fbpx Field trips: 4th-5th grade | The Morton Arboretum

Field trips: 4th-5th grade

Schedule and location


Spring Field trips run from April 5th - June 11th

Winter Self-Guided Field Trips run from November 13th - March 29th.

Please note that this season, due to new safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot book full-day field trips, host schools for a lunch location, or offer lab programs with guided field trips. Please read our PDF iconProgram Adjustments in order to see how we are keeping you safe on your field trip.


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, 9:45 A.M. - 11:15 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 


Fees and registration

Field trip fees:

  • One guided adventure (1.5 hours): $8 per student, $15 registration fee
  • One guided adventure (3.0 hours): $12 per student, $30 registration fee (Full-day programs are not available in Spring 2021)
  • Two guided adventures (3.0 hours): $12 per student, $30 registration fee (Full-day programs are not available in Spring 2021)
  • One guided adventure (1.5 hours) + Self-guided adventure: $12 per student, $30 registration fee (Full-day programs are not available in Spring 2021)
  • Self-guided adventure: $6 per student, $15 registration fee


Registration Details:

  • 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 10 students.
  • There is a minimum of 10 students for guided and self guided field trips. 
  • Payment is due 3 weeks before the date of the field trip.
  • Call the registrar at (630) 719-2468, Monday-Friday, 9:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.


Fees include admission to the Arboretum for:

  • All registered and attending students
  • All registered and attending adult/teacher chaperones (two adults for every 10 students)
  • State required aides


*Once you have registered- Plan your Trip


Course description

Make outdoor science fun and engaging on a field trip through The Morton Arboretum. Guided and self-guided programs listed are for grades 4th and 5th and are designed for student’s age nine and up.  Details concerning fees and other information are listed below. 



Guided Programs


Cycles and Solutions

1.5 hours | 50 students maximum
Nature has a remarkable ability to renew itself through oxygen, water, and soil cycles. Discover the role that trees play in nature’s regeneration. Examine the forms of energy that drive these cycles. Students will discover how these unique cycles exist within each of Illinois's diverse ecosystems. This is a half day program, but can booked as a full day option when paired with either the Woodland Ecosystem or the Botany Lab.

This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

  • 4-PS3-2: Transfer of energy
  • 4-LS1-1: Adaptations & survival
  • 5-LS1-2: Plant needs for growth

Teacher resources:

PDF iconCycles Solutions Vocabulary
PDF iconCycles and Solutions Vocabulary word search
PDF iconCycles and Solutions Vocabulary short answers
PDF iconCycles and Solutions Vocabulary Game.pdf


Energized Ecosystems

1.5 hours | 50 students maximum

Trace the flow of matter and energy through The Morton Arboretum's ecosystems. Explore the processes that allow nature to recycle and renew itself. Uncover the the connections that lie between organisms and the energy in their environment. Students will examine the structures and processes that plants and animals use to make or obtain energy. This is a half day program, but can be booked as a full day option when paired with the Botany Lab.

This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

  • 4PS3-2: Transfer of energy
  • 4-LS1-1: Plant and animal structures that support survival, growth, behavior and reproduction.
  • 5-LS1-1: Plants needs for growth
  • 5-ESS2-1: Interactions among geo, bio and hydro spheres.

Teacher Resources:

FileEnergyized Ecosystem Vocabulary List.docx

Vocabulary Powerpoint- Review Terms with your students!

PDF iconEnergized Ecosystems Vocabulary List_Spanish.pdf



Woodland Ecosystem Study

1.5 hours | 50  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.

This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards:

  • 4LS1-1: Adaptations & survival
  • 5-LS1-1: Plants needs for growth

Teacher resources:

PDF iconWoodland Ecosystem Study 4-5 Vocabulary Definitions

PDF iconWoodland Vocabulary Game.pdf



Leave No Child Inside

1.5 hours | 50 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:
PDF iconLeave No Child Inside Vocabulary 4th-5th
PDF iconLeave No Child Inside Vocabulary Crossword 4th-5th


Prairie Ecosystem Study - FALL ONLY

1.5 hours | 180 students maximum

Explore The Morton Arboretum's Schulenberg Prairie as you participate in hands-on activities. Students will discover the unique history of the early Illinois settlers as they examine the unique biodiversity of this ecosystem. Students explore the abiotics of the prairie and connect them to the adaptations of the plants and animals living here. For a full day experience, add the Botany Lab or Prairie Lab to this program.

Teacher resources:

Prairie Program Vocabulary List

Prairie Program Vocabulary Game

Prairie Program Post Activity

This program emphaiszes the following Next Generation Science Standards & Illinois Learning Standards (social studies):

  • 4LS1-1: Plant adaptations & survival
  • 5LS1-1: Transfer of energy
  • 12D-2b: Westward movement
  • 12E-2a: Early settlers




Self-guided Programs


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.

Teacher resources:

FileVanishing Acts Grades 3-5.docx


Joy Path Self-guided

Maximum: 75 students
Use an interpreted trail, teacher guide, activity backpack, and map to explore woodlands and aquatic ecosystems. Each pack serves 20 students and three 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

PDF iconJoyPathInfo-website.pdf


Habitat Hike Self-Guided

Maximum: 75 students

Explore three different habitats and how plants and animals are adapted to their environment using a teacher guide and activity backpack on an interpreted trail. Each pack serves 20 students and three chaperones.

These activities are aligned to the following Next Generation Science Standards:

  • 2-LS2-2: Animals assist with pollination and seed dispersal

  • 2-LS4-1: Diversity of life in different habitats

  • 3-LS4-4: When the environment changes, plants and animals change

  • 3.LS4-3: Organisms in a habitat can survive, others cannot

  • 5-LS2-1: Energy flow-foodwebs

  • Teacher Resources:

  • PDF iconHabitat Hike Website Teacher Guide.pdf


Woodland, Wetland, and Prairie

Maximum: 75 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:

PDF iconABC Hike
PDF iconObservations of a leaf
PDF iconObserve and Sketch
PDF iconSensory Investigation
The Living and The Non-Living Treasure Hike  
PDF iconWetland Treasure Hunt



4th Grade
5th Grade