The Giving Tree

Possible Classroom Concepts: Science – Tree Purposes, Ecology (Recycling, Repurposing), Decomposition

Language Arts – Literature, Social Studies –  Careers/Community Helpers

Possible Art Concepts: Art History -Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Camille Pissarro, Winslow Homer, Grandma Moses, Eastman Johnson, Tinker Hatfield, Chakaia Booker, Irving Penn, Jacob Lawrence, John Grade

Medium (Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Other), Art Careers (Painter, Sculptor, Commercial Artist [Shoe Designer, illustrator, Photographer])

I was hoping to get this post completed by Earth Day. That didn’t happen! I didn’t want to wait another entire year to create the post, so here it is.

I’m sure, when you think “The Giving Tree”, you probably think Shel Silverstein. So do I. However, in the last couple of weeks it’s come to mean so much more. I was helping my friend and kindergarten teacher, Betsy, find some art exemplars for a tree unit. She wasn’t just looking for examples showing a tree’s structure. She was teaching a unit on “Why trees are important to humans?” That started me thinking. We all know the most important thing trees provide for humans is good ole H2O. We can’t live without that, but just as the tree in Silverstein’s book kept giving and giving, so do all trees. Trees provide fruits, syrups, drinks, and rubber, but check out how many ways the remainder of the tree can be used here. AMAZING!!!!

Artists also appreciate trees and have been inspired by them to create art works for many years. This post will provide some art works that you can use with your children to help discover tree uses or as a review for tree uses.

Artists have created paintings illustrating fruit picking.hb_19.164_av4

Can you spy the boy hanging upside down in the tree and throwing pears to the boys on the ground in this close up from Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Harvesters” painting?

Camille Pissarro depicts apple harvesting in the above three paintings: “The Apple Pickers”, “Apple Picking”  and  “Apple Harvest”.


Just last week, I had the opportunity to see Winslow Homer’s “Apple Picking, 1878” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent” exhibit. 

I’ve also talked about fruit bearing trees and an art project here.


Artist, Grandma Moses illustrates something we might do with the apples collected from a tree in this painting entitled, “Apple Butter Making”. Find the apple butter making process described by Moses here. Look closely at the painting. Can you spy the different steps in the apple butter making process?


Grandma Moses illustrates another product from trees, maple syrup, in “Sugaring Off”.  Another artist, Eastman Johnson has created oil sketches illustrating the sugaring off process.

We also get rubber from trees. I have talked about rubber used in sneakers (plimsolls) here.  Speaking of sneakers, has anyone seen the new Netflix series, Abstract, The Art of Design. There is a wonderful episode on Tinker Hatfield, shoe designer for Nike. This is a must see. Sculptor, Chakaia Booker recycles tires, which are made of rubber, to create sculptures.

Trees can be chopped down and their wood can be used to build things. First the trees must be taken down. Famous photographer, Irving Penn, took a photo entitled “Tree Climber and Pruner” . You can find the image here . Penn did a whole series of worker portraits which can be found here . Jacob Lawrence’s Carpenters”  shows people building with wood. Sculptor,  John Grade built a tree sculpture from reclaimed cedar for the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC. At the end of the exhibit, he placed the tree back in the forest where it will decay and ultimately become soil to grow more trees.

So, these have been a few ways artists have shown the importance of trees. I’m sure there are many more.

Thanks Betsy for the post idea!

Hope this post made you want to plant a tree. Humans really need them.

I’d love to hear what you think and/or how you might have taught trees in your classroom. Simply click on the title of this post and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s