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Posts Tagged ‘plants’

June 5 is Arbor Day, a world-wide celebration of trees. If you read our About page, you’d know by now that Josie’s favourite outdoor place is “trees”! They are fabulous – I have so many happy memories from my childhood sitting up in the branches reading books (I was tomboy and a bookworm and this was a great way to combine the two!)

Arbor Day coincides quite nicely with the winter planting season in Aotearoa and lots of community groups are busily putting plants in the ground in parks around the city. Stu has been industrious in the wasteland railway reserve out our back fence, replacing the oxalis weed with lovely grasses and flaxes that will hopefully attract lizards.

On Arbor Day itself  I’ll be helping to plant two trees in the grounds of Josie’s preschool; the start of their very own shape forest. It’s never too early to introduce children to the wonder of trees – even an infant can enjoy lying on a rug looking up at the canopy as sun dabbles through the leaves. Perhaps wait til Spring to try that out but in the meantime, creating a shape forest seemed a great preschool concept to try out!

Josie and Rimu tree

Josie and a rimu tree

What grows in a shape forest?

Five-finger / puahou has leaves like my hands

Five-finger

Five finger / puahou has leaves like my ….

hands.

… hands!

Putaputaweta has flowers shaped like stars

Putaputaweta; Paul Ashford, www.NZplantpics.com

Putaputaweta
photo courtesy Paul Ashford, http://www.NZplantpics.com

Broadleaf – kapuka has shiny oval leaves while kowhai has tiny oval leaves

Broadleaf - photo courtesy Paul Ashford, www.NZplantpics.com

Broadleaf – kapuka has shiny oval leaves

Lots of trees have oval-shaped fruits – like miro and tawa

Miro also has leaves like a feather

Miro photo courtesy Paul Ashford, www.NZplantpics.com

Miro has feather-shaped leaves
Paul Ashford, http://www.NZplantpics.com

Lancewood’s leaves are like a spiky sword

Fierce lancewood, Paul Ashford, www.NZplantpics.com.

Fierce lancewood, Paul Ashford, http://www.NZplantpics.com.

Cabbage tree is not shaped like a cabbage!

Nikau trees are like big umbrellas turned inside-out!

Nikau palms.

Nikau palm

Some trees have leaves shaped like hearts…kawakawa-pepper tree and shrubby tororaro

Kawakawa leaf.

Kawakawa has a heart-shaped leaf

Muenlenbeckia astonii.

Shrubby tororaro

We ‘heart’ trees!

Josie hearts trees.

Josie ‘hearts’ trees

Hand tree

Tree art – Josie’s five-finger tree

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Josie and I were in the garden and she turns to me, touching a tree and says “this is a forever tree mum; its leaves stay green forever”. I was immediately charmed with the phrase and my clever daughter. And even more so a few nights later when giving her a goodnight cuddle she started practicing saying a very difficult word – jew sid jewus. Jewsidjewus. “Did you learn that word at preschool?” I asked. “Yes” she said, “Rebecca told it to us. It means trees that lose their leaves”.

Well she couldn’t say the word but she knew what it meant. And at three that’s something. Talking to her teacher Rebecca I passed on that Josie was sharing her knowledge at home.  Rebecca informed me that the children were asking why some leaves were changing colour and some weren’t and that triggered the subject. I was even more impressed now – child-centred inquiry-based learning. Letting the children ask a question, and then help them find the answer.  I am so grateful for the quality care that Josie is receiving while I am working!

But learning doesn’t have to stay at preschool, as Josie was also gently reminding me. So we took a trip into the botanical gardens. It was a gorgeous day, just perfect for wandering amongst the many different trees.

William and Josie in Christchurch Botanic gardens

William and Josie in Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Josie was very quick to point out all the leaves that were changing colour, oranges and browns, yellows even.  She found a marvellous leaf – large enough for peek-a-boo. It was learning by osmosis – by exploring the world around us and taking it all in.

Josie

Josie plays peek-a-boo

And back at home, we decided to make our own “forever trees”. There are so many wonderful art projects you can do with autumn leaves.

There’s leaf rubbing – put a leaf under paper and rub over the top with wax crayon until the shape appears.

William doing leaf rubbings.

William doing leaf rubbings using autumnal colours

Spatter-prints are effective – arrange leaves on the paper, dip an old toothbrush into paint. Use a stick to rub the bristles so fine spatters of paint go onto the paper around the leaves. Lift the leaves to reveal their shadows.

Or even more achievable for pre-schoolers, focus on the colours. Collect papers of different kinds of greens, browns, yellows, oranges – old magazines or wrapping papers can be recycled for this!

Josie creates her evergreen forever tree.

Josie creates her evergreen forever tree

Cut them into leaf shapes (we used zig-zag scissors) and glue them onto your wonderful forever tree.

Forever trees.

Josie's forever trees, evergreen on left, deciduous on right

For a wonderful book about New Zealand’s native trees – most of which are forever green as Josie says – Andrew Crowe’s Life-size guide to native trees is the best.

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