About This Lesson Plan



Hands-On Lessons

Build a Classroom Tree

Celebrate back to school with a lesson that introduces science and cultivates positive classroom culture.

Students will:

•    Describe themselves, and express their ideas and feelings using images and words
•    Clarify their thoughts, ideas, and feelings using drawings and visual displays
Common Core Standard
(SL.1.4, SL.1.5) Describe people with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly. Add drawings or visual displays to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Paper for tree trunk and leaves, Elmer's Foam Tri-Fold Display Board, markers, materials to decorate leaves, scissors, Elmer's Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks, Elmer's Colored Glue Sticks.

Content Overview
Each part of a tree serves a purpose.

•    Roots take water and nutrients from the soil and bring them to the trunk (stem). They also anchor or hold the tree in the ground.  
•    The trunk carries water and nutrients to the branches and leaves.
•    Leaves use energy from the sun to make food for the tree, take in air through tiny pores or holes, and send oxygen into the air.
•    The crown is the top layer of leaves and branches.
Create the trunk and branches of a tree on a wall in your classroom, or on an Elmer’s Foam Tri-Fold Display Board.
Printable: Parts of a Tree
Printable: Leaf Cutout

Roots, trunk, leaves, branches, crown

Introduction (5–10 minutes)
Explain to students that each part of a tree has a purpose. Using the whiteboard and the Parts of a Tree printable, identify the parts of a tree.

•    Kindergarten: Have students color each part of the tree along with you.
•    1st  Grade: Ask students to help complete the tree using colors and words to label each part.
•    2nd  Grade: Ask students to help you complete the tree with words to label each part of the tree and identify its purpose.
Classroom Tree Craft (10 minutes)
Tell students that, like leaves on a tree, each student serves a purpose in the class. Today you are going to make a classroom tree that represents the classroom community.
•    Kindergarten: Students write their name on their leaf (provide a model as necessary). Then students decorate their leaf with glue, pictures, and craft materials.
•    1st  Grade: Students write their name and one or two words that describe who they are before they decorate their leaves.
•    2nd  Grade: Students write their name and a sentence about themselves, or a goal for the first month of school.

Classroom Tree Creation (10 minutes)
One at a time, students present their leaves to the class and paste them onto the tree. (Elmer’s 1st Day Connection: Take a picture of each student as they present their leaf, then email or provide these to parents to include on the Elmer’s 1st Day website.)
Wrap-up (5 minutes)
As a class, discuss what you learned about each other. Ask students to talk about a leaf that they found especially unique or interesting, or to identify something new that they learned about a classmate through this activity.

Whiteboard Extension Activities

•    First Day of School: Post categories of descriptive words, interests, or classroom jobs, along with student names to sort. One at a time, have each child in your class come up and move their name to match a word that describes them, an interest, or a classroom job that they would like. Then, discuss how having people who are different, good at different things, or who can help out around the classroom, makes the community better.
•    Tree Lab: On the whiteboard, identify the various parts of a tree and discuss how the tree collects, makes, and uses energy. Identify various types of trees (deciduous, fir, palm, fruit, etc.) and discuss how trees share the same core characteristics, even though they look very different from one another.
Extension Activity
•    Tree Observation: Take students into the playground or a local park to observe a tree. As they observe the tree, have students write down or draw what they see. In class, discuss the observations, as well as the various uses they noticed for each part of the tree. For example, did the branches and leaves provide shade? Were there any animals living in the tree? How were people and animals using the tree?
Literature Extension
•    First Day of School: Read a back-to-school story such as Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff, Timothy Goes to School by Rosemary Wells, Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London, or another back-to-school title. As you read, ask students what they notice about the character’s first day of school. How does each character experience the first day? How does it compare to students' own experiences?
•    Tree Connection: Read a book about leaves, such as Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! by Nancy Wallace, or The Leaves on the Trees by Thom Wiley. As you read, ask students what they notice about the leaves. (Suggested answers: each one is different, or they each play an important role for the tree as the seasons change).
•    Plot Diagram: Read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and create a parallel plot diagram of the character’s life and the tree’s life. Who does the tree represent? How does the author use images and words to turn the tree into a character? How is the tree a metaphor for life? Is it a good metaphor?
Technology Extension
Visit http://the1stday.com/ and download the Elmer's 1st Day app to capture and share the first day of school and beyond. You can create slideshows, personalize photos, share "first day" albums, and more.

Just like a class of students, each member of a family is unique. In this home-connection activity, students work with their parents to create a family tree that includes each member as well as words and images that remind them of that person. Students can bring their family tree in to share with the class, or to a family literacy activity in the first month of school. Parents can add photos of their child’s family tree to the Elmer's 1st Day website.

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