Arbor Day for Educators
Arbor Day presents an annual opportunity for communities to reach across barriers of age, income, geography, culture, and politics to learn about the benefits of trees and to work at improving the tree population. Teachers and students have always been important to Arbor Day. In fact, if you polled people on the street about their thoughts of Arbor Day, most will probably recall their fun school yard moments of planting trees. With these resources, your students will be able to go home and teach their families about the value of healthy trees. Tree seedlings for Arbor Day projects are available for a nominal cost from several state forestry agencies.
Many states observe Arbor Day on different dates according to their best tree-planting times. Visit the National Arbor Day Foundation site to find out when your state or territory observes Arbor Day.
Arbor Day Celebration Ideas
- Take your class on a tree identification hike around campus or within your community.
- Plant trees on the school campus.
- Do a web search for the benefits of trees and create a list with pictures.
- Have a contest for students to find the oldest trees in the community and research the history of the tree. For example, when the tree was 10 years old, what was going on in your community, the nation, and/ or the world.
- Have an essay contest where students describe the importance of trees to their community.
- Dedicate library time for students to read books about trees and forests.
Trees and Subject Matter
No matter what subject, Arbor Day can be celebrated.
- Study the ecosystem of one particular tree.
- Learn to identify trees in your community by using a tree key or having students create a tree key in class.
- Take a nature walk to identify trees.
- Study the structure of a tree, how it functions and benefits a tree provides.
- Learn about the history of Arbor Day.
- Study the importance of trees in different cultures.
- Correlate the history of the United States or your community to one tree's growth rings.
- Learn how to measure a tree's height, crown spread and diameter.
- Have younger children count the rings on a tree stump.
- Look for a pattern of numbers in nature.
- Participate in The National Arbor Day Foundation's National Poster Contest (fifth grade).
- Collect leaves, put tempera paint on them, and make leaf prints.
- Do bark rubbings and have students trade rubbings to see if they can identify each other's trees.
- Draw pictures, posters, murals or stamps.
- Design program handouts for a school tree planting program. Physical Education
- Have students identify trees by their shapes while outside.
- Write an Arbor Day poem, story or song and perform it for the class/school.
- Have each student write a description of a tree found on the school grounds; then see if other students can find it using the description.
- Have students write letters to community tree planters, thanking them for their efforts.
- Share famous tree quotes
- Find out about spices and other foods and learn about the trees that produce them.
- Produce a play recreating the history of Arbor Day. Invite older residents in the community to attend, so they can share past Arbor Day stories with the school.
Classroom and School-wide Activities
- Hold an art or essay contest judged by teachers, the PTA, and/or local garden clubs. Emphasize content, original thought, uniqueness, and creative effort. Topics may include: What It's Like to be a Tree, A Tree's Role in the Environment, A View from the Top of a Tree, How Trees Help Save Energy, Who Should Plant Trees and Who Depends on Trees.
- Play "Tree Jeopardy" or "Tree-vial Pursuit," and see which class or group of students can answer the most tree-related questions.
- Plant trees on the school grounds and learn how to maintain them. Ask the principal to make an Arbor Day Proclamation for the school and display the Proclamation in the main hallway.
- Participate in a community Arbor Day celebration as a field trip.
- Hold a "Read-In" at the library and have all the tree books - both fiction and nonfiction - on display to increase awareness of the tree resources available at school.