Teaching Children and Youth about Trees, Fall 2022

Participants displaying their leaf collages

For the past several months, our Education Fellow from the College for Social Innovation, Victoria Leda, has been taking the lead on teaching lessons on tree equity and tree identification to children and youth throughout Boston. We are thankful for the partnership with several local organizations who made this work possible. Victoria has been supported by our Education Coordinator Joshua Reed. Below she shares the various creative events and lessons that she provided in a range of settings and to a variety of age groups. 

Hemlock Hill at the Arnold Arboretum 5th Grade Program, October 18

Along with BPS teachers, Arboretum staff, and volunteers, SFTT education staff helped teach students about ecosystems during a nature walk, sharing their expertise about trees and their role in ecosystems. The program builds off of knowledge obtained through science class and uses Boston schools’ learning standards. 

New Covenant School Kindergarten Class, October 19

SFTT education staff taught a class of kindergarten students about tree identification and the importance of trees. Through group discussions and an outdoor tree identification walk, the young students explored why trees are important, what different trees look like, and why people like trees. They also made leaf etchings with the leaves they had collected outside. By the end of the lesson, many of the children felt like tree experts. They could tell you, “Maple leaves look like the palms of our hands, and oak leaves are long! You use maple trees to make maple syrup!”

Boston Collegiate Charter School 6th Grade Classes, October 25 and 26

At the Boston Collegiate Charter School in Dorchester, the SFTT education staff taught two lessons in Ronan Park where several sixth-grade classes came together and learned how to identify trees, what “tree blindness” is, and why trees are important. Students walked around the park with tree identification guides trying to find as many different tree species as they could. At the end of the lesson, more than half of the students agreed that they felt as though they would notice more trees, and all students agreed they had had fun participating. 

Boston Nature Center youth showing their mapsBoston Nature Center’s Youth Climate Summit for High School Students, November 5

Speak for the Trees was invited to facilitate a workshop at Boston Nature Center’s Youth Climate Summit in Mattapan. Victoria taught a workshop to high school students about tree equity in Boston, including information on tree distribution, redlining, and the urban heat island effect. The students participated in a “draw your neighborhood” activity, where they showed the locations of trees in their own neighborhoods and marked where more trees could be planted. This activity was followed by a group discussion on which neighborhoods have more trees and what tree distribution looks like in their communities. 

Participants displaying their leaf collagesFamilies Creating Together Family Collage Workshop, November 19 

Speak for the Trees Boston collaborated with Families Creating Together in hosting a nature collaging workshop in Dorchester. After a discussion on urban forestry, tree blindness, and the benefits of trees, children and parents made collages using recycled materials, leaves, twigs, and acorns.

A big thank you to the Arnold Arboretum, New Covenant School, Boston Collegiate Charter School, Boston Nature Center, and Families Creating Together for inviting SFTT’s education staff to teach at their programs. If you work at a program that would like to invite SFTT educators to teach a lesson, please reach out by emailing joshua@treeboston.org