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What Can You Learn from a Tree Named Stevie?
July 15, 2022
Much like a dandelion must show tenacity and adaptability, children are capable of the same.
-Jillian T. Ahern and Kelly Twibell Sanchez, Early Childhood Professionals

“At the beginning of the school year, our children chose a tree from the schoolyard to be our adopted tree. Together we named our tree Stevie, and spent time getting to know it.” So opens an article by William Straits and Lauren M. Shea on how trees inspired countless math investigations. It’s one of four articles included in the newest Exchange Reflections discussion guide, “Let’s Go Outside.”

In one of the other articles, Clare Nugent reflects on starting a children’s garden, “It suddenly dawned on me that children’s innate urges to run, move, imagine, and play do not change when they step through the garden gate. If anything, the garden’s colors, textures, smells, and unique objects awaken and ignite children’s need to play. This epiphany caused a shift in my personal ideas about what a children’s garden should be—how it looks, feels, and what happens within its gate. I began to understand that a garden can be not only a special place to play, but an outdoor classroom rich in possibilities for every early learner.”

Nugent explores, along with Sandra Duncan, opportunities to support the ‘players’ in a garden, including children who collect, dig, transform, tell stories and investigate, while Angel Stoddard’s brief reflection asks, “Can cucumbers really grow in an urban setting with no real space for a garden? Much to the delight of these children and their teacher, the answer was a surprising, ‘Yes!’” And finally, Jillian T. Ahern and Kelly Twibell Sanchez declare, “Where others see a pest, we see a learning partner,” sharing how children learn empathy and resilience from dandelions.

NEW Exchange Reflections

Exchange Reflections are designed to help a team of people meet in-person or live online to think deeply together about a topic using an article from Exchange magazine as a guide. Included are discussion questions to help guide reflections, as well as a Making Commitments idea sheet to help prompt ideas into action. For your convenience, Exchange Reflections are available in PDF format and you can download immediately on your desktop.


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