Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tree Seasons Mentor Text and Freebie

It's Wednesday and I'm worn out.

Tonight was Back to School Night, so even though things went well, I am mentally exhausted.  There is just so much pressure that comes with presenting to a room full of parents.  Fortunately, I have some supportive ones this year and tonight went smoothly.

Rather than digging in to lesson planning, which requires too much mental effort, I have chosen to blog!  Hurray!

I am a few days late to Collaboration Cuties' linky party, but I just couldn't wait to share this cute mentor text with you.

Our Tree Named Steve is a super cute story written somewhat like a letter.  The author of the letter is a father who is writing to his kids about their family friend, Steve the tree.  Steve is a unique and huge tree that has sat in the family's yard for years.  Steve has supported swings and clotheslines; has watched play time and picnics; and has survived various calamities.  The family considers Steve to be a friend, which is why the father is sad to have to tell the kids that a recent storm knocked Steve over.  However, he does not leave them feeling sad, but rather shows them that Steve will still be with them in the form of a tree house.

This story is great to use for a science unit on seasons or trees or both.  Though the book does not specifically describe the seasons, students can notice the changes in the tree on different pages of the book.  My kids were excited to point out the orange leaves in fall and the bare, snow-covered branches in winter.  

What's more, is this book is a good lead-in to the adoption of a classroom tree.  Each year, I have my class adopt a tree on the school grounds.  Throughout the year, we make several visits to the tree to observe how it changes in different seasons.  The students have a tree booklet in which they draw and write about the seasonal changes.  It's really fun for them to record their observations like real scientists.  Also, it's cool for them to see how their drawing and writing abilities progress over the course of the year.

My class adopted our tree today and then did their Summer sketch, since the season is almost over.  I always have to rush to get in the first visit before fall kicks in.  We all had a lot of fun checking out our tree friend.  I told the students they could think of a name, so we will be voting on one soon.

If you'd like an Tree Seasons booklet, click the picture below to download the freebie.  Hope you enjoy!

Also, don't forget to enter to win a pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies.  There are just a few more days to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Finally, I've been a super slacker on writing up my India journal entries.  Sorry about that.  I have been home for close to two months (hard-to-believe!), so I really need to finish sharing them with you soon.

Here's the second part of Day Eight.  I promise this entry is super cool and does not contain sad stories of orphans.  It actually includes a connection to the book Holes, which you teacher types might appreciate.

Left My Heart in Hyderabad

Day Eight: Part 2
Visit to Father's Farm

Before lunch, some kids (Nickayla, Hashita etc.) took us on a muddy walk down a farm road. When I looked around out there, I noticed the huge rocky mountains scattered around the plains.  They didn’t make a neat, traditional mountain range, but rather jutted up here and there along the horizon.  So beautiful.

For lunch we had noodle soup, bananas, and a tapioca electrolyte syrup.  Yum…not.  The syrup was weird and it took forever to eat with my miniscule spoon.  However, I am sure that I have not been drinking enough, so I hope the electrolytes help me and everyone else rehydrate.

For a while after lunch we sat and watched the children eat and watch TV.  That was weird.  Sitting in front of me was a sea of orphans of all ages.  All of them raking their fingers through rice and scooping up curry.  Their eyes were glued to the screen.  At first, I thought they should not care about TV because of where they live and their backgrounds.  It seems like a waste of time for them.  However, as I thought about it more, I realized that they probably have the right idea about TV.  It is a special treat to watch occasionally, not a necessity.  Pretty soon after the kids ate, we left them to head over to the other farm, Father’s Farm.  We only had a small van so it took three trips.  I went on the 2nd trip and almost got in the driver’s.  Paul encountered many obstacles on the way while driving including cows, kids, a motorcycle, and a fence that had been blown down by the wind.

 At the farm, I petted dogs; stroked adorable, albino, baby, bunnies; and planted a papaya plant.  I also saw eggplant, banana, and peanut plants growing in the fields.  May told us that everyone dreams of growing more, but there is not enough water.  Out of the 7 drilled wells, 2 produce water.  That is so sad to me.  The workers have the amazing goal of using the farms to provide all the food and money need to care for the orphans, but right now things are not working out.  It actually breaks my heart to hear how hard everyone is working and how faithful they are to serving the Lord despite the minimal positive outcomes.  I am really challenged by everyone's sacrificial service, and I feel extremely burdened to pray for the farm.  I just have this feeling that it's only a matter of time before God rains down abundant blessings on His faithful servants.  I hope I'm right.

Before we left, E decided we should climb part way up the mountain.  We had to climb over a barbed wire fence and pass through a herd of goats.  Then, we had to weave through tress/bushes and over rocks to get up.  Each time we stopped, I was overwhelmed by the beauty.  Green fields spread out for miles.  Palm trees reached up toward the sky.  Mountains loomed in the distance. 

 When we reached the "summit," I joined J, W, and BJ in scaling a HUGE rock with the help of two nationals.  I had to take my shows off and reach up to will without any other handhold to get up.  Crazy, but awesome.  I felt like I was on top of the world.

What’s insane is that when I looked over at the mountain next to the one we were on, I realized it looked like a thumb.  That reminded me of the God's thumbnail mountain in Holes and the fact that in the book there is water on God’s thumbnail.  The farm needs water!  Aaahh! 

Once all of us crazy climbers half slid/half stepped down the rocks, the whole team gathered to pray for the farm.  It was powerful, especially because the sun started coming out.  It was like the light chasing out the darkness that covers this land. 

Back at the farm, we drank chai and ate roasted peanuts as we chatted.  The rooster scared M, who scared A, who scared me.  We all jumped up and screamed, which caused everyone to laugh. 

The "Oh So Terrifying Rooster"
Despite the scare, I can honestly say that this afternoon was one of the coolest experiences of my life.  It has definitely been a day I will never forget.

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