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Arbor Day in the classroom

Celebrate Arbor Day in your classroom! It’s easy as 1, 2, tree! Arbor Day is a holiday that promotes planting and protecting trees. Illinois celebrates Arbor Day on the last Friday in April. But really, every day is a great day to celebrate trees!

Communities often celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees with school children. Listed below are activities and lesson plans developed by the Arboretum expert educators to help you celebrate the holiday and teach your students about the importance of trees and conservation. These activities can be great enhancements to your curriculum. 


Arbor Day Outreach Programming

*REGISTER NOW for Arbor Day Outreach

*REGISTER NOW to order a Tree Tag Kit. 

Classroom Outreach Opportunities

Tree-Time Activities

  • Audience Size: 25-30 students
  • Age Level: PreK-Elementary (Can be adapted for older students)
  • Length of Presentation: 30 minutes
  • Arboretum educators will bring field microscopes and magnifiers as well as several items for students to view up close under the microscope. Presentations will include a story about trees and their life cycle (intended for early elementary grades only). Educators will also have hands-on opportunities for students to touch and feel tree parts and pelts of animals that rely on trees for their survival.  Educators will leave students with an acorn flip book to assemble.

Tree Tagging

  • Audience Size: 25-30 students
  • Length of Presentation: 30-40 minutes
  • Age Level: Upper Elementary to Middle (Can be adapted to younger grade levels).  Ideal for Eco-Clubs and STEM groups.
  • Arboretum educators will come to your school to help your students tag one or more trees in your school yard using an Arboretum Tree Tag Kit. Tree Tag Kits are designed to promote understanding and value of trees by highlighting the benefits of individual trees. With our Arbor Day Tree Tag Kits, a class can calculate the dollar value of the benefits of a particular tree, bringing awareness of how useful trees are in addition to their beauty. This is a great way for students to be involved in new tree plantings within your school yard. Students will work with an educator to identify some of the trees surrounding the school, and measure the DBH (Diameter at Breast Height). Next, the educator will demonstrate the benefits of trees by and help students fill in the Tree Tag (based on tree diameter and species).  Lastly, educators will discuss ways students can continue to celebrate trees year-round, both at their school and at home.

Science, STEM or Open House Events (February, March, and April)                    

  • Audience Size: 100-500 students and/or families
  • Length of presentation: 5-10 minutes, table top format.
  • Age Level: Elementary and groups of all ages.
  • Arboretum Educators will bring a number of table top activities for students and families.  Participants will view seeds, leaves, and bark up close under microscopes, sort leaves of all shapes and sizes, touch and feel pelts and skulls of animals that rely on trees for survival, and create their own tree bark or leaf rubbing.


Community Outreach Opportunities:

Community Event Booth

  • Audience size: open to public
  • Length of Presentation: hours of event and/or incorporate a brief 10-30 minute talk
  • Community Trees staff and volunteers will staff a booth at your community event. Our outreach booth includes information on the urban forest, such as "right tree - right place - right care", invasive pest educational materials and general Arboretum visitor information. Additional event resources available. Learn more


Community Tree Planting Event
Audience size: open to public
Length of Presentation: 30-60 minutes
Community Trees staff and volunteers will assist your group with planting a tree to celebrate Arbor Day or other event.  Representatives can provide education on proper planting techniques and tree care while planting a tree that your group provides.  Site preparation must be completed by event organizers prior to event (please remember to call J.U.L.I.E. at least a week prior to event).  Additional "celebration" ideas and resources are available at The Morton Arboretum Learn more


Tree Tagging Kits

*REGISTER NOW to order a Tree Tag Kit.

Promote understanding and value of trees by highlighting the environmental benefits of individual trees. With our Arbor Day Tree Tag Kits, a class or group can calculate the dollar value of the benefits of a particular tree, bringing awareness of how useful trees are in addition to their beauty.

Depending on the grade level and number of students, this hands-on activity will take approximately 2 to 3 hours and is best done over two days.  Internet access is required. Parts of this activity are best done indoors while other parts require students to be outdoors.

Each kit contains:

  • 11x17 inch weather-resistant tags (made from recycled materials)
  • Lesson plans
  • Arbor Day celebration ideas


Classroom Activities for Arbor Day:

Tree Census Lesson Plans (Middle School Grades 6th-8th)

These lesson plans are based on the science of the Chicago-area Regional Tree Census.

PDF iconTree Census Activities for Middle School

FileTree Census Activities-Student Data Sheets
(Student data sheets are included in the PDF lesson plan, but have also been seperately included as a word document (.doc), so that you can customize them for your individual school site and classroom needs). 

PDF iconTree Identification Resources for Students and Teachers

Plant Trees

  How to Plant A Seedling   

Grades pre-K through 2


Grades 3 through 5


Grades 6 through 8


Grades 9 through 12


More Resources

Arbor Day Foundation's website provides lots of resources to celebrate Arbor Day including:

  • Games and videos for youth and educators
  • A Teacher's Guide to Arbor Month from the Minnesota Arbor Month Partnership