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STEM, Art

Tree of Life Watercolor Painting

This is a wonderful learning experience that inspires great conversations and encourages new insights!

Invite your child to reflect on his personal history (no matter how short it might be) and think about his unique life story. With this, your child will gain a deeper understanding of himself and how he has changed, and will continue to change, over time. 

There are many ways that children can develop their own personal timelines and share their stories, but one way to do this (and tie in some scientific exploration and discovery) is to start out by looking at a cross section of a tree trunk.

Each year, a tree forms a new layer of cells. If we could look inside a tree’s trunk, we would see these cells arranged in concentric circles called growth rings. These rings help us better understand a tree’s personal story by telling us its age and giving us insight into its unique history. The rings provide clues that identify some of the major events that happened in its lifetime.

Explore A Tree’s Life, to learn more about the history of this particular tree. Then ask your child, “If you were a tree what would your rings say about your life?” 


Not a member? Here’s how you can re-create this experience at home!

You will need:

Begin by drawing a large circle on a piece of paper and invite your child to draw the number of rings that matches his age. Choose one important event/milestone from each year of his life such as when he took his first steps, lost a tooth, spoke his first words, or welcomed a sibling into the family. This is where storytelling and connection comes in – spend time sharing your child’s stories and reminiscing about all of the “firsts” in his life.

Then use a black sharpie marker to write in, or have your child dictate to you, each event along a growth ring. Start with his first year of life in the center and work outward. 

Finally, paint over top of the rings with watercolor paints.

This is definitely a keepsake project that looks beautiful when displayed in your home and would be fun to revisit and discuss each year to document your child’s growth. 


Resources and Inspiration (members only):

Do-It-Together Experiences: All About Trees

Trees Thematic Exploration

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Playful Learning Field Guides

Grab these handy field guides on your way to park or walk around the block. Add a basket for collecting and a magnifying glass for observing you are set for a memorable outdoor adventure