Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children
At the bottom of Auntie Alice’s garden stands a magnificent oak. lt has a hollow in the trunk where the children leave messages for each other sometimes. The boughs are so strong that they can tie ropes from them to swing on. ln the higher reaches there is a nest of owls living in another hollow. The children don’t seem to disturb their daytime sleep!
The oak tree has a very interesting history and this week l thought you would like to hear about it.
The oak tree is not only one of our most famous and best-loved trees but it was also one of the most important in our history.
This is because it is so useful for building houses and ships. Many sturdy, oak ships took explorers to distant lands and helped to map out the globe.
The lower bows of the tree are very often curved which makes them a perfect shape for building the hulls of ships and the roofs of houses. But because they were designed to hold up an enormous weight of leaves they remain strong. The wood was durable too and could even outlast iron. Oaks grow well in cool climates and produce very dense, strong and hard wood.
lt took at least 100 years for an oak to be mature enough to be used in building and about 2,000 trees were needed to build one ship. So in the 17th and 18th centuries hundreds of thousands of oaks were planted to ensure there would always enough trees to use to build ships for the navy.
ln the end a lot of them were not used though, because in the early nineteenth century ships began to be built of metal rather than wood. Steam engines put a lot of strain on wooden hulls.
The English oak has also been used for making wall panelling (covering), furniture and barrels to keep food and drink fresh. Whisky tastes of the oak barrels it is stored in.
The oak was important to ancient people too. ln Pagan mythology the Oak King ruled the light and, therefore, the summer and the Holly King ruled the darkness and the winter.
Famously King Charles ll hid in the branches of an oak tree when he was fleeing from Parliamentarian (Roundhead) soldiers in 1651 after the Battle of Worcester. Royal Oak Day or Oak Apple Day commemorates the Restoration of the Monarchy (this means the time when the king came back to the throne) and is on 29th May every year.
The daughter of this actual tree can still be seen in the parklands around Boscobel House.
There is a beautiful mediaeval oak wood in the grounds of Blenheim Palace where many of the trees are over seven hundred years old.
The English oak is probably the oak tree that you would most recognise, but there are many others with names like Turkey oak, Basket oak, Red oak, White oak to name but a few, and some of the oaks are evergreen so they remain green all winter. These oaks are called Holm oaks – Holm is an old word for holly. This oak is also known as the Mediterranean oak.
The two British natives are correctly called the Common oak and the Sessile oak.
lt is said that the oak tree harbours more wildlife than any other kind of tree so it is not just important to humans. Many insects, birds and small mammals live in oaks and feed from them. Trees that are good at attracting wildlife can support up to 250 species of wildlife – they can be like a nature tower block!
The seed of an oak is called an acorn. These seeds are poisonous to humans, cows, horses, sheep and goats but can be eaten by squirrels, jays and pigs.
‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ is a saying that means that small projects can grow into large ones. And mighty oak trees do grow from little acorns.
ln most years, oaks will produce just a few acorns. They want the local animal population to get used to eating other things besides their tasty fruit. The animals learn to rely on other food sources and then occasionally the oak tree will produce a bumper crop – far too many to be consumed by the squirrels and jays that live nearby. ln this way some acorns will be left to grow into new trees.
Sometimes a wasp called a gall wasp will lay an egg in a leaf bud and it will develop into what we call an oak apple. These oak galls were ground down and used as a main ingredient to make ink for hundreds of years – since Roman times. The Works of William Shakespeare would have been written in this kind of iron gall ink – so that is another reason why oaks have been so important.
The oak galls were ground up with iron sulphate and gum Arabic to make an ink that would not fade over time. lt was the most important type of ink in Western history for over 1,000 years.
So there isn’t a good crop of acorns every year, but if you can find some, they do grow quite easily if you want to plant some.
ln order to test your seed to see if it will grow, drop it in a bucket of water. lf it sinks, it will be alright to plant. lf it floats, it probably won’t sprout, so don’t plant it.
lt will take three hundred years for your little seed to grow into a full-grown tree.
lf you want to plant your tree outside, make sure it has plenty of room to grow because it might be around for the next 1,000 years!
The Bowthorpe Oak in Manthorpe near Bourne is thought to be over 1,000 years old and the Seven Sisters Oak in Mandeville, Louisiana is thought to be about 1,500 years old!
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And see you again next Fun Friday!
