Friday, December 6, 2013

School Age Storytime: Very Special Trees


A seasonal storytime incorporating history & empathy, music & sign language, and a bit of mathematics!

Ask who’s seen the Rockefeller Tree?

Book: The Carpenter’s Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree by David Rubel (Construction workers at the Rockefeller Center site help a a boy and his family in need—then many years the boy, now grown to an old man, donates his enormous tree after learning that it will not only give pleasure but will also be used to help another family.  Afterward talks about the tradition and logistics involved with the Rockefeller Center Trees and notes that since 2007 the wood from the tree has been milled and used for Habitat for Humanity houses.)  Afterward also has great potential for some math problems or further research.  First tree in 1933 – how many years.  First tree 20 ft. tall; trees now 100 ft. tall – comparisons to each other, to roof of school, etc.  (Related title: You and Me and Home Sweet Home by George Ella Lyon -- a community comes together to help a girl and her mother build a house.)

Song: This Little Light of Mine
(Another song possibility: All I Really Need

Book: Night Tree by Eve Bunting (Every year a family decorates a tree in the woods with edible ornaments for the animals),

Who knows what a “family tree” is?

Sign Language Song: Family Tree  Song by Tom Chapin & John Forster, additional verses on their album “Family Tree”; video of their performance with signs: and on their video “This Pretty Planet.” 
Signs handout: 

Family Tree by John Forster & Tom Chapin © 1988 Limousine Music Co. & The Last Music Co. (ASCAP)
Before the days of Jello
Lived a prehistoric fellow,
Who loved a maid and courted her
Beneath the banyan tree.
And they had lots of children.
And their children all had children.
And they kept on having children
Until one of them had me!
We're a family and we're a tree.
Our roots go deep down in history
From my great-great-granddaddy reaching up to me,
We're a green and growing family tree.

My grandpa came from Russia;
My grandma came from Prussia;
They met in Nova Scotia,
Had my dad in Tennessee.
Then they moved to Yokohama
Where Daddy met my Mama.
Her dad's from Alabama and her mom's part Cherokee.
We're a family and we're a tree.
Our roots go deep down in history
From my great-great-granddaddy reaching up to me,
We're a green and growing family tree.

Well one fine day I may go
To Tierra Del Fuego.
Perhaps I'll meet my wife there
And we'll move to Timbuktu.
And our kid will be bilingual,
And though she may stay single,
She could, of course, comingle with the
King of Kathmandu.
'Cause we're a family and we're a tree.
Our roots go deep down in history
From my great-great-granddaddy reaching up to me,
We're a green and growing family tree.

The folks in Madagascar
Aren't the same as in Alaskar;
They got different foods, different moods
And different colored skin.
You may have a different name,
But underneath we're much the same;
You're probably my cousin and the whole world is our kin.
We're a family and we're a tree.
Our roots go deep down in history
From my great-great-grandmother reaching up to me, (sign for “grandmother is the same hand as grandfather, but thumb touching the chin and bouncing 2x)
We're a green and growing family tree.
We're a green and growing family.

This song appears on Tom Chapin's Family Tree CD.

Book: December
by Eve Bunting (beautiful story of homeless family and holiday miracle)

Book (new for 2016 – possible Caldecott contender):  The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan. (A boy in an orphanage and a rundown town are transformed by the magical topiary creations of the night gardener. Fascinating parallel story to compare with The Carpenter’s Gift – both have boys lives transformed by a generous stranger and the metaphor of the tool passing from generation to generation.) 

Booktalked to some teachers: The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank’s Window by Jeff Gottesfeld.

2013: Book: The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco (Based on a true story from the author's childhood – Tricia’s family brings cheer to neighboring families stricken with Scarlet Fever by a surprise Christmas morning delivery of food, candles, and small Christmas trees – using their own Chanukah gifts (handmade wooden animals) as ornaments. – This is a beautiful story but long.For kindergarten and some first grades instead used Night Tree by Eve Bunting (Family goes out into the woods and decorates a tree with edible treats for the animals.) 

2013:  Mentioned that one very big light went out yesterday with the passing of Nelson Mandela – talked about him and his accomplishments (paralleling Martin Luther King and our own Civil Rights Movement) then we sang We Shall Overcome as tribute.

Booktalked: Tree of Cranes by Allen Say (Japanese boy learns of his mother’s heritage when she decorates a tree with origami cranes), Uncle Vova's Tree by Patricia Polacco (Narrator remembers very special aspects of her childhood, including the sleigh ride to decorate a tree for the animals.) Other possibilities: Lighthouse Christmas by Toni Buzzeo, Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray, The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston,The Perfect Tree by Chloe Bonfield Could also use: the light-hearted The Christmas Tree Tangle by Margaret Mahy or Mr. Willoughby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. 

Looking for additional special holiday titles?  Check out this bibliography:

12.13, 12.16

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