Monday, December 6, 2010

Let's make trees!

I've been brave enough to commit to working with two Head Start centers this year on a monthly basis, working with their children on science and agricultural literacy. Besides the basics of learning where their food comes from, I want these children to understand the incredible diversity of American agriculture and to be excited about science and all the wonderful things just waiting to be discovered by their young minds.

So far this year, I've shared with them about insects and spiders (just in time for Halloween...and let me tell you, I was impressed with what those preschoolers already knew when I got there!). Then we talked about the life cycle of a pumpkin and read some cool pumpkin books (you can't believe what a great job they are doing of growing their pumpkin seeds!). And in November we learned about the different body parts and adaptations of wild turkeys. I'm telling you, these preschoolers are impressive and already knew what a turkey's caruncle was before I was even walked in the door! So I thought they deserved an extra fun treat as Christmas approaches.

We did our December visit on Christmas trees!

We started out by talking about how Christmas trees are grown on farms, how they benefit the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing fresh oxygen, how they are a renewable resource, how they are recyclable, and how they preserve green space. The National Christmas Tree Association has some great resources on their site with this information as well as a lot of myths debunked about real Christmas trees. For example, did you know there are more than 4,000 Christmas tree recycling programs in the United State alone?

Then we read A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe.
This cute tale tells the story of an old tree on a Christmas tree farm that is sad because he was never chosen by a family to be a Christmas tree. He knows now that he's too large to be chosen by a family to be their Christmas trees, but the animals tell him all about the many benefits he provides to them and while he is asleep, they decorate him and make him their own special Christmas tree.

Afterwards, we made our own little Christmas tree snacks. We started with Cool Whip, which I colored with green food coloring in advance. Each child then got their own sugar ice cream cone and "iced" the cone with the Cool Whip to make a tree. We decorated the trees with M&Ms for ornaments and enjoyed a good snack. This is a fun little treat either in the classroom or at home. So enjoy!

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