Lessons From a Tree

Bana is a tall bushy tree that grows in Syria according to Bana Alabed, the author of My Name is Bana. This book is a meditation on what it means to be strong and resilient in the face of hardship and change. Children should not be expected to endure the things that many refugee children endure, just as trees do not deserve to be destroyed thoughtlessly for monetary gain. Unfortunately, both of those things are common in our world today. Many of my students are immigrants from Yemen, which has also seen its share of unspeakable things. This book focuses on strength and hope. It focuses on the way we can bring new life from the ashes of destruction if we are strong, brave, resilient, and hopeful.

In my STEAM classroom, I would focus on trees. I will take walks outside to sketch trees and notice how their roots anchor them to the earth and their branches grow to the sky. My school has recently planted dozens of tiny trees around the edge of our parking lot and our soccer field. I want my students to try to think of what these trees might be like in 5 years. How will they help our school community? What purpose might they serve during recess or field day? I will also challenge my students to make models of trees using craft sticks, wires, wood, and whatever else I can come up with. The goal will be to build a tree that will withstand a “storm” made by my watering can in a tub of sand and soil. We will sketch and collect data and then draw conclusions about what makes trees survive the storms. Maybe we can find some application there for our own storms of life.

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