University of Illinois Extension
Trees Are Terrific... Travels with Pierre
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Help children understand....we need trees... we can't live without them.Teacher's Guide

Trees Are Terrific...Travels with Pierre, is designed to help young children (5–8 years of age) gain an appreciation of trees, observe trees in their every day lives and develop an interest in learning more about trees. It is intended for adults to work with children to explore the wonders of trees.

Statewide Learning Goals for Second Grade

Biological and Physical Sciences

  • Distinguish plants from one another.
  • Classify familiar organisms.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of conservation and protection of renewable and non-renewable resources.

Language Arts

  • Read, write and listen for a variety of purposes.
  • Use technology to communicate.

Math

  • Collect, organize, describe and display data.
  • Recognize geometric shapes.
  • Apply estimation and measurement.

Getting Ready

Preparing young children to learn through a website might not be as difficult as it seems. Travels with Pierre will lead you through the basic knowledge of trees and how important they are to us.

Talk about trees with your child or children before you even begin to use the website. Find out how much is known, and ask the following questions:

  • What is a tree? Is it a plant? Is it an animal? Is it alive?
  • Do we need trees? Why?
  • What good are trees to us?
  • How are trees different?
  • What do trees need to live?
  • What do trees eat?
  • What would our world look like without trees?

Using a Website with Young Children

Young children should not be forced to sit in front of a computer, any more than they should be forced to sit and watch television or play a videogame. It should be a time for fun, exploration and individual curiosity. Trees Are Terrific...Travels with Pierre, is written to take children through a journey. There are words on each slide of the website, and children are able to move through the site at their own pace. They can click on next or back to either move forward or back through the site.

Allow children to freely explore the website as they are able, and support their reading and comprehension skills by reading and wondering with them. Young children might need adults to read the text to them, as they read along. This helps to reinforce their learning, and gain confidence in their own reading abilities.

If you have the ability to use sound, allow children to listen to the website, as you listen with them. There are many sections that give you a chance to ask questions and allow for conversation and sharing ideas.

Guiding the Learning: Watch, Look and Wonder

  • Allow young children to navigate the site and watch what they do.
  • Allow them to ask questions, talk and explore what the site is all about.
  • Print out sheets that are most interesting for them to review. You might even print out copies for discussion and review to read out loud.

Activities are included for children to explore the parts of a tree. Try these activities with individual children or in a group.

Make Trees Are Terrific a part of your everyday world. Include it in discussions, and print out a copy to use in discussions about what trees do for us (provide air and beauty), and how we take care of trees and what products trees give us (food, paper and homes for animals).

Go to Pierre's Fun Place

Have children think up fun tree jokes, and share them with us. We welcome your comments and look forward to your "tree-mendous" ideas.

More Ideas to Use

Build a Tree Out of Paper

Tape wrapping paper rolls together to make the trunk of the tree and use yarn or paper towel tubes for branches . Have children collect leaves (or make them from construction paper). Put the tree on a wall, and add to it. Have children think of creative ways to add to your own personal tree. Write a description of the tree, and what the tree needs. Be creative and fun with your tree. Make up a name for it, and imagine what it could produce.

Make a Bulletin Board with "Tree Ideas"

Have children create their own trees out of materials of their choice: cardboard, paper, and other materials. Have items and classify about what comes from trees. Put a variety of items on a table. Make signs and have children sort them by "made from trees" and "not made from trees."

Arbor Day Activities

Check out the website at http://www.arborday.org to get great ideas about celebrating Arbor Day that would be right for your children.

Growing Rings

Create your own "growing rings." While this is typically an activity for older children, helping children understand that trees have an "age" just like they do makes trees even more "alive" for them.

If you cut a tree in half across the trunk, you can tell how old a tree is by counting the rings. The kind of weather conditions is also indicative of how much a tree grows each year.

Have your children make their own "ring of life" by putting photos of them in rings by their ages. You can put the photos on the sides of the page, and then draw lines from the middle (age 1 year) to the age of the child.

Audio-Enhanced Version

An audio-enhanced version of Trees Are Terrific is available by clicking on the "Audio-enhanced version" link at the bottom of any page. The audio-enhanced version requires the Macromedia Flash Player. Click here to download.

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Teacher's Guide