Creating our own secret trees with an easel starter

Ms. Abby and I spent a little time choosing a few new children’s books to finish out our school year and one of our fun finds was this book titled, “Little Mouse’s Big Secret” by Eric Battut.

This is terrific book with simple illustrations about a mouse who plants a tree but hopes to keep it a secret from all the other animals. The book illustrates the growth of the tree and soon comes the day that that the little mouse can no longer keep his big secret a secret anymore…

As a follow-up to this book, the children completed a new easel starter. As I have mentioned before, an easel starter is like a sentence starter only instead of using words, you add an object to a piece of art paper for the children to complete…

The night before, I used Elmer’s glue to attach sticks onto sheets of art paper for the children to use as their easel starter. The children selected one of the sheets of art paper to complete their own”big secret”…

Each child interpreted the concept of creating a big secret in their own way. Some children chose to paint the stick and add just a few other details while other children spent more time integrating the stick into their overall painting…

By including an easel starter, I am beginning to see a difference in how the children paint at the easel. Without an easel starter there is still a tendency to just explore the paint colors which is interesting to the children and so I still want to make sure that both types of easel painting is available…

But I would also like the children to begin having a vision for their painting and move past just color mixing or exploring the paint and adding an easel starter seems to help with that process…

Once the children’s paintings are dry, we can then go back and share the paintings in our circle time so each child can tell us a story about their big secret…

This easel starter would also go well with the book, “Not a Stick” by Antoinette Portis which we have also read in our class – you can read more about that book by clicking here

Books available on Amazon…

By |2012-04-14T00:11:47+00:00April 14th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Esther April 14, 2012 at 12:19 am - Reply

    Looks like a wonderful book! I have to check out whether our library has a copy of it! I love the idea of creating their own secret tree and the Easel starter, We have to check the Not a stick too!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Esther,
      I love these books and hope you are able to find a copy too!

  2. Cassie April 14, 2012 at 7:06 am - Reply

    I just found this book at the library this week. I think we will be doing that!

  3. School Sparks Renee April 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    I’m going to find that book – looks adorable. Did the children guess what was going to happen as time went on? Renee

  4. [email protected] April 14, 2012 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    Oh, I love the idea of an easel starter. My daughter (two) has no interest in her easel. She loves painting, but we never use the easel. I bet this would help peak her interest.

  5. Shane @ FamilyHour April 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    What an excellent idea! We’ve never put anything on to my son’s easel like that. And he does have a pile of sticks by the door… though, he says those sticks are for his treehouse he wants to build 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 14, 2012 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      Oh, well we can’t use up those treehouse sticks! Too cute!

  6. Linda April 14, 2012 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    What a fantastic idea. I get a bit discouraged when I see beautiful paintings end up as a big pile of preschool grey. I think adding the stick would help a lot.
    Our Tree Named Steve is a great book too. It’s by Alan Zweibel

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 15, 2012 at 12:37 am - Reply

      I will have to check that book out Linda! That is new to me.

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