Be the source of new life by planting a tree!
Encourage your students to find their inner green thumb by planting trees throughout the community! Whether it is within a school or a 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 students’ 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: K-2 and 3-5
- 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
Students will add to local ecosystems by planting trees within their communities.
Educator Project Plan
Follow the steps below to set up a successful Tree Planting event at your school! Need help? Contact us!
Track your metrics and submit your impact after implementing this toolkit. Your feedback helps keep our programs free for all across the globe.
- A Student Group such as (a club, before/after school program, non-school organization)
- A whole class
- The whole school
- Working with a small group of students? Choose 1 or 2 spots to plant a tree
- Working with a larger team? Split up into groups and have each one select a location to plant a tree
- Is your whole school involved? Split up by classroom or grade level and identify a location on campus or in the neighborhood to plant a tree
Why Are Trees Important?
The resources provided below can be shown as a slideshow or printed out as individual worksheets for students to learn.
Trees Allow People to Breathe!
One of the things all humans and animals need to live is oxygen. It helps us breathe and allows our bodies to work well, so we can do our daily activities. Most of the oxygen in our air comes from plants & trees. They also soak up things like carbon dioxide, which is not good for us or our planet when there is too much. If we plant 20 million trees, we would be able to add 260 million tons of oxygen to the earth while at the same time, absorbing 10 million tons of carbon dioxide. 
Trees Can Support Many Families!
Trees help us in other ways too. In addition to oxygen, trees provide a place for animals such as birds, squirrels, or insects to live. Some trees also provide food for these same creatures, which allows them to live happily. 
Trees Prepare us for the Future!
When trees are cut down, that is called deforestation. But when you plant a tree, that is reforestation. Reforestation helps our ecosystem, which is the environment where different plants, animals and organisms live. When we plant trees it makes it easier for ecosystems to adjust to the things that happen when our climate changes. 
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 trees are important!
Think About It!
- Are there places in your school or community where trees could be planted?
- What types of trees should you grow?
- How much water do you think a tree needs every day?
- Why do you think people cut down trees?
- What are some locations that do not have trees, but you think can benefit from adding more shade?
Take Action: How to LAUNCH Tree Planting
Lead students through thein “Tree Planting” activity with guided instructions. Check out “Pro Tips” with each step for useful help:
1. Gather Participants
Decide who and how many students/staff are participating; invite attendees to support your planting efforts using the Tree Plant Sign-Up Sheet. Use the Tree Planting Invite and Safety Guidelines Template as an informational notice.
2. Map it Out
Look at a map of the school or neighborhood. Make a list of areas where it would be good to plant new trees. Use the Tree Planting Locations Map to keep track of the tree locations.
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!)
3. Prepare Your Materials
- Collect all the trees you plan to plant for your chosen location. If you are struggling to come up with a process to get 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 them.*
- 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.
- Contact local organizations and government agencies to see if they offer any funding or assistance for Tree Planting in your area
- Gather your gardening supplies and choose a good 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.
4. Plant Your Trees
Decide a time and day for each group to plant their trees! Go to your selected location(s) and follow the steps provided here.
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.
5. Make a Schedule
After you plant them, set up a schedule to check on and take care of your tree.
- Determine a day or multiple when you will plant trees. If you are still working on this project, 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!
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 great things that happened during your project?
- What could you do to make this project even better next time?
- What location could use some new trees?
- How will these new trees help the environment and 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
Congrats on completing the Tree Planting Eco-Toolkit!
Did you enjoy this toolkit? Find your next project here!