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August 2019 - Year 21 - Issue 4

ISSN 1755-9715

A True Golden Classic Exercise: Trees

This is a very gentle exercise to get your students to use language useful to talk about trees, as well as people.  It’s brilliantly simple, requires no photocopying, or preparation of any sort.

It is hard to tell who the father of the exercise is. Here are some voices …


I can't remember if this is Paul's or Mario's, I think Mario's, but please check.

Steps 4-6 are, I believe, mine.

Chaz Pugliese


The first time I saw Mario he did this exercise (late 70's?). Later I wrote it up (for HLT I think) - he had forgotten it. Chaz has changed it a bit.

Paul Davis


 Nice Exercise....wish I could greedily claim it as mine.....but IT IS NOT.

Mario (Rinvolucri)



Step 1: Ask your students to shout out all adjectives they would use to describe trees. Write their contributions on the board.

Step 2: Contribute a few the students are less likely to come up with (e.g. deciduous, gnarled, etc)

Step 3: Ask the students which of these adjectives can be used to describe people as well.

Step 4: Guide the students’ attention to those adjectives that have both a literal and metaphorical meaning (for example: straight, gnarled). Encourage the students to produce a few more.

Step 5: Round up with a few idioms around trees (e.g. money doesn’t grow on trees, barking up the wrong tree, etc).

Step 6: Now ask the students to think of a tree they like or a tree that is meaningful to them (perhaps a tree they can see from their bedroom window, or a tree on their way home etc). Invite them to draw it on a piece of paper and to describe it to a neighbor recycling some of the adjectives brainstormed earlier.


Please check the Creative Methodology for the Classroom course at Pilgrims website

  • A True Golden Classic Exercise: Trees
    Chaz Pugliese, France