A lovely way to awaken children’s global consciousness is to read a book by Lynne Cherry. Each year, for the 15 years I taught Latin American teachers, we read, dramatized and videotaped her The Great Kapok Tree (El gran capoquero). To help
children begin to imagine and create a better future for planet Earth, we created classroom lessons such as this one.
The Great Kapok Tree
Author: Lynne Cherry
Summary: A man came to a tropical forest to cut a tree. He leaned back to take a nap, at which time the animals surrounded him to explain why should not cut trees. The book has beautiful illustrations and the writing evokes strong sensations and feelings.
- Summarize and express the main idea after reading a lesson
- Explain the importance of preserving the trees.
Concrete experience. Explore a tree in the neighborhood. For ideas, see Project Learning Tree’s “Adopt a Tree.” https://www.plt.org
Connect. Question: do you know about the trees? Why are they important?
Predict. Look at the cover of the book and choral read the title. Ask: What do you think is going to happen in this book?
Make inferences. When looking at each page, imagine what it will be about. Infer how the story characters feel.
Actively read. Assign older students a character’s dialogue to read. More than one student can read each role. For younger children, have them imitate sounds and/or movements of the characters.
Respond. Did you like the selection or not? If you liked it, say, “trees!”
Retell. Have students do one or more of the following:
- Create a slogan to express an important idea of the book. Repeat chorally.
- Draw or tell their favorite part of the story.
- Create masks, puppets and/or costumes to represent a favorite character.
- Compose original music for the story.
- Build a tree with brown paper and recycled materials.
- Act out the entire story with sound effects and interesting lighting.
- Videotape and watch and/or present to parents, other classes or others.
Extend. (optional) Create a campaign to care for, save or plant trees in your community.
Reflect. Ask: What activity did you like most and why?