Our learning about the kindness of trees

Division 28 at Willows Elementary School has been excited to learn about the kindness of trees. Earlier this year, we reflected on how we feel after playing amongst the trees and wondered how we could help others who cannot experience the first-hand benefits of trees. We considered people we know living in care homes and hospitals and decided to launch a tree photography project to bring the joy of trees into the lives of others. We learned how to take great pictures of trees from students in an Oak Bay High School Photography class and invited other primary classes at École Willows School to join our mission.  With even more people isolated and quarantined in homes, this need is now greater than ever and we would like to invite YOU to help us connect our community to the kindness of trees! We thank you for your support!

Below we share our learning about how trees show kindness!

Trees make us feel calm and happy!

Have you ever noticed how you feel after spending time amongst the trees? Scientists say that trees make us feel calm and happy and help us heal faster if we are sick. Even looking at a picture of a tree can have similar benefits! 

 

How do you feel after spending time around trees?

 

Check out these websites for more information on the benefits of spending time amongst the trees:

Tree Families

When tree roots meet those of a neighbouring tree, they can detect if they belong to the same species. If so, these trees are part of the same family. Just like in our own families, trees can love and take care of each other through their root connections. You can compare bark, leaves, and seeds to confirm which trees belong to the same species or family.

How does your family show you love and kindness?

Just Breathe...the gift of oxygen!

Trees use sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to create oxygen. Humans and other animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Peter Wohlleben shares in his book, "Can You Hear the Trees Talking?", that a single large tree produces enough oxygen for twenty people to breathe. Trees also clean the air that we breathe, removing harmful toxins to keep us healthy!

How do you feel after breathing deeply?

Homes for all!

Trees show kindness by providing homes for other creatures and animals like birds, squirrels, bats, and insects. Living trees offer homes to these creatures in cracks, holes, crevices, and in their branches. When they die, trees continue to serve as homes for other creatures in holes made by woodpeckers, fallen down logs and in leaf piles.

What is your home made of?

Sleep away...

Just as we can be kind to ourselves by getting adequate sleep, scientists are learning that trees actually relax their branches when the sun goes down at night. Trees also offer wonderful climbing opportunities to humans who would like to get some exercise, which is also an important part of demonstrating kindness to ourselves. Read about what happens when trees rest in this link.

How do you feel after a good night's sleep?

A helping hand...or branch!

Trees that are sick or dying share their nutrients and resources through the fungal networks to support neighbouring trees. And healthy trees help sick trees by that same exchange of nutrients. Even trees of different species share food and support the growth of nearby trees! For more information on how trees share with each other, watch this video:

How do you help friends or family who are hurt?

Trees warn each other of danger!

When a tree is under attack by insects, it changes the chemistry of its leaves, making it less tasty for insects. The tree then warns its neighbours by sending chemical signals through their roots and fungal networks. Other trees are then able to protect themselves from attack by quickly changing the chemistry of their leaves as well. Many Indigenous communities, particularly the Coast Salish communities, consider trees to be ancestors and seek their help in times of need.

How do you keep friends and family safe?

Nurse logs

Nurse logs are fallen trees that, as they decay, provide nutrients and support the growth of new plants or trees. Nurse logs also help provide habitat and refuge for animals, birds, and insects in a forest.

How can you nurture new friendships?

Trees share food..

Trees share fruit, nuts, and seeds and lots of other edible parts. Humans, and more than humans have been using trees for food and medicine since time immemorial.

How can you share with others?