Field trips: 2nd-3rd grade

Make outdoor science fun and engaging on a field trip through The Morton Arboretum. Guided and self-guided programs listed are for grades 2nd and 3rd and are designed for student’s age seven and up.  Details concerning fees and other information is listed below.


Fall School Programs run from September 7th through November 13th. Registraion is now open! REGISTER NOW for a Fall Field Trip Program.


*Please Note: Registration for Spring 2016 will open one January 4th 2016. 

Guided adventures

*Guided Programs for Fall 2015 are now listed* Registration for Fall School Programs Opens on Monday August 3rd.


Eco Explorers

1.5 hours | 180 students maximum 
Plants and trees are an important part of the food web in all ecosystems.  In this popular and engaging program, students hunt for producers, consumers and decomposers in three different ecosystems: woodland, aquatic and meadow. Through hands-on activities, students compare the unique characteristics of living things in each ecosystem. For a full day experience, add a lab to this program! 

This program emphasizes the following NGSS Standard:

  • 2-LS4-1: Plants and animals of different habitats

This program emphasizes the following Illinois Learning Standards:

  • 11A-1f: Observation Comparisons
  • 12B-1a: Ecosystems
  • 12B-1b: Interdependence
  • 12B-2a: Food Webs

Teacher resources:

Eco Explorations - vocabulary
Eco Explorers - vocabulary activity
Eco Explorations - vocabulary ;game


Animal Homes

1.5 hours | 180 students maximum 
Trees provide shelter as well as food for animals (even humans!). In return, animals are vital to the life cycle of trees by dispersing seeds, contributing to soil production, and aiding pollination. Through engaging activities, students explore what animals need to survive in their habitat and the interdependence between plants and animals.

This program emphasizes the following NGSS Standard:

  • 2-LS4-1: Plants and animals of different habitats

This program emphasizes the following Illinois Learning Standards:

  • 11A-1b: Scientific Questions
  • 12B-1a: Habitats
  • 12B-1b: Interdependence / Survival

Teacher resources:

Animal Homes - vocabulary
Animal Homes - vocabulary word search
Animal Homes - vocabulary game


Terrific Trees

1.5 hours | 180 students maximum
Every tree is unique! Gain an appreciation for the diversity of trees by comparing their shapes, sizes, leaves, barks and seeds. Discover the unique characteristics of Illinois oaks and other trees. Through hands-on discovery and field notes, discover what all trees have in common and what makes each species different and easy to identify.

This program emphasizes the following NGSS Standards:

  • 2-LS2-2: Seed dispersal and flower pollination by animals.
  • 2-LS2-1: Plants need sunlight and water to grow
  • 3-LS1-1: Diverse life-cycles of plants and animals.

This program emphasizes the following Illinois Learning Standards:

  • 11A-1d: Recording Observations - Field Notes
  • 12A-1a: Component Parts of Living Things
  • 12A-1b: Observable Features of Living Organisms
  • 12A-2a: Simple Life Cycles

Teacher resources:
Terrific Trees - vocabulary
Terrific Trees - crossword puzzle
Terrific Trees - vocabulary game


Leave No Child Inside

1.5 hours | 200 students maximum 
A growing body of research is telling us that unstructured time spent outdoors in nature is critical to children's physical, social, and emotional development. Such outdoor experiences can foster creativity, emotional well-being, independent learning, and problem solving. The beauty of the Arboretum changes daily, and your students will have an opportunity to explore whatever is most interesting on the day of your visit. One of our guides will be on hand to answer questions and guide students to exciting questions and observations, but the focus is on free exploration of nature. 

This program is not meant to address any specific Illinois Learning Standards.

Teacher resources:
Leave no Child Inside - vocabulary
Leave no Child Inside - activity


For questions, please contact the Coordinator of School Programs, Kerry Steele, at 630-725-2118 or at ksteele@mortonarb.org. Morning sessions are typically from 9:30-11am and afternoon sessions are typically from 11:45am-1:15pm.


Eco Explorers Plus Lab

3 hours (1.5 field hours and 1.5 lab hours with lunch in between) 
180 students maximum Enhance your experience at the Arboretum by spending the entire day with us. Students participate in the field Eco Explorers program for half of the day, and use microscopes the other half of the day in the lab to closely examine the adaptations of plants from aquatic, woodland, and meadow ecosystems.

This program emphasizes the following NGSS Standard:

  • 3-LS1-1: Diverse life-cycles of plants and animals.

