Talking Trees

K, 1, 2

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.

Lesson Rating 
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.


  • The Tree by Dana Lyons
  • Poster boards (one per pair or small group)
  • Markers


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


  1. 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 (don’t show the pictures). After reading, discuss the feelings of the trees.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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 don’t use words.

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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 thetherubricf ound in Attachment Oneto guide students and assess the finished product.

Cross Curriculum 

The students continue to work on the service learning project.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify specific learning objectives from the academic core curriculum that are being applied in the service-learning project.

Academic Standards

Select categories to search for standards.

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