Palermo (Italy). On 21 November 2023, the classes of Maria Ausiliatrice Institute of Palermo, of Mother Maddalena Morano Sicula Province (ISI), from Kindergarten to Primary grades, celebrated the National Day of Trees.
Established by the Ministry of the Environment and Protection of the Territory and the Sea in 2023, the Day aims to promote the protection of the environment and the reduction of pollution, enhancing the arboreal heritage and recalling the fundamental role played by woods and forests.
The classes of the Maria Ausiliatrice Institute, from kindergarten to primary school, spent time in the garden to discover the green world, in the certainty of the importance of starting from children to educate to take care of the environment.
The children of the Kindergarten understood metaphorically care for the ‘young tree’, covering it with scarves to protect it from the cold and singing a song to stimulate its flowering. Another class concretized it by planting a tree to enrich the vegetation in the garden.
The first grade children of the Primary school went instead to the discovery of the vegetation of the school garden where different species can be found, from orange trees to olive trees. Through the use of the five senses, the children discovered the scent of lavender and rosemary and caressed the bark of the tree, feeling its furrows and its roughness. They also met the ‘Christmas star’, a plant typical of the Christmas period. “We must have respect for nature because trees are like us, they need care”, the children internalize this as they discover that “studying in contact with nature is a lot of fun and you learn many things.” The activity ends with drawing a tree with watercolors.
A different experience for the second grade children who, instead, studied the knowledge of the life of the trees through an experiment that consists in the observation of two seedlings, one with yellow flowers and one with pink flowers. The first was placed in a closet in the dark and without air. “After a week, we saw that the seedling with yellow flowers was dry and to help it, we watered it. We understood that plants need water and light to survive,” commented a little girl.
The activity continued in the garden where, together with Sister Maria Lucia Siragusa, Director of the School and animator of Laudato Si’, and with the teacher, they learned the language of nature. Pruning, fertilizer, dry leaves, humus intrigued the students who participated with great enthusiasm and curiosity in the activity in the garden.
“People who are able to caress plants are able to caress people”, said Sister Maria Lucia to the children, inviting them to reflect on care but especially love for the environment, starting from the words of Pope Francis. “Light represents love and like plants, we too cannot stay away from the people who love us,” he explained, taking up the experiment again. He then stressed the link between the environment and human beings. “As the environment needs us to grow, we also need the environment to live.”
The National Day of Trees is an opportunity to understand the importance of nature and the environment and to prepare the young people of tomorrow to have respect and care, enhancing the important role that woods and forests have in the preservation of the world and of all living species, including human beings.