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Trees are Trees

School: The College School

City/State: St. Louis, MO

Grade(s): K

Format(s): Poetry

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Visual Arts

Project Overview

This book of poetry, letters and artwork was created by kindergarten students from The College School in St. Louis, Missouri. The project began with a student-created, Alexander Calder-inspired mobile installation in the school’s entryway. Because a log was part of the foundation of this installation, students became curious about logs and trees, which expanded to a study of trees outdoors. Students spent considerable time in the outdoors making observations, drawing, writing and exploring.

This collection captures students’ poetry about trees, each accompanied by a colorful drawing. Students were taught how to use professional quality, soft-lead colored pencils. The quality of the materials – not often trusted to students of this age – made a great difference in the clarity of line and richness of color distinctive in these portraits. 

Although most of the artwork was done by individual students, the poems and letters were written collaboratively.

The letters were written to school staff, parents and community members as a way of asking for help with materials, thanking people for giving materials, and explaining the nature of their learning.

This project was featured in an exhibit at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2010 featuring exemplary student work, Books for Kids, by Kids.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights a simple idea for a product – a collection of poetry and artwork – at an unusually high level of quality
  • An example of thoughtful, collaborative writing by kindergarten students
  • Shows a range of types of poetry and a wide range of content/concepts covered in the poetry. Notice the differences in conceptual levels between “Silly Tree Poem” (p. 8) and “Steps to Heaven” (p. 11)
  • Appealing product in part because of the vibrancy of the colors used in the drawings – highlights the difference high quality materials can make
  • Highlights young students spending a lot of time outdoors – both collecting information and appreciating nature

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can share my thoughts and opinions about a book using pictures and words.
  • I can teach my reader about a topic using pictures and words.
  • I can participate in shared writing projects.
  • I can use pictures to send a clear message to my listener.
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