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

Taking It Home: Thanks Be for Trees!

Part of World of Wonder

No shade tree? Blame not the sun but yourself. — Chinese proverb

IN TODAY'S SESSION... we learned about trees' vital role in our lives. We used our bodies to build a tree and then experienced a guided meditation in which we grew from acorns to mighty oak trees. We represented our interdependence with trees in the web of life by adding a white oak tree to our World of Wonder Mural.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... your family's interdependence with trees. In what way do trees care for you? In what ways do you care for trees? What actions can you take as a family to protect trees and help them thrive?


A Family Adventure. Borrow or buy a book about identifying trees in your local area, such as What Tree is That? A Guide to the More Common Trees Found in North America by the Arbor Day Foundation. Go on a nature walk with your book and identify as many trees as you are able. Or choose a tree near your home and visit it at different times of day and during different seasons. Notice what animals and insects leave near or on the tree. Learn together what kind of tree it is and whether any parts of the tree are used for food or medicinal purposes. Create a tree journal to keep notes about the tree, draw pictures, create tree poems, make bark rubbings, etc. As you explore the tree, talk about the times when your heart fills with awe, wonder and amazement in response to the web of life.

Family Discovery. As a family, learn about the Green Belt Movement (GBM), founded in 1977 by Professor Wangari Maathai. GBM has planted over 47 million trees in Kenya. GBM works at the grassroots, national, and international levels to promote environmental conservation, build climate resilience, and empower communities, especially women and girls; to foster democratic space and sustainable livelihoods. Books for children about Maathai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, include:

  • Flight of the Hummingbird: A Parable for the Environment by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Greystone, 2008)
  • Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenyaby Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson (Simon & Schuster, 2010)
  • Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola (Farrar, Straus, 2008)
  • Seeds of Change: Wangari's Gift to the World by Jen Cullerton Johnson and Sonia Lynn Sadler (Lee & Low, 2010)
  • Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt, 2008)

A Family Game. A card game based on the Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax, is available from Amazon and other vendors. Read The Lorax with your child and discuss the importance of trees and taking care of the environment. Then play the card game together or, better yet, create your own game!

A Family Ritual. Make time each day for a brief meditation. Join hands, close your eyes, and take a moment to become aware of your breathing. Talk with your child about the fact that you are breathing in oxygen made by the trees and that the trees are taking in the carbon dioxide that you exhale. Take a few minutes to repeat this ritual in an outdoor space that feels sacred or has special meaning to your family.