Learning by Playing it Forward 1: Learning about Trees

By Ananth Raghunandan

Learning by Playing it Forward 1: Learning about Trees

Learning by playing it forward means sharing our explorations with others. Recently, I started my Youtube channel, Ananth’s Adventures to share what I am learning and to give ideas to parents, teachers, and neurodivergent learners on different tools and techniques for learning. The SpecialSaathi blog is another way I play it forward. Thanks to Shilpi mam for encouraging me to blog.

In this blog post, I want to share my project on trees. I have shared two videos on my Youtube
channel. I hope you enjoy the videos and use them to teach your child about trees!

The Tree Song Video

Exploring Trees with Thinkblocks Video

LIFESMART Project Planner

Since I have started creating resources regularly, I have also started using the LIFESMART
planner to organize my projects.

The Planner is organized into four sections:
I: Lesson/ Project Goals and Activities
III: Narration Tools and Techniques
IV. Progress and Next Steps

A key feature of the planner is that the LIFESMART elements are used to organize outcomes for the project. The four LIFE components (L: Learning daily, I: Interests, F: Family interactions, E: Engagement with Community) are consistently used to think about the outcomes of every lesson.
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-framed) goals are written to address these LIFE goals. Finally, the longer-term impact of projects on the Six Cs (Connections, Conversations, Clarity, Choice, Competence, Coordination).

Trees Project Plan and Progress

1. What is the goal of the lesson/project?
To teach how a tiny seed becomes a big tree with many parts such as the roots, trunk, branches,
leavers etc. The goal is to wonder about the miracle of the tree adnd to appreciate what trees give
us. Thanks to my friend Kabir Vernal for a beautiful painting of a child looking at a tree.

2. Describe the activities in the lesson/project.
– Learn the tree song dance and create a video
– Create a video on the use of Thinkblocks to describe trees.

3. List the roles of people involved in the lesson/project.
Tree song lesson is by Sri Ujwal Jagadeesh, Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD)
Facilitator and Faculty/Artiste
Trees using Thinkblocks created with Dr. Dasaratha Rama

4. How does the lesson/project address the four LIFE goals:

L: Learning daily
Narration (retelling or communicating what we have learned) is an important tool for
learning. I have used movement and visual tools such as Thinkblocks since 2007. Both
types of tools increase learning and are fun to use. Now, I have more opportunities to
practice narration daily as I create videos for the LIFESMART community.
I: Interests
I am very interested in dance and music. So learning and teaching with movement and
music is more fun than just reading books. I also found Thinkblocks more fun than just
reading from a book.
F: Family interactions
I enjoy doing the tree song and other dances with my nephew. My nephew is one and a
half years old. He does not understand the whole song. But he loves it when I jump
around and even tries to copy some movements. When I was young, I used to learn with
movement and visual tools with my mother.
E: Engagement with Community

I have fun learning these songs for my nephew from my teacher. Now I can also share it
with the LIFESMART community. My mother and I are also creating video lessons on
Thinkblocks and other tools.

5. Write SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-framed) goals for the

Recording the Tree Song
S: Specific: Record the tree song with my teacher
M: Measurable: Post a video of the song on Youtube
A: Attainable: The project was easily attainable because I have to learn enough to imitate but do
not need to perfect it like a dance for a performance.
R: Relevant: This project was relevant to goal of enjoying my time with my nephew
T: Time-framed: I had to finish the project before leaving for London.

Recording the Thinkblocks Video
S: Specific: Describe the parts of the tree, relationship between trees and people, and the miracle
of the tree growing from a tiny seed using Thinkblocks.
M: Measurable: Post a 3-5 minute video on trees with Thinkblocks on YouTube
A: Attainable: The project was easily attainable because I have used Thinkblocks for many
years. I have also been practicing making short videos for a few months.
R: Relevant: This project was relevant to goal of creating resources for the LIFESMART
T: Time-framed: I had to finish the project before leaving for Bergen because my Thinkblocks are in London.

6. Describe the Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) tools (movement and
dance, music and rhythm, storytelling, drama, arts and crafts) used in the lesson/project.

The tree song uses music and movement to teach the parts of the tree. There is also a story of how seed becomes a tree. We can expand the lesson by telling stories about trees by enacting stories about trees and by drawing or painting trees.
Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) has been developed by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar, Founder/Director of RASA (

7. Describe other tools (e.g., visual mapping tools) used in the lesson/project.
This lesson introduces DSRP (Distinctions, Systems, Relationships, and Perspectives) method and the Thinkblocks tool. According to Dr. Cabrera, DSRP are the four universal patterns of thinking. We have used DSRP and associated tools for many years as a way of structuring information in consistent ways.
DSRP and Thinkblocks are creations of Cabrera Research Lab (

8. How is the process of imitation, repetition, memorization, and improvisation used in the
Imitation: I learned the tree song by imitating the teacher.
Repetition: I repeated it a few times because I was going to do the video with my teacher. When I
do the video myself, I have to repeat many times until I can do the movements well, and until I
can narrate the story well.
Memorization: I did not have to memorize the movements or the song for the video because I
was doing it with my teacher. But as I do it with my nephew, I will memorize it.
Improvise: My mother and I improvise in different ways as we do the song with my nephew.

9. Describe your progress on the lesson/project.
I completed the tree song video and we have tried it with my nephew a few times. We will
explore it when we see him again.
I have completed my Thinkblocks video and shared it on my YouTube channel.

10. How is this lesson/project growing Six Cs?

· Grow Connections: Our connections with the teacher and community are evolving
through the story of the month and other video projects.
· Participate in Conversations: We have regular conversations to plan the story projects.
· We clarify goals and activities for the story of the month project and other video projects
over time.
· Make choices with ease and confidence. I chose the story for the first narration and we
have continued to choose stories and make other choices as we have progressed.
· Evolve knowledge and skills (competence): I am developing multiple skills. One of the
most important skills is listening to and retelling stories or reading and retelling stories.
· Coordinate activities (workflow, routines): We are also collecting and curating resources on Ananth’s Youtube channel. We coordinate the story of the month projects including the development of the Youtube channel.

In this blog post, I shared a lesson about trees and a lesson/project planner. Join the conversation on LIFESMART Parenting group ( for more details.

Author Ananth Raghunandan

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