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The Giving Tree: Mini Unit

The following article contains activities which may be used with The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The book was originally published in 1964 but is still popular today.

Book Summary

An apple tree is very happy when a boy eats its apples, swings on its branches, and climbs its trunk. It is sad and lonely when the boy doesn’t pay any attention to it. Giving makes the tree very happy.

About the Author:

Shel Silverstein was born in 1932. Both children and adults enjoy his books. Mr. Silverstein has used his creativity in many areas and has worked as a poet, cartoonist, composer, lyricist, and singer. Another, less known, piece of work by Mr. Silverstein is “A Boy Named Sue”. This song was recorded by the famous country singer Johnny Cash.

1. Draw two trees with branches. On the branches of one tree write down all the things that the tree can give. On the branches of the other tree, write down all the things that others can do for the tree.

2. In the book the tree gives the boy apples. As a collateral activity, you could study apples or Johnny appleseed.

3. Make homemade applesauce.

4. Another collateral topic to cover might be tree conservation. Using the story as an example, you could brainstorm ideas for why we need trees.

5. Discussion question: Why is the tree lonely when the boy grows up?

6. Discussion question: Why could the boy do for the tree?

7. Discussion question: Do you think the boy is selfish? Explain your answer.

8. Discussion question: How do you think the tree would fee of the boy didn’t tak all it offered?

9. Discuss the difference between fiction and non-fiction. What parts of the story could be true (non-fiction) and what parts of the story are not (fiction)?

10. Discussion question: How do you feel when you give something to someone? How do you feel when you receive something?

Suggested Vocabulary/Spelling Words:


Other Books by Shel Silverstein

Where the Sidewalk Ends

A Light in the Attic

Falling Up

The Missing Piece

Lafcadio : The Lion Who Shot Back

Giraffe and a Half

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O

Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros?


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