The Giving Tree promotes discussions on wants versus needs. Read on to find The Giving Tree activities and comprehension questions to promote appreciating what you already have.
In The Giving Tree, the titular character loves a boy and gives him everything he wants. The book gives you the opportunity to discuss:
- Appreciating what you already have
- Needs versus wants
- Supporting someone’s well-being at a cost to ourselves (altruism)
- Giving, expecting nothing in return
- Taking things doesn’t always bring happiness
- Feeling good when helping others
- Forgiveness and friendships
You can also use the book to teach:
- Theme & Main Idea
- Character Traits
Scroll down for The Giving Tree activities, discussion questions and videos.
The Giving Tree Activities and Resources
“Once there was a tree… and she loved a little boy.” A tree and a young boy have a special relationship, and they love each other. The boy climbs her trunk, eats her apples and sits in her shade. The boy visits the tree every day, making the tree very happy.
As the boy grows up, he visits the tree less often. He only visits when he wants something from the tree. The tree gives the boy her apples to sell when he needs money. She lets him cut off her branches to build a house. He wants more but never seems happy.
The boy tells the tree he wants to sail far away, so she lets him chop down her trunk to make a boat. The boy returned to the tree as an old man, but she had nothing left to give; she was only a stump. She offers this a place for him to rest, and when he sits down, the tree is happy.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Illustrator: Shel Silverstein
Publisher: Particular Books (2010)
Take a look inside The Giving Tree
- Just a Dream by Chris Van Allsburg
- Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
- Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
- What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. Mckissack
- 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy
- The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
The Giving Tree Story Activities and Resources
I have created literacy graphic organizers for The Giving Tree. You can find them at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. There are many activities for each literacy area to differentiate depending on your student’s ability/age. They include activities for:
- Author’s Purpose
- Cause & Effect
- Character Traits and Analysis
- Comprehension Questions and Writing Prompts
- Inferring and Predicting
- Main Idea and Theme
- Making Connections
- Point of View
- Problem and Solution
- Retelling, Sequencing and Summarizing
*Click on these links to discover book recommendations on these topics.
The Giving Tree Activities and Links
- HarperCollins: The Giving Tree Activity Booklet
- HarperCollins: The Giving Tree Writing Activities and Discussion Prompts
- Prindle Institute: Questions for Philosophical Discussion
- Reading is Fundamental: Teaching Support Materials
- Shel Silverstein Website: Lessons and Activities
- Shel Silverstein Website: Videos
- Shel Silverstein Website: 50 years of the Giving Tree teaching ideas
- Teaching Children Philosophy: Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion
- Topher Payne: a parody alternate ending for Shel Silverstein's “The Giving Tree
FREE The Giving Tree Activities
Would you like free graphic organisers for The Giving Tree?
I have a freebie that is part of a larger resource so you can try it out in your classroom today!
Fill out the form below for the FREE activities to be sent to your inbox.
Click on the image to the left to see the full resource on Teachers Pay Teachers.
The Giving Tree Read-Aloud Questions
Read-aloud sessions are a wonderful way for children to understand the connection between written text and spoken language. You can model reading habits, strategies, fluency, tone, and eye contact. You can also introduce different genres, authors and illustrators.
- What do you think Shel Silverstein wants us to learn from reading The Giving Tree? What did you learn from reading The Giving Tree?
- How did the illustrations help you understand the emotions in The Giving Tree?
- How did the boy treat the tree? What could he have done differently?
- Do you think the boy was selfish to accept everything the tree offered? Why or why not?
- Did the boy show appreciation and gratitude for what the tree did? Why or why not?
- Why do you think the tree was so giving towards the boy?
- How do the boy’s feelings towards the tree change?
- How do the tree’s feelings towards the boy change?
- What problems did the tree solve for the boy?
- What could the tree have done differently? Did she have to give all of herself away?
You can find a full set of discussion cards in The Giving Tree Activity Bundle or as a separate pack.
The Giving Tree Video
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