Over the course of the next year, I am going to share a cycle of songs I have written that explore a child’s relationship with a tree throughout the four seasons. I wrote these songs over the last six years, as I have been spending time exploring the land with my own children and working with students in the public elementary school system. My hope is that in sharing these songs, others may also have fun with them and find them useful.
I use song for four main reasons:
1- it is a lot of fun and brings a lot of joy to my day, and that of the children I spend time with
2- to support children in making a deeper connection to the land
3- to support children developing a deeper sense of belonging that comes when we sing songs with others
4- to support children in developing a deeper sense of self as they learn to explore and share their own voice.
The first song in the song cycle is “Green Leaf”. I wrote this song when I was on my second maternity leave, taking many long walks with my little ones and our dog. The fall colours in my neighbourhood are stunning, and beg the question- where do the green leaves go?
This song is meant to spark curiosity, and invite children to look more closely and consider what they are noticing outside. Most often, I don’t actually sing the whole song. Instead, I focus on an A-B pattern, singing the chorus and repeating one verse over and over. Before the verse is repeated, I ask children what leaves they are noticing. Often students start by suggesting different coloured leaves (red, blue, rainbow!). I take their suggestions and insert them into the verse, instead of the original colour. As time goes on, and we spend more time outside looking closely, students will make other suggestions- such as different sized leaves, different shaped leaves, or even suggesting trees by name, such as Maple. In this way, the song can offer an educator a sense of what children are noticing and learning through the inquiry process, and where their interests lie. It is a fun and simple assessment.
This song is also meant to be a little silly. A little bit of silly goes a very long way with children! So I invite you to embrace it and have a lot of fun singing this with your students.
We are also in the time of Covid as I write this. In my region, we aren’t able to sing at school at all at this time, inside or out. So sadly, we won’t be singing this song in schools at all. However, I have an idea about how to use the song until the day we can sing along with students again!
Play the Youtube video as a provocation before going on a Nature Walk outside with students. Then go on a walk, inviting students to make observations of all the different kinds of leaves they see. You could use this to create a wordbank of descriptive words, or to collect authentic data for data management… You can even collect a handful of leaves and see how many different ways you can sort them, and do leaf art with them! For those in the school system, this means you can combine Music, Literacy, Science, DPA, Art and Math!
It is useful to repeat an activity like this throughout the fall. As children revisit the idea of looking closely, they will notice something new all of the time. This can be a good opportunity to begin modeling asking questions, which can help set the stage for learning through inquiry.
I teach in both the English and French Immersion programs, so I know how useful it is to have resources in both languages. You can watch the French video HERE, and you can download the lyrics and chords for both languages HERE. This song sounds great played on any instrument, or no instrument at all; just do what works best for you!
I would love to hear how you use the song! And if you need any further support with the song- learning to play it, or thinking through more ways to use it- please let me know!