Inspired by ‘The Giving Tree’

Published 9:50 am Thursday, January 7, 2010

Throughout the year, the children at the Montessori Children’s House of Albert Lea seek to give back to nature.

And despite subzero temperatures this week, they’re not letting that hold them back.

The giving escalated in December, around Christmas, after the children read “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, said Montessori teacher Tammy Estes.

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Many of the children had started talking about getting presents so the teachers made a special focus toward giving back.

They started teaching the children to string Cheerios, popcorn and dried cranberries on yarn and to make pine cone bird feeders. To take advantage of the cold weather, they have also made frozen water rings with dried cranberries that they string with yarn and then hang.

“They’re a really caring group,” Estes said. “They really love to give. They’re always talking about giving to the animals.”

The children also get to practice their fine motor skills by plucking out dried kernels of corn and then taking it outside for the birds.

Throughout the year, they walk over to the Albert Lea Seed House and get seeds, too.

Before Christmas, they decorated one of the trees outside the Montessori Children’s House with some of their creations — pine cones, Cheerios and popcorn to name a few — and by Wednesday almost all of it had been eaten by squirrels, rabbits or other animals.

Estes said she and the other teachers even talked with the children about what would happen to the yarn, pointing out that birds or rabbits could probably use it.

The school has bird feeders throughout the year.

The Montessori Children’s House of Albert Lea can be found at 1424 W. Main St. It can be reached at 373-5204 and found online at

The school was founded in 1993 and has children ages 2 1/2 to 6 years old.