Just outside my classroom window, there is a beautiful maple tree. My kiddos and I love to watch it grow and change throughout the year. A while back, I decided to make a paper version of that maple and posted it just outside my classroom door. Then, as a class, we would mimic the changes the real tree went through.
I start with a brown, craft paper trunk.
Prior to school opening in the fall, I use the school's Ellison Die Cut machine to cut bunches of green maple leaves. Writing each student's name on a leaf helps to make them feel a part of the group and welcomes them back to school.
I put the leaves on the trunk and pretty much leave it alone for awhile.
As the leaves begin to change colors and fall, we make our tree do the same. (Swapping the green leaves for the fall leaves is a great activity for early finishers.)
The tree transitions from fall to winter and we replace the leaves with snow (stretched out cotton balls). All of this is in conjunction with scientific observations of our tree.
Because I do this with 1st graders, the tree does not become a Poet-tree until spring, when they are more skilled writers. Then, as they write poetry, they make a copy on the computer and print it. Recycling the green leaves from the fall, my students glue their poems to a leaf and put them on the tree. It never fails to amaze me how motivating that is for 1st graders! Before long, the tree is full.
Our tree buds with budding poets!