Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: World of Wonder: A Program on the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism for Grades K-1

Activity 3: Build a Tree

Part of World of Wonder

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A chime or rain stick

Preparation for Activity

  • Find a large, open space, preferably outdoors, with plenty of room for movement and where noise will not disturb others.

Description of Activity

In this role playing activity, the children work together to create with their bodies one large (and noisy) tree while learning the purpose of each part of the tree. It is wonderful to do outside, preferably among other trees, but can also be done on a patio, in a field, or indoors.

Form six groups-trunk, bark, leaves, roots, flowers, and seeds-and designate a small number of pollinators (these can be co-leaders, or children). Explain that you will tell them what motions and sounds to make for their tree part, but they should wait until you sound the chime or rain stick to indicate that everyone has become part of the tree.

Introduce the purpose of each tree part as you describe the motions and sounds for each:

  • TRUNK. Children stand together in a circle facing out, their backs together, holding up their arms. The trunk moves nutrients up and down the tree and provides support. The trunk will make a “whoosh whoosh” sound.
  • BARK. Children surround the trunk, facing out and holding hands to create a protective barrier. The bark, which protects the trunk, will say out loud “safe safe”.
  • LEAVES. Children stand around the bark facing out, shaking their arms and hands in front of them as if wind were blowing. The leaves are working to produce food for the tree so they say “yum, yum.”
  • ROOTS. Children sit around the base of the tree with their legs stretched out, collecting water and nutrients from the soil. Their sound is “slurp slurp.”
  • FLOWERS. Children stand near the leaves or interspersed with the leaves, and attract pollinators by shouting “pollinate me, pollinate me” while holding their hands around their faces like petals. After the pollinator taps it, the flower dies (falls to the ground).
  • SEEDS. Children stand around the tree next to the flowers. After the flowers fall to the ground, the seeds say “disperse, disperse!” while spinning and jumping away from the adult tree.
  • POLLINATORS. The pollinators are animals or insects that travel from flower to flower collecting and transferring pollen so fertilization takes place and a new seed or nut can form. After the flowers have shouted “pollinate me” several times, the pollinator gently taps them one by one on the shoulder.

Sound the chime to start the process of building a tree. The group has created an adult tree and with it, seeds to grow many more trees in the future. As time allows, build the tree a second or third time, with children taking different parts.

Process the activity with questions such as:

  • What part of the tree did you like being? What is the purpose of that part of the tree?
  • What do you think would happen if any part of the tree was missing?
  • How can we help care for each part of the tree?