In Fall 2022, we set out to expand our education program, reaching out to other organizations and schools in the Greater Boston area interested in lessons on tree equity and the importance of urban trees for Boston youth. We are continuing that work, so check out these past lessons and workshops, stay tuned for more, and reach out if you are interested in partnering with us!
Please note that these lessons can be adapted to be taught to all age groups and grade levels.
Tree Identification and Leaf Etching
K – 2nd Grade
This lesson introduces students to various tree species common in Boston, the importance of those trees, and how to identify them. Through group discussions and an outdoor tree identification walk, the young students explore why trees are important, what different trees look like, and why people like trees. They will also make leaf etchings with the leaves they had collected outside. The goal is for students to know and think more about the trees and greenery around them.
5th – 8th Grade
This lesson will teach students how to identify trees by their leaves, what “tree blindness” is, and why trees are important in an urban environment. The lesson begins with a discussion on why trees are so necessary and some leaf biology to assist identifying trees. Students are then to be provided with tree identification guides and try to find as many different tree species as they can, collecting those leaves along the way. At the end of the lesson, a discussion is held on the leaves found and the trees observed.
“Map Your Neighborhood,” a Lesson on Tree Equity
9th – 12th Grade
In this lesson, students will be taught about tree equity, including information on tree distribution, the history of redlining, and the urban heat island effect. Students then participate in a “draw your neighborhood” activity, where they show the locations of trees in their own neighborhoods and mark where more trees could be planted. This allows students to relate the topic of equity and the lack of distribution to trees to all communities to their own experiences. This activity is followed by a group discussion on which neighborhoods have more trees and what tree distribution looks like in their communities.
Nature Collage Workshop
K – 8th Grade
This lesson begins with a quick discussion on urban forestry, tree blindness, and why trees are so important before leading students in a nature collaging workshop. Collages will be made using regular art materials as well as recycled materials, leaves, twigs, and acorns.
Parts of a Tree
K – 5th Grade
This lesson introduces students to the different parts of a tree, from the roots and the trunk to the branches and crown. They get an opportunity to match the terms they learn to their place on the tree before drawing and sharing their own tree.
Tree Equity and Environmental Justice
8th – 12th Grade
This lesson discusses the importance of urban trees and achieving tree equity in Boston. The discussion includes tree benefits, environmental justice, and the history of exclusionary policies such as redlining. Most of the material focuses on the issue of equity and the historical causes for the lack of equitable distribution of environmental benefits today as a result. This will lead into an activity that has students draw “trees in action” and hold a group discussion on the benefits they chose to highlight.
Grades K – 12
This lesson will introduce students to the importance of tree care for urban trees. It is often forgotten that trees need consistent care after they are planted, and the goal with this lesson is to inform students why and how to care for trees. This particular lesson focuses on mulching. Tying this to an outdoors demonstration is suggested but not required.