With the continuous evolution of education pedagogy, Project Learning Tree (PLT) is consistently creating and revising curriculum for all ages of students to create captivating activities for students and educators. PLT’s newest addition, Trees & Me, was released this March contains hundreds of ideas for fun, easy-to-do, hands-on experiences to connect young children to nature, with a focus on trees and forests. Through both outdoor and indoor activities, children explore nature through their five senses, experience trees throughout all four seasons, and connect with their community.
The 12 hands-on Trees & Me activities are designed for families and teachers to use with children ages 1–6 in a range of settings, including preschools, childcare centers, and nature centers, at home, or with families and friends spending time together. Special instructions tailor many experiences to children under 3 years of age. Families and caregivers, childcare providers, and early childhood educators can easily adapt the activities as necessary to meet each child’s unique needs, the environment where they live, and the materials available.
Children learn concepts necessary to succeed in school, including age-appropriate literacy, math, and critical thinking skills. They make music, create things, and gain physical dexterity. They are empowered to work independently and in groups. Through dramatic play and skill practice, they explore careers which plants ideas for a child’s future.
What’s more, research indicates that early exposure to nature and the outdoors improves emotional and physical well-being, enhances learning, promotes positive social behavior, and makes children more likely to care about their environment throughout their lives.
Each activity contains background information for adults, preparation steps, and materials, plus explicit connections with early learning standards in science, English language arts, math, and social studies, as well as programs such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Head Start.
Art is integrated throughout every activity and STEM is practiced through ten essential skills, effectively integrating the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Each activity suggests concrete ways that families and friends can enhance the learning experience at home, including helping out in the community. The activities also provide reading suggestions, as well as musical selections and sound samples to accompany experiences. Scannable QR codes that can be easily read with most smartphone cameras direct to specific tracks.
The guide also includes valuable appendices, such as tested techniques for engaging early learners, tips for outdoor learning, bringing nature inside, and woodworking, that not only support the activities, but also serve as a resource in a range of situations.