Grade Levels: K-5

Speaking and Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration

An athletic girl forms a relationship with a magical oak tree in her backyard

Amalia’s Story Seed was inspired by a real experience: the time she broke her arm. She wanted to create a character who dealt with the same challenges.

After You Listen

  • Imagine Your Story
  • Nonfiction
  • Experiment with Leaves
  • Nature Journaling
  • Go on a Literary Safari
  • Get Published!

Activity: Mine Your Memories
List important moments and memories from your life in the box. Choose one that’s affected you most. Record all the details you can remember here. Why does this memory stand out to you? How did you change or grow from it?

What Next?
Write a fictional scene that includes details from your memory.

Activity: Tracey Baptiste’s Story
Tip: Add a dash of magical realism to your stories. Magical realism is a genre that weaves surreal elements into ordinary situations.

  • Choose a Realistic setting
    [ ] School cafeteria
    [ ] Town pool
    [ ] Convenience store
    [ ] Friend’s house
    [ ] Drive-in movie
    [ ] Other:_______

  • Name an object from this setting
    Ex. School cafeteria-soup ladle

  • Give this object magical or unusual qualities
    Ex. School cafeteria-soup ladle- hiccups when in use

Use your notes to write a magically realistic story. How would the characters react to the unusual object?

Activity: Nonfiction - The Chatter of the Wood Wide Web
In your mind’s eye, picture a place filled with trees. Maybe you see a backyard or a park or forest. Doesn’t it seem like all the chatter is at the top of the trees? You know, the waving branches, rustling leaves, birds perching high, and critters scampering about.

Well, deep in the ground underneath them, a whole other conversation is taking place. Yes, trees are talking to each other. Not in words or sounds, of course. They are com- municating through an intricate social network. Scientists have nicknamed it: the Wood Wide Web.

The Wood Wide Web is made up of mycorrhizal fungi. Under a microscope, this fungi looks like tiny, white tubes. The ends of all these “tubes” hook up to the roots of different trees in a given area. The trees and fungi trade resources through them. Fungi draws sugar molecules from the trees. In exchange, the fungi gives trees nutrients from the soil. Incredibly, this fungal internet allows trees to help each other. Through it, trees can send messages and help each other survive. Older, stronger trees have a way to send their extra resources to younger, more vulnerable trees. Dying trees have the ability to give carbon and other nutrients to surrounding trees. And get this, the Wood Wide Web helps trees warn each other of impending doom. Say one tree is under attack by harmful beetles. The injured tree “cries out” by releasing chemicals. Then other trees receive an “alert” after it travels through the network. In response, the receiving trees will release other chemicals that make them taste bad to invaders. Thanks to the Wood Wide Web, trees are stronger and better together.

Your Turn
Write a string of text messages between a group of trees in your backyard or nearby park.

Group Activity: Experiment with Leaves
There is a chemical called chlorophyll inside leaves. It is what makes them green. It helps plants create their own food through photosynthesis. Leaves actually contain more colors, such as yellow, brown, and red, but we don’t see them because of the chlorophyll content. Let’s do an experiment to find the hidden colors inside leaves!

What You’ll Need:

  • Leaves from two trees that loses their leaves in winter
  • Two cups, glasses, or jars
  • Fork
  • Plastic wrap or foil
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Pan
  • Coffee filter or paper towel


  1. Grab about five leaves from each tree. Tear leaves into several pieces and put in containers. Use a fork to mash up leaves a little more.
  2. Add just enough rubbing alcohol to cover the leaves. Cover containers so alcohol doesn’t evaporate.
  3. Place the containers in a pan of hot tap water. Wait for about 30 minutes. The alcohol will turn green as it absorbs leaf pigments.
  4. Cut strips from the filter or paper towel. Place one end in each container. You want the liquid to slowly travel up the paper.
  5. After about 30 to 90 minutes, you will be able to see the green color break up into several colors. You’ll see various shades of green and perhaps red and yellow too.
  6. What colors do you see? Compare the different pigments in each type of leaf.

Reflection: Nature Journaling
On Episode 7, author Tracey Baptiste talks about her writing process. She observed the trees in her own backyard to help her add authentic details to the story “Joy’s Challenges.” Grab this page and go outside to observe nature. Make sure to bring your writing and drawing tools. Sketch wildlife and natural objects. Jot down notes about what kinds of birds you see. You can always add these details to your next story.

Lesson Attachment: Story Seeds Imagination Lab - Episode 7

External Link: Story Seeds Imagination Lab