Lesson Summary

The overarching understandings desired are that all life must be nourished to thrive, but can also adapt and survive in response to trauma and hardship. 

The goal or big idea is to have students reflect on their personal experiences as a metaphor to explore the life cycles of trees and the mapping of rings as a document of the past.

Learning Objectives

Students will understand as a result of this lesson is that just as the life experiences of a tree and its environmental conditions leave their marks as rings in the cross-section of a tree's core, so do the experiences of humans leave impressions, but often unseen.

Students will:

  • Know how to use metaphor to describe life experiences
  • Be able to depict their experiences using symbols
  • Understand the complex network of nourishment and life involved in the evolution and growth of a tree
  • Demonstrate visually how color and form can express emotions and map life experience
  • Look at various artist paintings that explore both trees and concentric circles ex. Kandinsky

Evidence of Learning

Students will reflect on their work and compare and evaluate the work of their peers. 

Download: tree evaluation.pdf

Download: tree of life reflection.pdf

Standards Addressed

(Note: The standards addressed will also be entered in the "Describe" section on the next screen. Information entered on the Describe page allows other educators to search for your resource by Grade, Subject and Common Core State Standard.)

Lesson Content

Outline teaching and learning experiences, below, that will equip students to demonstrate the targeted understandings.

Anticipatory Set: Students will observe both trees and tree rings, analyze how the passage of time is mapped out in the trees growth.

Modeling of Procedures by Teacher: A demonstration of media technique will show how the materials can be manipulated to yield desired result.

Activity or Practice of Content: Students will map out significant events in there life and assign colors to reflect their emotional impact. Students will pair share their work with each other.

Reflection/Processing/Closure:  Students will reflect on their work and participate in a group critique. Trees and rings will be displayed together as pairs.

Materials and Resources

  • Tempra paint
  • Watercolor
  • 12X12 watercolor paper
  • 6x12 watercolor paper
  • pencil


  • nourishment
  • draught
  • metaphor

Amy Wong student example.jpg

Three student examples .jpg

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