Field trips: 4th-5th grade

Make outdoor science fun and engaging on a field trip at The Morton Arboretum. Guided and self-guided programs listed are designed for 4th and 5th grade students. Details concerning fees and other information is listed below- REGISTER NOW

Guided adventures


Cycles and Solutions

1.5 hours | 180 students maximum
Nature has a remarkable ability to renew itself through oxygen, water, and soil cycles. Discover the role of plants and trees in nature’s regeneration. Investigate factors that impact nature’s cycles and explore solutions for helping nature keep its natural cycles on track. As a classroom follow-up activity, take a tree seedling back to your school to plant, promoting natural renewal.

Teacher resources:
Cycles Solutions Vocabulary
Cycles and Solutions Vocabulary word search
Cycles and Solutions Vocabulary short answers
Cycles and Solutions Vocabulary game

This program emphasizes the following NGSS Standard:

  • 4PS3-2: Transfer of energy

This program emphasizes the following Illinois Learning Standards:
11A-2a: Scientific Questions and Exploring Solutions
12E-2a: Natural Cycles
13B-2f: Human Impact on Ecosystems

Woodland Ecosystem Study

1.5 hours | 180 students maximum
Uncover the inner workings of the woodland. Learn how this seemingly static environment is ever changing. Explore the layers of the forest and discover the interdependence of the plants and animals that live there. Take a closer look at tree parts, investigate the life cycle of a tree from seed to soil and identify some common Illinois trees.  It is recommended that students learn the vocabulary for this program before attending the field trip.

Teacher resources:
Woodland Ecosystem Study 4-5 Vocabulary Definitions
Woodland Crossword 1
Woodland Crossword 2
Woodland Vocabulary Game

This program emphasizes the following NGSS Standard:

  • 5-LS1-1: Plants needs for growth

This program emphasizes the following Illinois Learning Standards:
11A-2a: Scientific Questions
12A-2a: Life Cycles
12B-2a: Food Webs
13B-3e: Conservation

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 4th-5th
Leave No Child Inside Vocabulary Crossword 4th-5th


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

Eco-Comparisons (4th-5th) 

3 hours (1.5 hour coniferous woodland and 1.5 hour deciduous woodland or prairie with lunch in between) | 180 students maximum
Spend a full day in the Arboretum’s woodland and prairie ecosystems comparing and contrasting the plants and animals found in two different ecosystems. Learn to use scientific instruments to measure a variety of abiotic factors (temperature, wind, light) to determine why different plants and animals are found in different ecosystems.  Work as a team to collect and compare observations.

Teacher resources:
Eco Comparison Vocabulary
Eco Comparisons Vocabulary Activity
Eco Comparisons Vocabulary Fill In the Blank

This program emphasizes the following NGSS Standards:

  • 5-LS1-1: Plants needs for growth

    5-ESS2-1: Interactions among geo, bio and hydro spheres. 

This program emphasizes the following Illinois Learning Standards:
11A-2b: Data Collection / Process Skills
12B-2b: Habitats / Adaptations
13B-1a: Scientific Instruments

Botany Lab

3 hours  (1.5 hours in a field program and 1.5 hours in the lab with lunch in between)
Enhance your experience at the Arboretum by combining Cycles and Solutions, Woodland Ecosystem Study, No Child Left Inside, or the Prairie Ecosystem Study with our new Botany Lab.  Students will gain a deeper understanding of plant anatomy through the examination and disection of seeds, flowers, roots and leaves.

This program emphasizes the following NGSS Standard:

  • 4-LS1-1: Plant and animal structures that support survival, growth, behavior and reproduction. 

This program emphasizes the following Illinois Learning Standards:
11A-2b: Data Collection/Process Skills
12A-2a: Life Cycles
12B-2b: Adaptations

Teacher resources:
Botany Lab Vocabulary
Botany Lab Crossword


Self-guided adventures


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
Observations of a leaf
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: 4th-5th gradeREGISTER NOW