How PIC will celebrate Earth Day 2021

Preschoolers looking at nature

In celebration of Earth Day 2021, PIC will be welcoming a new tree to our Magic Circle Nature Playground, a beautiful scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) provided to us by TreePhilly.

The size of a preschooler now, our scarlet oak could grow as tall as 100 feet in its lifetime, adding to the lovely tree canopy PIC is lucky to have on its urban campus. If it lives out its full lifespan, the great-great-grandchildren of the children currently attending PIC may one day be jumping in its leaves and relaxing in its shade.

Scarlet oaks provide not only for children at play, but also for wildlife. According to exciting new research from the National Wildlife Federation and the University of Delaware, oaks lead trees from our region in providing food and habitat for native butterflies and moths, supporting 519 different species, each of whom in turn supports birds, reptiles, and small mammals, just for starters. Oaks are keystone species here in the keystone state!

Experts in Early Childhood Education like PIC know that nature-based play is essential to young children's learning and thriving. For example, the saturated, multihued reds on scarlet oak leaves that last deep into autumn and give our tree its name can't be found in a marker or crayon. Among other joys like their humusy scent and crunchy sounds, autumn leaves provide PIC children with a rich and incomparable experience of color.

As a host to squirrels and larger songbirds, our scarlet oak will in time provide PIC children the chance to enjoy seeing wildlife right here in the city. And visiting a new tree over time, watching it change with the seasons, can give young children a way to measure change and time. In less visible ways, our scarlet oak and our other trees are providing for PIC's children too -- cleaning the air and soil, absorbing carbon dioxide, and releasing oxygen.

Some fun books about trees to commemorate this event are the 1957 Caldecott Medal Winner, A Tree Is Nice, for children, and, for adults, the new bestseller The Nature of Oaks: the Rich Ecology of our Most Essential Native Trees by Doug Tallamy.