I put together a small world tree farm for my students to explore a little bit of sensory and pretend tree farm play. I wasn’t sure if my students would really be all that excited about the idea but to my delight, they absolutely loved it!
Our question of the day was, “Have you ever been to a tree farm?” Some of our students said “yes” while others said “no.” Our question led into our morning discussion on trees, roots, tree farms, and lots of fabulous pretend play in our small world tree farm.
To begin our day, I read the book, “The Great Spruce” by John Duvall. This was a book about a little boy who loved his tall spruce tree and how he was led to dig it up and share it with others. It is a sweet book about family, traditions, and caring for trees.
After reading our book and talking about how the roots of the Great Spruce had to be carefully dug up and wrapped in order to move the very big tree, the children headed off to explore the different centers set up around the classroom.
One of the favorite centers of the day was our small world tree farm. After setting it up the night before, I actually didn’t think the children would find it all that interesting. But to my surprise, they LOVED it.
Instead of putting animals and other things in the small world center, I invited the children to go and choose their favorite animals, people, or trucks and cars from our block center to add to the table for their play.
By the way, the table the children are playing on is an old train table that I painted and converted to be used for various processes in my classroom like math, small world, sensory play, and so on.
For the tree farm, I simply added a supply of little stand up Christmas Trees, brown construction paper (for the dirt), and a little bit of fake snow. All the supplies came from Walmart. I didn’t want to add too much snow as this was intended more for pretend play than digging into a sensory experience but the small amount was just enough to capture imagination and not get all over my classroom in the process!
The children then added people, animals, and a few other props from our block center. I was actually surprised how selective the children were in what they added. Instead of overloading the table, the children really thought about what they wanted to add and adding their own ideas definitely kept the children engaged in the process of pretend play.
The table was buzzing all day long with small to large groups of children at play. The play was simply beautiful to watch. From hauling trees, family outings, trucks at work, and a little snow piling along the way…
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