Find your inner green thumb by planting trees throughout the community! At your school or in your neighborhood, planting trees can have a variety of aesthetic and technical benefits. From providing shade to creating oxygen, trees are essential to our ecosystem and your participation can lead to positive environmental impacts!
This toolkit address the following Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) within the Performance Expectations of NGSS for Grades: 6-8 and 9-12
- Asking Questions and Defining a Problem
- Planning and Carrying out Investigations
- Analyzing and Interpreting Data
- Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
- Obtaining Evaluating, and Communicating Information
- Students will analyze their campus and/or neighborhood for locations to plant a tree
- Project Management
- Students will practice leadership skills by delegating tasks to each other
- Students will identify routines to accomplish their goal
- Evaluation and Assessment
- Students will track and evaluate the impact of their project
Why It’s Important
Deforestation is an emerging issue throughout the world that is threatened by urban development. As humans continue to expand in land occupation, reductions in tree volume can lead to the loss of natural habitats, decreased oxygen synthesis, and increased land runoff. Promoting the act of planting trees can aid these disparities while increasing aesthetic utility of urban areas.
What You Will Accomplish
Your team will contribute to local ecosystems by planting trees within their communities.
Why Trees Are Important!
The resources provided can be shown as a slideshow or printed out as individual worksheets for students to learn.
Trees Allow Us to Breathe!
One of the most important elements for survival is oxygen because it allows us to breathe and support bodily functions. Trees are an important source of oxygen in our atmosphere and their presence allows us to carry out our daily routines. In fact, by planting 20 million trees, we would be able to add 260 million tons of oxygen to the atomosphere while sequestering 10 million tons of carbon dioxide simultaneously. 
Trees Can Support Many Families!
Trees provide many functions to not only humans, but other animals as well. In addition to oxygen, trees provide a habitat for a variety of species such as birds, squirrels, or insects. Furthermore, some trees can provide food for the same organisms, which allows them to live happily. 
Trees Prepare Us for the Future!
While there are many short term benefits of trees, it is also important to identify how they can help us in the long term. The action of reforestation sparks the possibility of a resilient ecosystem that can withstand disturbances such as land runoff and wildfires. Furthermore, reforestation allows local ecosystems to adapt easier with the effects of climate change. 
Why Tree Coverage is a Social Justice Issue
Urban development plans show that locations with increased wealth have a higher ratio of trees to population while disenfranchised communities sustain less coverage leading to an Urban Heat Island effect. An Urban Heat Island consists of low tree/plant coverage in addition to a higher area of concrete and buildings which results in increased temperatures.
Watch these two short videos to learn why it’s important to reduce waste!
Think About It!
- Describe places in your school or community where trees could be planted.
- What types of trees should you grow? Will they do well in the new environment?
- How much water do you think a tree needs daily?
- Why do you think people cut down trees?
Take Action: How to LAUNCH a Tree Planting Campaign
Follow the steps below to set up a successful Tree Planting Campaign at your school! Need help? Contact us!
Step 1: Gather Participants
Determine who and how many students/staff are participating. Invite attendees to support your planting efforts. Use the Tree Planting Invite and Safety Guidelines Template.
Step 2: Map it Out
Look at a map of the school or neighborhood. Make a list of areas that could benefit from and support new trees. Use the Tree Planting Locations Map to keep track of the location of trees.
It’s amazing how much more people care about something once they’ve given it a name. Just like you would name a pet, naming “your” tree can build a real feeling of ownership and pride. (Plus, it’s fun!)
Step 3: Prepare Your Materials
- Collect all of the trees you plan to plant for your designated location. If you are struggling to create a process to obtain them, consider these resources:
- Tree-Plenish – This is a national program that aims to offset school paper use by planting trees! In addition to providing trees, Tree-Plenish can also help with the planting process.*
- Reach out to your local nursery and ask if they can provide tree donations. Use the Tree Planting Donation Request Template as an email format.
- Home Depot – Reach out to your local Home Depot and apply for a tree donation request. Use the Tree Planting Donation Request Template as a guide.
- Gather your gardening supplies and choose an accessible location where they can be stored. This can include:
- Garden gloves
- Watering hose
- Popsicle sticks (if you are using seeds)
*Be aware that Tree-Plenish requires participants to plant trees at specific times throughout the year.
Step 4: Plant Your Trees
Decide a time and day for each group to plant their trees! Go to your selected location(s) and conduct the steps provided on this resource.
Take pictures of your team planting trees. Everyone loves to see themselves and their friends in action. It’s a great way to build a sense of belonging and community. Create a unique hashtag or social media page for your photos.
Step 5: Make a Schedule
After you plant your trees, set up a schedule to check on and maintain your trees’ health/growth.
- Determine a day or multiple days when you will plant trees. If it is ongoing, plan to check in from time to time to monitor your progress.
- Use our Tree Planting Team Organizer to help keep your team organized.
- Remember to keep your team safe!
Remember that trees are a living thing that grows. Take pictures of your tree’s progress and see it grow into something beautiful!
Step 6: Track Your Impact
Each group that has a tree/group of trees should track their progress with our Tree Planting Tracker. Take measurements every 2 weeks to see how quickly the tree grows.
Create a leaderboard to see who plants the most trees. If you want some added competition, create a second leaderboard on who’s tree/trees are growing the tallest.
How’d It Go?
- What were some small wins that happened during your project?
- What could you do to up your game next time?
- What location will benefit the most from new trees?
- How will these new trees benefit the environment in addition to your community?
Report Students’ Impact
Congratulations!! You’ve implemented Tree Planting! Don’t let all that hard work go unnoticed. Submit your results by clicking the green button below.
Project ongoing? No problem! Let us know what you’ve done so far.
By reporting your impact, Grades of Green can:
- CELEBRATE and elevate your students’ hard work and success.
- Offer our programs FREE for all students across the globe.
- AWARD stipends and certificates to hard-working educators and students.
Please take a few minutes to submit your results. Thank you!
- Tree Planting Sign-Up Sheet
- Tree Planting Safety and Guidelines
- Tree Planting Team Organizer
- Tree Planting Donation Request Template
- Tree Planting Location Map
- Tree Planting Tracker
- Tree Planting Wrap Up Form
- Tree Education Presentation
- Toolkit Resources – Google Drive Folder
Congrats on completing the Tree Planting Eco-Toolkit!
Did you enjoy this toolkit? Find your next project here!