Begin the lesson by talking about the life cycle of a tree. Take your students outside and gather around the base of a tree (size doesn’t matter). Begin reading an excerpt from the writings of John Muir. He often will tell stories about his observations–speculating about what a tree, plant, animal, or other element of nature may of seen or experienced. After reading the excerpt, ask your students to think about the life of this tree they are observing–How did it get here? What types of difficulties might it have experienced as it was growing up? Are their any clues that have been left behind on the trunk, branches, or leaves of the tree that would further illustrate it’s life? Have the students write and/or draw a story about their tree. Ideally, they might incorporate both text and images into their stories.
(If you want to take this project a step further, you might want to first have a paper or book-making lesson using recycled paper and materials. The students could then rewrite their books onto this paper.)