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A Wish Tree for Me

Age: 0 to 5 Time: 1 hour+
Materials: Small cards or pieces of cardboard, markers, twine, 'Wish Tree' by Kyo Maclear (optional)
Skills: Communication, Curiosity, Imagination, Naturalist, Persistence & Grit, Self Esteem

Featured in our #OutdoorsAll4 challenge, ‘Wish Tree’ offers kids the opportunity to make thoughtful wishes--for themselves, people they love, the world--and then hang those wishes on their own special trees. The Wish Tree, written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Chris Turnham first inspired this activity and continues to inspire this team! Reading or watching a reading of the book is a sweet way to start, but you can enjoy wish making with or without a story!

The Guide

Set up:

Gather all of the materials needed to write down your wishes. You can do this inside before you set out on a walk, or you can take the materials with you and write down wishes outside as you walk.

Talk with kids about wishes they have for the new year and help to write them down. Punch a hole through the top of each card, put a loop of twine through it, and tie a knot in the twine.

Invitation: Hang Your Wishes

  • Pack up your wish cards and head out to your yard, park or into the woods.
  • As you walk, stop to notice animals, treasures and other features of winter. If you had the chance to read the book, you can talk about how it’s just like Charlie does in The Wish Tree.
  • As you encounter trees, take a moment to feel them, smell them, rub your cheeks against them and wonder if each could be your “wish tree.” Whenever you find a tree that feels right, stop and make a wish or two, and hang them on the tree. You may search long and hard for one wish tree, or you may find that every tree is a wish tree.
  • Whenever you’re ready, reverse course and take down the wishes to leave no trace behind. Be sure to whisper your wishes to the trees—they’ll remember if you do!
  • Optional: Store your wishes and bring them back out in summer. If you hold onto them, they get even sweeter a few years down the road!

Why is this activity great for kids?

Wishes are great tools for kids. They reinforce a growth mindset--that we are always changing and we can have hopes for the future. They also help kids learn about time--now vs. future is a big concept, and the idea of wishing and hoping supports that. As a family, wishes are a great way to sneak in what you value, too. You can model wishing for peace, a healthier planet or whatever you consider to be ‘true north’ for your family.

Do This Activity In A Class

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Do It Yourself

We think all families should be learning outside. Try this activity with your child and begin to see the power in outdoor, play-based learning. Have fun!