fbpx Field trips: PreK-kindergarten | The Morton Arboretum

Field trips: PreK-kindergarten

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 Pre-K-12
  • Duration: 1.5 hours (Pre-K and Kindergarten programs are 1.25 hours)
  • Morning programs are scheduled Monday-Friday, 9:45 A.M, - 11:00 A.M.
  • Afternoon programs are scheduled Monday-Friday, 11:45 A.M. - 1:00 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 not available in Spring 2021)
  • Two guided adventures (3.0 hours): $12 per student, $30 registration fee (Full-day programs 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/teachers for every 10 students). 
  • There is a minimum of 10 students for guided and self guided field trips. 
  • Payment is due three 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.


Fees include admission to the Arboretum for:

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

Course description


Guided Programs


Trees In A Nutshell

Students ages 4-5

Hours: 1.25 | Maximum students: 50 

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 Next Generation Science Standards and Illinois Early Learning & Development Standards:

  • K-ESS3-1: Interdependence among plants, animals, and their environment. 
  • K-LS1-1: Survival
  • 12.A.ECa: Observe, investigate, describe, and categorize
  • 12.B.ECa: Needs of living things


Teacher resources:  
PDF iconTrees in a Nutshell - vocabulary



Sensing Nature

Students ages 4-5

Hours: 1.25 | Maximum students: 50

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 Next Generation Science Standards and Illinois Early Learning & Development Standards:

  • K-LS1-1: Survival
  • 9.A.ECa & 9.A.ECb: Shapes
  • 12.A.ECa: Observe, investigate, describe, and categorize living things
  • 23.A.ECa: Senses (body parts & functions)

Teacher resources:

PDF iconSensing Nature - vocabulary


Leave No Child Inside

Students ages 4-5

Hours: 1.25 | Maximum students: 50 

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 Next Generation Science Standards or Illinois Early Learning & Development Standards.

Teacher resources:

PDF iconLeave no Child Inside - vocabulary


Self-guided Programs


Children's Garden

Maximum: 75 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 10 students. (Backpacks are limited for groups of 200 or less). 

Potential to address the following Illinois Learning Standards:

  • 11A - Observation and Scientific Questions

  • 12A - Characteristics of Living Things

  • Potential to address the following Next Generation Science Standards:

  • K-2-ETS1-1: Ask questions, make observations and gather information about a situation people want to change or defina simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool. 

  • K-LS1-1: Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive. 

  • 1-LS1-1: Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow and meet their needs. 

  • 2-LS2-1: Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow.

  • 2-LS2-2: Develop a simple model that mimics the functions of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants. 

  • 2-LS4-1: Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats. 



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.


Woodlands, Wetlands, and Prairies

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:


Observations of a leaf

PDF iconObserve and Sketch

PDF iconSensory Investigation

PDF iconThe Living and the Non-Living Treasure Hike