This lab emphasizes the following additional Illinois Learning Standards:

  • 11A-1c: Scientific Instruments
  • 12A-1a: Component Parts of Living Things
  • 12B-2b: Basic Adaptations

Teacher resources:
Eco Explorations - vocabulary
Eco Explorers - vocabulary activity


Self-guided adventures

Children’s Garden

Maximum: 400 students
The Children's Garden is an enclosed 4-acre garden designed to spark curiosity about trees and the natural world as children play. The Children's garden is a self-guided option for students grades K through 3rd grade only.  Registered school groups grades Pre-K – 3 can also reserve explorer backpacks to enhance their educational experience. Register one pack for every 15 students. A list of materials, how to use them, and pre/post trip suggestions will be sent with trip confirmation.

Potential to address the following IL Learning Standards:

  • 11A - Observation and Scientific Questions
  • 12A - Characteristics of Living Things

Teacher resources:
Children's Garden Backpack - letter

Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat 

Maximum: students
Time is running out for more than 8,000 tree species.  Yet, few people know of their plight.  All over the world forces threaten wild tree species.  Explore this new outdoor exhibit and offer your students a timely and compelling look at endangered trees, reasons to care about this pressing global issue, an inspiring view of how trees enrich our lives and simple actions for environmental stewardship. The exhibit is located in the Conifer Collection on the east side of The Morton Arboretum.

Teacher resources:
Vanishing Acts Exhibit Guide Grades 3-5

Joy Path Self-Guided 

Maximum: 180 students

Use an interpreted trail, teacher guide, activity backpack, and map to explore woodlands and aquatic ecosystems. Each pack serves 15 students and two chaperones.

Potential to address the following IL Learning Standards:

  • 11A - Scientific Inquiry
  • 12A - Life Cycles
  • 12B - Habitats and Food Webs
  • 12E - Natural Cycles
  • 16E - Environmental History

Teacher resources:
Joy Path Pack Information for Self Guided Groups

Woodland, Wetland, Prairie

Maximum: 180 students
Make discoveries on your own while exploring the Arboretum’s woodlands, wetlands, and prairies (no support materials provided). Below are some suggested itineraries that take up to approximately 90 minutes. These options may include interpretive trail signs.

  • East Side: Starting at parking lot #8 walk the “Joined Loops 3 & 4 Trail” to Big Rock Visitor Station. Continue on the "Woodland Trail" to Big Rock. For a longer experience, walk the long way around the “Heritage Trail” back to the Big Rock Visitor’s Station. (Click here to see a map of the Arboretum's east side.)
  • West Side: Starting at the Prairie Visitor Station (parking lot #25) walk the Prairie Trail loop and go to parking lot #30. For a longer experience, walk to the nearby Millennium Oak.

Teacher resources:

ABC Hike
Observe and Sketch
Sensory Investigation
The Living and The Non-Living Treasure Hike
Wetland Treasure Hunt




Field trips can include either or both guided and self-guided adventures. See fees and admission for more details. 

Guided adventures

  • Available during spring and fall school season for grades PreK-12
  • Duration: 1.5 hours (Pre-K and Kindergarten programs are 1.25 hours)
  • Morning programs are scheduled Monday-Friday, 9:30-11:00 a.m.
  • Afternoon programs are scheduled Monday-Friday, 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

Self-guided adventures

  • Available year-round for grades PreK-12
  • Scheduled Monday-Friday during open hours 




Field trip fees:

  • One guided advenure (1.5 hours): $7 per student, $15 registration fee
  • One guided adventure (3.0 hours): $10 per student, $30 registration fee
  • Two guided adventures (3.0 hours): $10 per student, $30 registration fee
  • One guided adventure (1.5 hours) + Self-guided adventure: $10 per student, $30 registration fee
  • Self-guided adventure: $6 per student, $15 registration fee

Fees include admission to the Arboretum for:

  • All registered and attending students
  • All registered and attending adult chaperones (two adults for every 15 students)
  • State required aides

Registration must be completed 3 weeks prior to field trip date

Dates are reserved on a first come, first served basis so early registration is STRONGLY encouraged

Adult chaperones are required, two adults for every 15 students

Payment is due 2 weeks before the date of the field trip

CALL: Call the registrar at 630-719-2468, Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

ONLINE: Fill out the online form for Field trips: 2nd-3rd gradeREGISTER NOW