The woods are never solitary: they are full of whispering, beckoning, friendly life – LM Montgomery
I never get tired of listening to wooden claves being tapped together. Such a simple, ancient sound, reminiscent of the earliest music. Early men and women creating instruments from wood, bone, reed and animal skin – stone as well, probably – all the elements of a prehistoric landscape.
This term, in most of the early years settings I teach in, we’re thinking about trees and wooden sounds.
We’ve sung songs about trees: Five Little Leaves; Roots, Trunks, Branches, Leaves (to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes; If You’re Ever in the Forest (to the tune of Did You Ever See a Lassie?) and more.
I’ve also brought in bamboo sticks from my garden and some nurseries have decorated these with coloured tape to make homemade claves. Others have collected their own sticks and drawn on them with crayon. We’ve tapped these together, on tables and benches, on trees and on the ground.
In the forest school I work in, the children have loved standing on logs in a circle and making themselves into trees.
They’ve stretched their sticks out to make branches; tapped them in front of themselves and over their heads; rested them against their cheeks to represent young trees and pointed them downwards while making gnarled faces to represent old trees (they love this bit!).
They’ve blown the wind with their mouths and swayed from side to side while tapping and rubbing their sticks randomly like trees in a storm.
We’ve also shaken leaves and listened to the rustling sound they make; made clicking sounds with our tongues to represent a single leaf falling to the ground.
As Autumn rolls on and the trees begin to lose their leaves, we’ll see more and more bare branches and twigs, hear more and more the rattle and crack of wood on wood. We’ll be able to make piles of leaves and jump in them, throw them in the air, kick them around and shriek with pleasure.
Wood and leaf, wind and voice. Ancient sounds. Tree music.