A Tree is Nice, by J. Udry

The simple text and illustrations are a wonderful introduction to why trees and are nice.


  • picnic basket, small blanket, thermos
  • Bag of dirt
  • Many sticks and small branches from trees
  • Small pine needle branches rubber banded together to make paint brushes
  • A variety of tree leaves found in your area, include pine needles
  • Leaf shapes for cutting
  • Sticks
  • Tree trunk page for each child
  • Paint sticks (free where you buy paint)
  • 10 empty tin cans


  • Valley-a low area of land between two hills or mountains.
  • Woods/Forest- when many trees grow together they make a woods.
  • Tree Trunk-the main part of the tree, like a humans torso.
  • Tree Limb-the part that comes out of the torso which is very thick. Branches grow off the limb.
  • Shade/Shadow – Where the sun is blocked from reaching the ground by an object.

Before Reading the Story

Tell the children that today you are going to read a story about a very special friend to all of us. Explain that you are going to give them clues to see if they can guess who or what this special friend is. The clues; This friend helps make air for us to breath, provides food for us to eat, provides wood for us to build with and paper for us to write with, this friend provides shelter and homes to many kinds of animals, helps keep us from getting sunburned, and tells us what season it is. Can you guess who this friend is? A tree! Let the children share with you anything they would like to about trees.

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; demonstrates increasing ability to attend to and understand conversations, stories, songs, and poems.

Reading the Story

If possible, take the children out to under a read this book.

On the first page where it says, athey fill up the whole sky, stop and ask the children if they have ever seen this many trees all together? Do they know what it is called? (forest, woods,backyard). On the page where it states, even if you have only one, ask the children to raise their hand if they have a tree in their yard? On the page where it is fall, remind the children that in the fall many tree leaves turn colors and fall off the tree. On the page where it talks about the trunk and limb of the tree, explain that the trunk is like our torsos and the limbs are like our arms but that trees have more than two arms. Count the limbs of the tree in the illustration (5). On the page where the tree holds off the wind, help the children to notice what happened to the dog house roof.

Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; grows in eagerness to learn about and discuss a growing range of topics, ideas, and tasks.

After Reading the Story

Show the page of the children climbing and picking apples in the tree. Ask them to think of other foods that come from trees. Or hold up the tree pictures for the children to name the food that comes from a tree. Has any child noticed that almost all of the food grown from trees is considered fruit?

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes.


Add binoculars that the children can use to look out the window into the trees. Ask them what they see (birds, clouds, leaves, squirrel, etc.).

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes.

Put out a variety of leaves and pine needles for the children to examine and compare. Encourage them to sort by smooth edges and pointy edges, big leaves and small leaves, by types. Add magnifying glass so children can see the veins of the leaves.

Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; begins to use senses and a variety of tools and simple measuring devices to gather information, investigate materials, and observe processes and relationships.

Music and Movement

Way up high in the apple tree, Make 2 fists and hold over head

Two red apples smiled down on me.

So I shook that tree as hard as I could Shake fists

And down came the apples

And they were good! Pretend to eat apple

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; demonstrates increasing ability to attend to and understand conversations, stories, songs, and poems.


Put out the wooden blocks and add paint sticks that can be used to enhance building structures.

Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; approaches tasks and activities with increased flexibility, imagination, and inventiveness. AND Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; grows in hand-eye coordination in building with blocks, putting together puzzles, reproducing shapes and patterns, stringing beads, and using scissors.


Put pine needle paint brushes out at the easel today to experiment painting with.

Creative Arts/Art; gains ability in using different art media and materials ina variety of ways for creative expression and representation.

Give the children a tree trunk page and show them how to use bingo daubers, circle stickers, finger prints, or Qtips to cover the tree with leaves. Do this according to the season or with lots of colors for festive looking trees.

Creative Arts/Art; develops growing ability to plan, work independently, and demonstrate care and persistence in a variety of art projects.

Library and Writing

Let the children cut out leaf shapes. Keep these on the simpler side. After the child has cut out a leaf, ask them to tell you why trees are nice and write their response on the leaf. Gather all the leaves cut and hang them on the wall around a tree trunk made from construction paper or paper bags.

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; develops growing strength, dexterity , and control needed to use tools such as scissors, paper punch, stapler, and hammer.

Add sticks of various lengths and challenge the children to try to make letters in their names with them.

Literacy/Alphabet Knowledge; shows progress in associating the names of letters with their shapes and sound.

Sand and Water

Add the dirt to the table today along with small shovels or spoons for the children to plant “trees” (sticks and small branches.

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; shows creativity and imagination in using materials and in assuming different roles in dramatic play situations.

Dramatic Play

Add a picnic basket and small blanket to the center so the children can pretend to go on a picnic.

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; participates in a variety of dramatic play activities that become more extended and complex.

Math and Manipulatives

Line the 10 empty, and cleaned, tin cans on the table. Label them 1-10 with markers or small pieces opf paper. Put out a bowl of sticks and challenge the children to fill the cans accordingly. For children who are more adept in counting, mix the cans up so the numbers are out of order.

Mathematics/Number & Operations; begins to associate number concepts, vocabulary, quantities, and written numerals in meaningful ways.

Outdoor Play

Take several books and a blanket outside for the children to read and relax under a tree. Take a few minutes to lay on your backs and look up into the tree and watch how the sun plays with the leaves. What else do you see?

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; shows growing interest in reading-related activities, such as asking to have a favorite book read; choosing to look at books; drawing pictures based on stories; asking to take books home; going to the library; engaging in pretend -reading with other children.

Bring in, or look for sticks on the playground, to practice writing names in the dirt.

Literacy/Early Writing; experiments with a growing varierty of writing tools and materials, such as pencils, crayons, and computers.

Hang an old stuffed animal (pillow case, pinata) from a tree and use a stick or wiffle ball bat for the children to practice swinging and hitting the stuffed animal.

Physical Health & Development/Gross Motor Skills; demonstrates increasing abilities to coordinate movements in throwing, catching, kicking, bouncing balls, and using a slide and swing.


Hold up, or draw large letters on a whiteboard/piece of paper. Ask the children if they can name the letter, the letter sound, or something that begins with that letter sound. Have them draw the letter in the air.

Literacy/Alphabet Knowledge;shows progress in associating the names of letters with their shape and sound.


Tree image for art
Leaves for cutting and writing on
Children cut leaves for tree

maple syrup
About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.