“I Speak For the Trees”

by Stefani on 25-September-2007


“The wonder is that we can see the trees and not wonder more” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Without really meaning to, we’ve taken up a unit on trees.

This is, of course, the time of year that little people line their pockets with tree babies – acorns, nuts, seed pods. Children know, instinctively, that these are treasures.

Even more so, when they learn that each and every one holds a forest inside.


I tell them the names of the trees: Pecan, Bald (balled?) Cypress, Oak, Sycamore, Mountain Laurel, Cedar. They translate: Skinny Leaf, Feathery Ball-y One, The Ones From Our Yard, Smoothy Whites, Shaker Pod Tree, Peely Bark Tree.

I tell them about the amazing Banyan tree that astonished me on my honeymoon in Maui, and remains one of the most amazing things that I’ve ever seen.

We explore them with all our senses. We touch, smell and listen, climb and hang.

Did you ever smell the insides of the green leathery case that covers a pecan? It’s limey, evergreenish perfection.

Did you ever stop to notice how much life goes on in and around a tree? We saw fat black carpenter ants traveling bark highways, cicadas singing lovesongs from leafy heights, grackles gossiping among the branches, web worms building their silky city walls.

Did you ever close your eyes and try to guess the tree, just by touch alone?


We breathed. And gave thanks for them.

We sat under their shade and read the words, absorbed the artwork, that such trees have inspired.


(A most beautifully illustrated book that is apparently out of print)


(From one of my favorites, Gyo Fujikawa)

I can’t help but look at my little men, making their leaf rubbings and seeking out low branches, and think of the old adage, “great oaks from little acorns grow”.

How many rings do they add to my heart each year?

We have become tree huggers.

We are the Lorax.

Sarah Jackson September 25, 2007 at 9:35 pm

We’re big tree fans here too, and it’s been fun to learn new ones once we moved. Citrus and olive and fig, palo verde, different types of palm. So different from our “home” trees – the pines and oaks and maples, the apple and pear and plum. The wide spreading trees here are so much more fun to climb.

Eren September 26, 2007 at 3:18 am

Aaaahhhh…music to my heart. I just finished the laundry and pulled out pockets and pockets of “gum balls” from the trees at the boys school. Ian said the teachers dont let them pick up gum balls because they might have “germs”, but doesnt look like that is stopping them. Sneaky little devils!

Kris September 26, 2007 at 5:17 am

My oldest (11yog) and I just finished reading Ida B
A great book about a little girl going through a tough time. She is a nature lover though and talks to the trees, receives wisdom from an old tree and plays with the brook near her moutain.
A really refreshing book!

kristin September 26, 2007 at 5:21 am

you will appreciate a photo i plan to post today…crazy good.

what a WONDERFUL teacher you are…

randi September 26, 2007 at 5:54 am

I love when we “just happen” to start a unit study. Those subjects are the ones most remembered and treasured.

The book looks gorgeous!

Sarah September 26, 2007 at 6:03 am

I love that smell of the whole pecan. I also love the smell of the whole walnut.

Do you guys have Osage orange (aka Hedge apples) there? Now there is an interesting fruit + tree combo! (You can see photos on google image with “hedge apple”.)

Angela (Robinson County) September 26, 2007 at 6:23 am

You are constantly reminding me of simple pleasures I’d forgotten about from my childhood…like leaf rubbings. You are such a great mom, Stephani!

kirsten September 26, 2007 at 6:28 am

thanks for the leaf-rubbing reminder. my daughter came inside yesterday and said ‘guess what! it’s whirlygig season!’ she loves those little seed pods that twirl.

meg September 26, 2007 at 6:57 am

i love that illustrator! i have a couple copies of that same book – so sweet. i also loooove “a tree is nice” by janice may udry. so good.

Heather September 26, 2007 at 7:38 am

My husband is an arborist so we are tree freaks! He has @ 60 bonsai trees that he cares for every day and my daughter helps. I will look at the library for that book. We like “Leaves” by Zoe Hall. She also wrote “Apple Pie Tree” and “Surprise Garden.” All 3 are favorites of ours and great for pre school ages. I forgot to tell you that when I was in Co. this summer I knew exactly what the Cottonwood trees were when I saw them because of your previous post. We don’t have them here and I was so excited… they’re amazing! Have a great rest of the week…

Anne September 26, 2007 at 8:00 am

This is a lovely post – I feel the need to make leaf rubbings.

brit September 26, 2007 at 8:29 am

I love you. Possibly against you will. But all the same. This is a beautiful post.

cloth.paper.string September 26, 2007 at 8:38 am

such loveliness, stefani!

Jade September 26, 2007 at 11:35 am

Once again Stefani, very well put! You know, maybe it’s the perfectionist in me but why don’t we have pretty acorns around here? Why are they always filled with worms and missing their tops???

Today we will go outside and talk about the trees. Thank you.

Heather September 26, 2007 at 12:05 pm

an addendum… it’s “Fall Leaves Fall!” by Zoe Hall. I read it at naptime today and realized the error. Ooops!

dana September 26, 2007 at 2:37 pm

I love trees too. I love how you see the world through the eyes of your children.

dana September 26, 2007 at 2:37 pm

I love trees too. I love how you see the world through the eyes of your children.

dianeinjapan September 26, 2007 at 7:13 pm

This is the best kind of homeschooling. Another beautiful post, Stefani.

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