If we take a walk through the woods, we’ll see a pine tree. We might see also see a snowflake, pinecone, icicle or a snowman in the Woodlands. This wonderful learning theme is Winter in the Woods from Experience Early Learning preschool curriculum. See our pine tree investigation and all the learning taking place!
Pine Tree Life Cycle
The pine tree life cycle Make and Play tree is a wonderful way for children to learn about nature. My mixed age group was excited to cut out the triangles – a challenge for many of them so I helped. I always introduce the activity and let them do what they can do. Sometimes we need to tape or glue pieces back together, but it’s important that they get time to practice their cutting skills.
I used a set of pine tree life cycle cards on our pine tree investigation table.
This tray from the Dollar Tree is perfect for simple activities like this. It has four sections, one for each card. I wrote 1-4 on it with a dry erase marker (see pictures below) to match the cards to the life cycle order.
Our pine tree investigation table includes:
- 3 types of pine greenery
- life cycle cards and tree
- magnifying glasses
- a small pine tree
- wood slices
- pine tree cube cards and connecting cubes
- Plan Toys Stacking Tree
Look at the tiny pinecones we found! Such a neat discovery.
I love using natural items for children to handle, explore and play with. Natural items like sticks, branches, and pinecones are readily available and appeal to the senses.
My mother in law cut some greenery from around their yard and gave it to me to use for this activity so I don’t know what types they all are, but I believe blue spruce and cypress. I’m not sure what type of evergreen the last one is that’s pictured.
This pine branch is quite pokey!
It requires *careful* touching otherwise you might get poked! No children were hurt during this activity but this branch sure was pokey. All three had different textures to explore.
We didn’t get to it this time, but check out this awesome tree trimming station idea at The Geeked Out Nanny Agency.
See our table in action: Lots to explore for multiple children at one time.
I point out different things they can do or ask questions like, how do you think that feels? What can you find with your magnifying glass? Can you build a tree with the different parts – branches, sticks, wood rounds, pinecones?
My 3’s and 4’s were more engaged with the life cycle cards and process. The younger ones enjoyed touching, stacking the pine tree toy, and snapping together the connecting cubes.
If I didn’t guide some of the activities, they may not know what they could do with them. These types of tables take time to enjoy so I left it out for a couple of days.
This stacking tree toy has been a favorite for years!
Tall Pine Tree
I was so thrilled with this simple activity! Each month Experience Early Learning kits include cube cards. They can be inserted into a pocket cube for creating a game or activity. You can use these cards in multiple ways (one reason I love this amazing preschool curriculum is the flexibility). This time I simply put them in a basket with the connecting cubes. How you present materials to children matters and I like to change things up from time to time to keep it all interesting.
The children chose a card and then counted how many cubes tall the tree was. Then they counted out the cubes and made the tree.
I loved how one of the two-year-olds “counted” her cubes. She pointed to each one and said, “Green, green, green!” LOVE! I can tell she is working on identifying her colors and she knows green.
The connecting cubes were also included in the Winter in the Woods box.
The children are free to use the materials how they choose, but the one below needed a little guidance since it was looking a bit suspicious – no weapons allowed.
Kids love sticks! They can be used in so many ways. Here you can see some counting taking place.
Then this 4-year-old asked me, “Which one is taller?” or longer. I helped him even out the ends so they all were held the same. Then I could talk with him about which one was longer, shorter and in between.
Little discoveries can be made when we allow children time to explore!
My group discovered that the connecting cubes fit on the sticks. Well, that’s fun!
Some fit and some didn’t so there was some quiet experimentation happening that I would have missed if I didn’t sit back and observe.
I cut the branches of our evergreens apart so they were smaller. Then they can be used to make our own trees.
A pretty little pine tree!
This one features several different types of greenery.
Decorating the Tree
Since it’s holiday time, we also talked about using the pine tree for a Christmas tree. I don’t have one in my home, but all of my kids do.
Of course, kids aren’t usually allowed to play with the tree, so our little pine tree and non-shattering ornaments let them play and practice decorating.
This trim the tree dramatic play center is simple and engaging. We left it up all through the holiday season for ongoing play.
Winter in the Woods is one of my most favorite themes from Experience Early Learning! See more related posts below.
More Winter in the Woods Activities
- Bis for Bear Den
- Winter in the Woods: What’s in the Box?
- Pokey Like a Hedgehog
- Winter in the Woods Small World Play
- Winter in the Woods Dioramas
I received curriculum from Experience Early Learning for honest and authentic stories resulting from my daily experiences using the curriculum. As a user of Experience Preschool for many years, I am pleased to share quality educational experiences. #sponsored #ExperienceEarlyLearning