In a pre-kindergarten classroom I pull out my book and read the title, Trout are Made of Trees. Most students in other South Bronx pre-k classrooms would be perplexed upon hearing the title to this book, written by April Pulley Sayre. In fact, most students in the Bronx don't know what a trout, or even a stream, is. This is, however, not the case at the South Bronx Headstart Center. That's because these 3- and 4-year-olds are participating in Trout in the Classroom, through a partnership with the Bronx Children's Museum. They are the proud caretakers of 50 beautiful brown trout which they help tend every day. Through TIC they are studying trout biology, stream ecology and watershed geology. And although none of them have actually seen a stream, very soon they will be traveling up to the watershed forests to release their trout into the very streams which in fact provide their drinking water.
Pre-kindergarten TIC students at South Bronx Headstart making trout food chains.
Trout are Made of Trees is a great way to prepare these students for the adventure they will embark on in just a couple of months. This book guides students through a stream food web. It illustrates for young students how the leaves from trees surrounding streams feed the tiny decomposers which then become food for the macroinvertebrates which in turn become food for trout. With simple vocabulary and colorful illustrations it describes the important connection between streams and their surrounding riparian habitats.
Director of The South Bronx Headstart Centers, Ms. Campbell, and their 55 gallon TIC trout tank.
After reading the book, students create their own hanging food chain. Each student starts with an image of the sun, and then chooses a plant, macroinvertebrate, trout and trout predator to color. They arrange the images in an order showing the chain of energy transport and string them together with yarn. The colorful food chains make great hanging decorations and serve as reminders of importance of trout in stream habitats.