The Tree Lady is a beautiful book about a woman whose determination and love of trees transformed San Diego. It’s the perfect accompaniment to activities related to Earth Day or a unit on trees. See my suggestions below!
Title: The Tree Lady
Author/Illustrator: H. Joseph Hopkins (Author), Jill McElmurry (Illustrator)
Kate Sessions’ love of trees drove her transform the dry, desert town of San Diego into a lush oasis of gardens and parks, including the now beloved Balboa Park.
This nonfiction narrative takes readers through Kate’s life and highlights several challenges she overcame as a woman in science. The author highlights these achievements with a repetitive word pattern that ends with, “but Kate did.”
No woman ever graduated from the University of California with a degree in science. But in 1881, Kate did.
Plant a tree: Use Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree Wizard” to decide which tree is best for your growing conditions.
Identify trees: Use Arbor Day Foundation’s free identification tool to identify trees in your community.
Estimate the height of a tree: First ask your kids to brainstorm ways to estimate the height, then test their ideas and/or use these methods:
A) Use surrounding structures: Estimate a tree’s height based on surrounding structures (hint: a standard utility pole is about 40 feet long)
B) Use your shadow: On a sunny day, use your shadow to estimate a tree’s length.
1) Measure your shadow
2) Measure yourself
3) Measure the tree’s shadow
4) Calculate (tree’s shadow X your height) / your shadow = tree’s height
- C) Use simple trigonometry:
1) Slowly walk away from the tree
2) Stop every few steps, bend over, and peer through your legs
3) Stop when you can see just see the top of the tree
4) Stretch a measuring tape across the ground from the tree to where you are standing. This distance is roughly equal to the tree’s height.
(Explanation: If you look at the top of a tree at a 45 degree angle, the height of the tree is equal to your distance from the tree).
You can also learn more about some of these methods, and additional methods, at the website Science and Plants for Schools.
Discuss Kate Session’s character traits and what made her successful. Learn more about Kate by watching this short video documentary.
How I obtained the book: I bought this book