April 23, 2014

Tap the Magic Tree

Title: Tap the Magic Tree
 Christie Matheson (Author & Illustrator)

Comprehension Strategy: Questioning                       
Art Modality: Creative Movement

It begins with a bare brown tree. But tap that tree, turn the page, and one bright green leaf has sprouted! Tap again—one, two, three, four—and four more leaves have grown on the next page. Pat, clap, wiggle, jiggle, and see blossoms bloom, apples grow, and the leaves swirl away with the autumn breeze. The collage-and-watercolor art evokes the bright simplicity of Lois Ehlert and Eric Carle and the interactive concept will delight fans of Pat the Bunny. Combining a playful spirit and a sense of wonder about nature, Christie Matheson has created a new modern classic that is a winner in every season—and every story time! (Summary from HarperCollins Children’s.)

Tap the Magic Tree
felt: red, yellow, orange, blue, purple, pink and two different colors of green

Begin your lesson by focusing on students’ background knowledge. If possible provide a collection of photographs of trees in all seasons. You might collect these photos from calendars, Google images, or photography books. A walk outside to look at trees would be a nice beginning to discussing how trees change during the seasons.

After asking, “What do we already know about how trees change?”, begin to ask questions about Tap the Magic Tree. How are the branches on the cover different? Why are the branches different? What causes the branches to change? What will happen if we tap the tree? Is it really magic?

After reading the book, ask, "How do the heat of the sun and the movement of the wind affect the tree?” To explore these ideas through creative movement, pair the students. Explain that one student will be the tree. The other student will be the wind and the sun. As you reread the text, invite the sun/wind partner to move around the tree. This student will pretend to tap, jiggle and rub the tree to create a collaborative dance.
For example, when you read, “Now blow a whooshing breeze...” the wind partner might wave his arms toward the tree. When you read “Rub the tree to make it warm...”, ask the tree partner to explore how she might move her hands to represent the leaves and flowers as they bloom.

Art Extension:
To create a tactile center for creating art similar to the text’s illustrations, you’ll need red, yellow, orange, blue, purple, pink and two different colors of green felt. Duplicate the bare tree at the beginning of the story onto card stock. Cut simple leaves, blossoms, apples and snowflakes out of the felt to match the colors and sizes in the story. To use the center, a child taps and claps and wiggles his fingers to change the magic tree. As he is arranging the felt pieces on the tree, he will also have the opportunity to practice his sequencing and story retelling.

To get a peek at how delightfully interactive this book can be, watch the trailer:

You can also peek inside the book here: 

An activity guide with Common Core State Standards is also available: 


  1. I LOVE this book! I just ordered it. As a music teacher, it would be a great way to connect to apple and tree songs. Thanks so much! :)

  2. I love, love, love your blog and your wonderful reading ideas. I cannot wait to try some of these with my students. Thank you so much for sharing. Can't wait for your next post.


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