Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Talking Trees
Lesson 3
From Unit: Watch Me Grow
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


In this lesson, students learn about the interconnectedness of nature and the impact of people on the environment. Students are motivated by literature to teach others the importance of trees in our ecosystem. They respond to the literature selection and design and make posters with a "Save the Trees" message. They also continue work on their community planting project.


One Forty-Five-Minute Class Period (Plus time to work on posters)


The learner will:

  • identify and describe the interconnectedness of nature.
  • recognize the importance of environmentalism and his/her role in the effort.
  • design and create a poster communicating his/her feelings about trees.
  • communicate through body movement the imagined feelings of trees.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

The students continue to work on the service learning project.


  • The Tree by Dana Lyons
  • Poster boards (one per pair or small group)
  • Markers
Handout 1
Assessment Rubric for Posters

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Read "The Story of the Tree" found at the back of the book, The Tree, and ask what the children think about that story. Ask them what they think might be their song if they were a tree. Encourage them to use their imagination and think about a tree having feelings. Ask the children what they think a tree would say if it could talk. Then have the children close their eyes while you read the book through one time (donít show the pictures). After reading, discuss the feelings of the trees.

  • Read the story to them again, but this time show the beautiful illustrations of this book. Discuss how the pictures make them feel. Compare and contrast the feelings of children with those of a tree.

  • Ask the following questions to lead a discussion: Is it important to save our trees? Why? What can we (as children) do to save our trees? How could we cut down on wood usage? If we choose to take action for the trees, are we acting as philanthropists? (Review the meaning of philanthropy.) Does this book and discussion prompt any ideas (or motivate anyone) for our community planting project?

  • Native Americans say that the trees have songs and the tree in this book has a song. Tell the students that they are going to speak like the trees without using words. They have to imagine they are trees and they are going to communicate a "sentence" using their bodies and facial expressions. Discuss body language and how you can tell how people are feeling even when they donít use words.

  • Give students some time (in small groups or in pairs) to come up with a way to express a thought for the trees using only body language and facial expressions. They will present their sentences to the whole class using their bodies as a tool. Have them walk through the beginning, middle and end of the sentence.

  • The other students can guess the meaning of the "sentence." Discuss what happened in their sentences and how it made them feel.

  • Put students in small groups in order to make "Save our Trees" posters. Tell them the posters should communicate the importance of trees, have a title or slogan that grabs attention, and include a drawing. After students present the finished posters in front of the class, hang them up around the school. (Kindergarten students could do the illustration and dictate the title or slogan to an adult to add to the poster.)


Use the the rubricf ound in Attachment One to guide students and assess the finished product.

Bibliographical References:

Lyons, Dana. The Tree. Illumination Arts Publishing Co., 2002. ISBN: 0970190719

Lesson Developed By:

Caryn Yarnot
Mona Shores Public Schools
Ross Park Elementary
Muskegon, MI 49441


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Assessment Rubric for Posters




Poster Includes the Following:



Possible Points 50





Points Given

Communicates the importance of trees

10 points


Includes a title or slogan

10 points


Includes a drawing

10 points


Poster design is neat and attractive

10 points


Poster design uses space well

10 points




Total Points:










Philanthropy Framework:

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Watch Me Grow Summary


Garden for Life
Plants are Growing and Changing
Talking Trees
Understanding the Roots

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