If you haven’t experienced the amazing book Tap the Magic Tree, do yourself a favor and go get a copy right now. It is an interactive adventure unlike any other that explores how a tree changes through the seasons. When I read this book to kids, I tell them that the book has some directions inside, and that we have to do exactly what the book asks us to do in order to see the magic at the end. The book provides an excellent opportunity to talk about some vocabulary right away with the word “tap.” Is a tap soft or hard? Do you do it with one finger or your whole hand? This continues with the other directions throughout the book. One surprise for me was the word “bud” and how few kids were familiar with the concept. (When I invited them to touch each bud, and they thought I said “touch each butt,” hilarity definitely ensued. Luckily no actual touching of butts occurred.) Anyways, this book is a magic journey through the seasons and I’ve used it successfully with kids ages 2-8.
To go along with this book, I really wanted the kids to make magic trees of their own. I envisioned laying out a smorgasbord of tiny crafty treasures for them to glue to their trees. However, once I decided to do this with some large groups, I got a grip and decided to just stick with yarn. I cut up yarn into small pieces, about an inch long. I photocopied a basic tree for their base. Before handing out the glue, we practiced picking up one piece of yarn at a time, pressing it against the paper and counting to three before releasing. Then I handed out glue to the grown-ups and we coated their branches. They went at it with the yarn and made some beautiful, magic trees. If I had smaller groups, I really would have liked to emulate the book more and have different materials for each seasonal transition – yarn for the leaves, tissue paper for the blossoms, pom poms for the apples, glitter for the snow, you get my drift… but it just wasn’t feasible with the kid:grown-up ratio in my groups.