Love and kisses
Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Week
Bill: How do you get an elephant up an oak tree?
Bob: l don’t know. How do you get an elephant up an oak tree?
Bill: Sit him on an acorn and wait fifty years!
Salty Sam © Christina Sinclair 2015
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.
Links may be used to www.christina-sinclair.com
An oak tree
Acorns growing in the summer
Oak bark is very craggy
An oak gall
A cruck frame makes a very strong structure
so that quite large buildings could be constructed during the Mediaeval Era
Oak barrels to store wine or beer or ale
The Royal Oak that sheltered Charles II (daughter of)
The Seven Sisters Oak
Jays often plant oak trees when they cache (store) acorns in the soil
Oak has been used for building houses since Roman times
A Tudor cantilevered house – the upper storeys were larger than the lower ones
A mediaeval oak retaining wall from the River Thames –
these walls had to be replaced every 30 years or so as they rotted away because of being soaked in water
Wood can be used for inside features
In the 16th and 17th century rooms were lined with oak panels
The panels could be decorative
Although many panels look dark today, when they were new they were a golden colour
Even large barrels can be moved around relatively easily by rolling them
Barrels would be sealed with a plug of wood or a spigot which is a small tap
Oak furniture is solid and long-lasting
It has been popular through the ages
A carved oak arm chair from about 1620
A 17th century chair belonging to a middle class household
A Holm oak is evergreen
A deciduous oak tree in the autumn
THE SALTY SAM NEWS DESK
Boutique bags are usually box-like and quite strong and can be quite useful for storing all sorts of things like balls of yarn and accessories.
It is a good way of re-using paper products.
If you 12” doll goes shopping for clothes quite frequently, she may come home with nice boutique bags.
Auntie Alice has made this smart boutique bag for Emily’s doll. If you would like to make one, the pattern is here.
A 12” DOLL BOUTIQUE BAG
- Cut a paper pattern first to pin onto some felt.
- You will need 2 pieces of felt 7cm/3 inches by 5cm/2 inches.
- And 1 piece of felt 17cm/7inches by 3cm/1¼ inches.
- Cut 2 pieces of ribbon 10cm/4inches to make handle that look like plastic or 2 lengths of yarn with chain stitches crocheted which will look like cord.
(If you want to make a shoulder bag instead, the straps will have to be longer and you could sew a snap fastener into the centre of the top edge of the bag to close it.)
- Embroider a motif on one side panel.
- Position the long edge of the centre panel along the side of one of the side panels, wrong sides together.
- Over-sew together using small stitches in a matching coloured thread.
- Do the same with the other side panel.
- Attach the handles to the top of the bag.
lf you have got a tree planting scheme planned, let me know and maybe other readers in your area would like to come along and help.
“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
TO ADVERTISE ON THIS BLOG
Can you un-jumble the following tree words?
- gsat ronh koa
BLOW MY FOGHORN!!!
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lt’s the Weekend!
HOW TO MAKE AN OWL GAME
This game is for two players.
Draw an owl and draw a four by four grid on its chest.
Use plastic bottle tops of two different colours – each person has their own colour to place in a square when you get a question right.
Or you could use different types of shells.
Make a pile of cards with letters of the alphabet on them (one letter on each card) but don’t use the letters q, x and z.
- Play the game like noughts and crosses (you might know this game as tic-tac-toe).
- Choose a topic.
- Shuffle the cards.
- Each person takes a card from the top of the pile and has to say a word from the chosen category starting with the letter they have picked – within a time limit.
- If they can think of a word correctly, they can place a bottle top on the grid.
- The first person to get four tops in a row wins the game.
Examples of Topics:
Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use and for use in classrooms only.
It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.
Use of the toys and projects is at your own risk.
©Christina Sinclair Designs 2015
Quick Quiz Answers
- nigldsee – seedling
- ginlpsa – sapling
- gsat ronh koa – stag horn oak
- rete – tree
- ealf – leaf
- hrabcn – branch
- wtgi – twig
- otro – root
- udb – bud
- olsbmos – blossom
- abkr – bark
A stag horn oak has bare branches above its leaf canopy which look like a stag’s antlers
(A stag is a male deer)
If you visit an aboretum, you can see many different kinds of oaks on display
(The plant labels are usually black because they blend into a natural landscape better than white ones)
Quercus is the Latin name for oak
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