It’s almost April and nearly time for the signature springtime cherry trees to blossom The National Park Service adjusted their forecast for the peak bloom period as falling during the last week of March 2016. According to the Cherry Blossom Watch site, most of the trees are approaching the “puffy white” stage.
THE BOOK – ELIZA’S CHERRY TREES
Have you ever wondered how the beautiful pink flowering trees — Sakura — came to Washington, D.C.?
The book Eliza’s Cherry Trees: Japan’s Gift to America by Andrea Zimmerman shares the journey of the trees and one woman’s vision in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After being smitten by the country of Japan and Japanese cherry trees, Eliza Scidmore — writer, photographer, and geographer — fought for what she called “the most beautiful trees in the world” to be planted along the riverbank in the capital city of the United States. Eliza met with much opposition from parks supervisors and president Taft.
“Eliza knew that sometimes when you have a good idea, you have to keep trying.”
Finally, the trees arrived in 1910 as a gift from Tokyo but had to be destroyed because of disease. A second shipment came in 1912 and have been an icon ever since.
The book touches on life as a woman in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Eliza’s travels, writing, and work at the National Geographic Society. It’s a story of determination, overcoming obstacles.
Teacher’s note: This is a great mentor text for topic sentence. The book begins with this opening line: “Sometimes a person with a good idea can make a big difference. Eliza Scidmore was one of those people. She changed America’s capital, Washington, D.C..”
THE CRAFT: CHERRY TREE CARDS
For a springtime craft, your children or students can make their own Sakura prints or cards (they work especially well for Mother’s Day).Pictured with the book are three different styles: tissue paper, sponge painted, and finger printed. Scroll to the bottom to download the silhouette tree.
1) Tissue Paper Trees // Cut pink tissue paper (use several shades if you have) into 1-inch squares. Wrap the squares around the eraser end of a pencil. Young kids will need help getting the squares on the pencil. Add a drop of glue on the tree and press pencil down to secure. Crumple the tissue so it resembles a bud. Repeat until you have a tree filled with blossoms. This is my favorite of the three.
2) Sponge Painted Trees // Pour pink paint onto a paper plate or flat dish. We used Crayola Washable Pink paint here but you could use different shades and/or acrylic paint with older children. Cut a piece of sponge into a half-inch square. Dip sponge into paint and dab away on your tree. This method creates a nice texture. My son’s favorite
3) Finger Printed/Stamped Trees // Use paint to stamps to create fingerprinted blossoms on your tree. We used chalk-based stamping ink here but finger paint would be a lot of fun, especially for the younger set.
The silhoutted tree really makes the pink colors pop. This is an easy project, recommended for kids 3 and up and would make an excellent Mother’s Day craft as well. Make one or try all three! Click to download the template of the tree silhouette —> tree_download. It should print TWO per page but you may have to play around with sizing on your printer.
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