by Katie Engen, M.Ed
This mini review is part of a series by Katie Engen that examines different types of anxiety, offering young readers an opportunity for social-emotional learning.
Anxiety about change, about the fearful unknown, can make people stubborn or disconnected. It can lead to rigid thinking. In order to spark maturity and growth, we have to be open to new information.
Little Tree lives in a big-city courtyard. He refuses to let cats climb or birds and butterflies rest, since they may damage his new leaves. Everyone is distraught or annoyed with Little Tree.
Then autumn arrives. Little Tree is shocked when his carefully-preserved leaves... turn yellow! But a clever crow patiently teaches seasonal cycles to Little Tree. When spring finally returns, Little Tree happily invites creatures of all sorts to celebrate among his leafy branches. He has learned something about surviving change.
Younger readers can recap the change process by drawing Little Tree across the four seasons. Guide them to add a symbol on his trunk that stands for his INSIDE feelings about his changes (e.g. frowning face or stop-sign on his summer trunk; smile or big heart in final spring trunk).
Older readers can craft a personal timeline for when ‘learning a new fact’ helped them change in some way. Timeline labels or symbols can include seed, sapling, leaf, new blooms.
Katie O’Brien Engen, M.Ed, currently works in private practice to mentor students with executive functioning and language processing challenges. She also writes stories and cross-curricular lessons to engage young minds with big ideas, does writing work for hire, and reviews books for various kidlit outlets. Katie is fueled by faith and laughter, and rarely is she too busy for family, sports, or ice cream. She lives in Maryland where one of her favorite runs is the ~10 miles to the Washington Monument in D.C. Learn more about Katie here.