Field trips: PreK-kindergarten

Make outdoor science fun and engaging on a field trip through The Morton Arboretum. Guided and self-guided programs listed are for grades PreK through Kindergarten and are designed for students age five and up.  Details concerning fees and other information are listed below.


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

*Please Note: Registration for Spring 2016 will open on January 4, 2016. 


Guided adventures


Trees in a Nutshell

Hours: 1.25 | Maximum students: 180 

Nature detectives hit the trail to uncover the life cycle of trees through games, role play, and guided observation. Our discovery includes investigations into seeds, saplings, adult trees, and fallen logs. Connections are made between fallen logs and soil production to bring the amazing cycle full circle.

This program emphasizes the following NGSS Standard:

  • K-ESS3-1: Interdependence among plants, animals, and their environment. 

This program emphasizes the following Illinois Learning Standards:

  • 11A-1a: Observation

  • 12A-1a: Component Parts of Living Things

  • 12A-2a: Simple Life Cycles

Teacher resources:  
Trees in a Nutshell - vocabulary
Trees in a nutshell - vocabulary matching activity
Trees in a nutshell - word search


Sensing Nature

Hours: 1.25 
| Maximum students: 180 

Animals, including humans, use more than their eyes to learn and survive in nature. In this hands-on, noses-on, eyes-on, and ears-on program, students discover how all five senses can be used to explore nature. Discover shapes and textures in nature and the various ways color and scent are used by trees.

This program emphasizes the following Illinois Learning Standards:

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

  • 12E-1b: Seasonal Change

Teacher resources:

Sensing Nature - vocabulary


Leave No Child Inside

Hours: 1.25 
| Maximum students: 200 

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


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 Illinois Learning Standards:

  • 11A - Observation and Scientific Questions

  • 12A - Characteristics of Living Things

Teacher resources:

Childrens Garden Backpack - letter

Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat 

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.

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 Station. 
  • 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:


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 Pre-K-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 adventure (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 two 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.