The heat has arrived in my region! We are in a stay-at-home order due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but if we weren’t, this would be the time of year when classes would be flocking outside to find some shade and get relief from the heat. I remember my grade 4 teacher, Ms Scammerhorn, doing this with us, back when I was a school kid. She brought us outside, and while we basked in the shade, she read us funny poetry. It’s one of the best memories from my days in Elementary School; enjoying the gift of a refreshing breeze, the cool shade and many giggles from the poetry!!
Click HERE for a PDF of lyrics and chords in English and French.
“Thank You, Tree” (“Merci l’arbre” in French) was written for just these moments- whether you are in school, working in the forest, or racing from shaded area to shaded area on the sidewalk during a walk around the block with your family. This song is meant to send a heaping amount of joyful gratitude to our beautiful trees for their gift of shade.
This song is also meant to be a whole lot of fun! In the song, there is the opportunity for anyone singing along to offer up a suggestion of who might want to say thank you along with us. I have sung this song with kids who have suggested animals as far ranging as a flamingo to a butterfly! Anything goes! No matter the suggestion, we all get to try and imagine what it might be like to sing like that animal. This then sets the stage for all of us to explore the range of our voices. As we pretend to be a grateful, singing squirrel, or a fox or a bear, we explore how high and low, how fast and slow, how loud and soft, and how silly our voices can be! This is very fun! It is also a very important opportunity for children to explore their range and develop confidence in sharing their voice. I wrote a blog post for Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, about the importance of these opportunities. Feel free to read that post HERE.
This song is also intended to support an inquiry stance in the land, and this can work out in a number of ways.
If you are just starting to work with a group of children, this song can be used as a spark, inviting children to consider who we share the land with. Listening to children’s suggestions can give you a lot of information about their knowledge of local species. I find that lions and leopards often come up as suggestions. My approach is to work with all suggestions, no question. It’s not important to tell children if they are right and wrong, it’s important to engage them in having fun with their voice, and to start to think about looking closely at the land we live in. For many children, they know more about animals from books and the television, and I know from my own personal experiences in the library and in watching videos with my kids, that it is the exotic animals who are consistently given the most exposure among children. So, when animals who do not live in our region are suggested, I tuck that into my understanding of where they are at, and use that as a formative assessment. I find that for me, these moments become a neat baseline to then see how much learning we do in our time together. As we continue to spend time together in the land, looking closely, making observations and sharing them with each other, and as we continue to sing this song, the suggestions change. We start singing about black squirrels and worms and butterflies, and I don’t hear so much about the lions and leopards.
This song is equally useful towards the end of an inquiry or a time together, as a way to celebrate all of the learning you have done, and to celebrate the relationships children have fostered in learning about local animals. We had a lot of fun last June using this song in our online learning, as children shared drawings and paintings virtually of their suggestions for the song.
I hope you, and the children in your life, have as much fun with this song as I have had with the children in mine!
Thank you for listening to my words and my story.