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Tremendous Trees - Trail Signs

School: Schoolcraft Learning Community

City/State: Bemidji, MN

Grade(s): K

Format(s): Bilingual, Interpretive signs

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Visual Arts, World Language

Project Overview

Kindergarteners at Schoolcraft Learning Community created these trail signs as a collaborative project after participating in a spring expedition about trees. Since the school plans to move locations in the fall, the goal was to create student work that would be visible from the very first day.

Students first learned about living and nonliving things and what makes a tree a living thing. Next, they studied trees in the forest to learn about the parts of a tree. The students were then split into small groups to research a tree from the new location of the school. Students researched with their reading buddies and recorded information they learned. They participated in field work through visiting a virgin forest and a sugar bush to learn how to make maple syrup. Many experts visited to explain to the students the importance of trees from an indigenous perspective. Students spent their forest classroom time surveying trees, collecting maple sap, and observing the forest.

Students took their notes and knowledge to write sentences about their expert trees. Each student had one of their sentences represented on the trail sign after whole group and small group critique sessions. The students worked with an 8th grade student expert to learn about watercolor painting and created watercolor tree paintings to show a specific part of their tree. Students also worked with a French teacher and Indigenous Studies (Ojibwe) teacher to learn about their tree and parts in those languages. These names are also included on the trail signs as they are an important part of the learning at Schoolcraft.

Students provided input on the design of the trail signs that were put together by the art teacher. All of the writing on the trail signs is student work that has been typed by the teacher. Finally, the signs were printed on durable metal to be put out in the forest.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Excellent example of a product that was created to meet a genuine need
  • Demonstrates how even very young students can contribute to their environment
  • Highlights a product that has multiple steps and parts to accomplish a high-quality lasting product
  • Shows how younger students can work with older students with benefits to all

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can teach my reader about a topic using pictures and words.
  • With support from adults, I can revise my writing by adding details.
  • With support from adults, I can use digital tools to publish my writing.
  • I can participate in shared writing projects.
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