Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Happiness Tree

 ~ Book Review

by Andrea Alban Gosline
Illustrated by Lisa Burnett Bossi
ISBN: 978-0312370176

About the book:

"Everything good begins with me, 
the acorn told it's mother tree,
and drifted on the dancing breeze,
to find a cloak of golden leaves...."

So begins the magical journey from seed of hope to forest of happiness! Andrea Gosline invites tree lovers of all ages to discover life's treu gifts - peace, courage, compassion, gratitude, love, tolerance... Lisa Bossi's "gorgeous jewel-toned illustrations featuring anthropomorphized trees are sure to be pored over by young readers, who will be taken in by their fairy-forest quality." (Kirkus Reviews) Included are lyrical tree bios, an index of state trees, and a pledge to care for our precious forest friends.

My thoughts:
This book is for older preschoolers to readers who are comfortable reading on their own. You child will learn about 10 different trees and watch them grow from seed to full grown tree throughout many seasons. Each of the trees tale is told in lyrical verse beginning with the fall of one acorn before winter, through the long winter's sleep and then as the seed begins to grow above the ground in the spring. From there we learn about each tree's gift ~ there's hope, love, courage, gratitude, peace, compassion, tolerance, generosity, honesty and happiness. Each of these gifts is a character trait that parents attempt to teach their child as they grow up and hope to see some part of as they become adults.

Teaching ideas:
I was looking at The Happiness Tree from a viewpoint of teaching these character traits and also trying to come up with a way to help children remember each trait through art. 

1) Break down each tree's verse and work on memorizing it's verse during the week. As an example for the Oak Tree ~ you will learn about Hope. Talk about what Hope means with your child. Learn the verse associated with this tree ~ quote it as you wake your child in the morning and after their nap. Encourage them to memorize it and quote it with you.

"I welcome morning's ringing light,
dream with crescent moons at night,
expect the joy that rainbows bring,
anticipate unfurling spring."
I begin.

2) Go for a walk and look for acorns and oak trees. Bring home a few oak leaves and put them around your house to decorate. Preserve them between wax paper, let your child cut them out (or you do it if their to little) and help them create a mobile to hang in their room using a couple of oak twigs.

You can break down a verse and learn about a tree and the character trait associated with it each week. Begin to teach younger children to memorize verses (just like you do nursery rhymes) and quote them throughout the day. If you see your child being courageous, compassionate (kind) quote the verse as an encouragement to them. 

Learning to quote verses in preschool will also help your child as they begin to need to start memorizing spelling words, math tables, history facts - that part of their brain will already be strengthened for these kinds of tasks.

Other activities you can do ~ use found objects in nature to collage. put a big branch on your wall and use string, yarn and netting to display seeds, flowers, leaves, nests (I'd make sure there aren't any bugs, etc), pods, etc - try to find items that tie into the different trees you are studying each week. 

Autumn Leaves are Falling (scroll down)
Fall Activities - Rubbings, printing, a sock walk
Parable of the Sower Envelope Book - Mark 4:1-9 w/ questions

Loved this book ~ loved the illustrations. The website is an awesome tool for parents and teachers to use for ideas on how to use these books as learning tools. I personally would recommend using it for kids Kindergarten and up ~ but you can also use it as I mentioned above for kids 3+. Just break it down so it's not to much in a setting. You'll find at the back of the book an explanation of the 10 different trees and the character trait they each stand for. You'll find a comprehensive list of state trees, a pledge and encouragement to plant a Happiness Tree of your own on Arbor Day.

Visit the author's website and take time to explore. You'll find a store with prints from their books, parenting & children's books, teaching guides, and more.

I received a copy of The Happiness Tree from the author in exchange for a review. I was not required to have a positive review and no money exchange hands. Thanks!

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