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Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 59: Trees, The Guardians of the Schoolyard

January 21, 2015

ice storm damage

Many of us are lucky enough to be in schools with trees in the playground. Each ring within the trunk could speak to hundreds of recesses and discussions.

Many students may not think much about the trees within their schoolyard on a regular basis unless they are doing a tree inquiry project or have “adopted a tree” as a class. They have provided shade for students reading comic books, novels, Kindles and more. They have been “home free zones”, fortresses and when the teachers on duty are looking the other way – even jungle gyms likely.

Now, imagine they could share those stories. If those trees could speak to discussions on the playground over generations. Wouldn’t it be great to hear the stories they could tell? What lessons could we learn from those trees? In 2014 the movie Guardians of the Galaxy came out and one of the main characters, Groot, was a tree-like hero.


Your schoolyard trees, with the right imagination, are the Guardians of the Schoolyard. They are always on duty and could share some true school ground climate related morals. This week’s challenge is to write those stories. Have your students create short stories or poems that can teach a valuable schoolyard lesson for students through the “eyes” of the trees.

Now, if we pay a wee bit more attention to those trees, could they also tell us when they are stressed? When they are under the weather? If a tree is changing its foliage well before the time of the other trees it could mean that they tree is ill or stressed. Perhaps the trees roots and the soil around them are being compacted by recess after recess of pounding feet making it hard for the roots to soak up water. Perhaps the tree was planted in an area where run off from the pavement allows salt or other issues to run off into its water table. Is the tree a shade intolerant tree species such as birch or poplars that is constantly in the shade because of where it was planted? How are they affected by winter weather such as ice storms or winds?


Much as our good friend the Lorax, could you students speak for the trees in a creative story as well?

With spring a couple of months away – write the stories now and let the discussion lead to spring time action plans for the schoolyard  trees, who are always on recess duty.

Let me know how it goes!

  1. Hey Rob,

    One of our magic spot spaces is a tree. It’s slowly dying and we are inquiring why that might be. Sounds like a really interesting idea, I love the creation aspect at the end.

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