A New Education

Encourage exploration, growth, curiosity and independence in a hands-on, minds-on learning environment!

Lesson 1-Meet a Tree/Plant

Understanding: Students utilize senses other than sight, relying on their touch and hearing to find a tree they had been previously led to.  This lesson is also a wonderful beginning of the year activity as students begin to work as a team and form a cohesive bond as a family away from home.  It is an introductory lesson to adopting and writing to a tree, all the while spending time outside, developing a greater sense, understanding and love for their natural world.

Time: 1 hour

Materials: blindfolds, nature journal, pencils, art supplies

Age: 7+ (depends on your group)

Anticipatory Set: Read The Tree by Dana Lyons prior to beginning the lesson.  This can be done inside or outside depending on the weather and is meant to get the students excited about a blindfolded romp with trees.  It will get them thinking about the history of the forest and the lives of the trees.

Safety: Facilitate a conversation about the vulnerability of being blindfolded and the importance of trust.  Discuss things as basic as the speed that should be reached, the ways in which you should hold a persons arm, the length of time that you should give them at their tree and the multiple ways to warn your partner of upcoming branches, stumps, etc…

Lesson: After reading the story and facilitating a safety talk, take your students outside (if you have not already done so).  Gather your students in a circle, (toe to toe) and begin to explain the activity.  They will be paired up with one partner who will be designated before the activity begins.  They will do “paper, rock, scissors” to decide who is blindfolded first.  The person who wins the game will be blindfolded first.  Explain that the persons partner will help them put on their blindfold so that it is comfortable and will remain in place for the duration of the activity.  At that point the person will take their blindfolded partner’s arm and lead them to a tree somewhere in the vicinity.  They can lead them up and down and around before settling on a tree so that the blindfolded partner does not know which direction they are headed.  When they arrive at a tree the person places their partners hands on the tree and when they are comfortable, let’s go so that they can explore their tree.  Tell them that they should be using their senses to explore everything about their tree.  Feel it, sniff it, hug it, look for local shrubbery, how low are their leaves, are they leaves or needles, does the tree have cones, etc…  Depending on the ability level of the group, leave as many of these hints as possible out of the conversation to allow for some creativity.  Once that person has completed their exploration, their partner needs to take their arm and lead them away from their tree in a round about way so that when they remove the blindfold they do not know where they came from.  At that point the blindfolded partner can remove their blindfold and begin to search for their tree.  Their partner should follow but should not give any hints as to where they were or what tree it was until they do actually discover it and make the guess.  After they have discovered their tree the partners switch places and begin again.  A great way to split up partners so that no student feels left out is by assigning partners while they are still in their circle.

Writing enrichment: (Can be completed the same day or later depending on the time available.) Once the activity is completed the student may sit at the base of their tree and write descriptive words about their tree.  What were the things that they were looking for once they took off their blindfold and began looking for their tree? Using these descriptive words introduce poetry if you have not already done so.  Writing haiku’s is an incredible attachment to this lesson.  The students can use the descriptive words they brainstormed to write a haiku about the way their tree felt when they were only able to touch and smell it.

Haiku set-up:

line 1; 5 syllables/line 2; 7 syllables/line 3; 5 syllables

Art enrichment: After, they can draw a sketch of their tree and add color and surroundings if time allows.  They can take their sketches inside and watercolor them for a more formal art activity.  The added art and writing activities can extend this lesson into a 2-3 day lesson.

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