Press Release

PROJECT LEARNING TREE RELEASES NEW EXPLORE YOUR ENVIRONMENT: K-8 ACTIVITY GUIDE FOR ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL EDUCATORS

Washington, D.C., April 6, 2021 — Project Learning Tree® (PLT) released a new curriculum guide today to engage kindergarten through grade 8 students in exploring their environment. Fifty field-tested, hands-on activities integrate investigations of nature with science, math, English language arts, and social studies. Educators can obtain a copy of PLT’s Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide directly from PLT’s Shop or by attending a local PLT professional development workshop conducted by PLT’s 50-state network of 75 coordinators and 1,000 facilitators across the country. 

Project Learning Tree is a long-established, award-winning environmental education program that uses trees and forests as windows on the world to advance environmental literacy, stewardship, and pathways to green careers. This new, cutting-edge resource for educators offers robust, real-world learning experiences for students designed to bolster STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning, promote civic engagement, and help young people acquire the skills they’ll need to be creative problem solvers. The activities develop students’ critical thinking skills as they participate in hands-on learning, debate real-life environmental decisions, and engage with their community in action projects.

Each activity provides educators all the information they need to plan, organize, and conduct the learning experience, as well as assessment and enrichment opportunities. Importantly for educators, each activity displays explicit connections to practices and concepts mandated by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts and Mathematics, and College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies (C3).

“The guide is fresh, it’s user-friendly, and it works indoors and outdoors, in classrooms and nonformal settings, in urban, suburban, and rural settings” says Jaclyn Stallard, PLT’s Director of Curriculum. “Educators can easily integrate the activities into their existing curriculum or other programming to actively engage students in learning about both the natural world and the built environment. Every activity in the guide suggests ways to take student learning outside, which has only increased in importance to many parents and educators over the last year due to Covid-19.”

“For teachers that have challenges with moving out of the classroom, sometimes a gentle push is all someone needs and the ‘Take It Outside’ feature provides just that,” said Tony Napoletano, a public school teacher at Central Elementary School in Helena, MT, one of more than 40 educators who field-tested the activities with students. “The ‘I Love My Green Job’ highlights are also exciting. They show kids early on what careers they might want to pursue and just how many options there are in the green job field.”

PLT uses experiential learning, inquiry-based investigations, outdoor education, and service learning to help educators make learning relevant and fun for students. In addition, every activity includes career connections to further link learning to real-life experiences.

To ensure that PLT meets the needs of educators, hundreds of professional educators and technical experts help develop, review, field test, and evaluate all of PLT’s curriculum materials. The process includes research, surveys, writing workshops, and reviews with educators and natural resource professionals; revisions based on field testing; and formal assessment of impact on student learning by independent evaluators. 

“There are a variety of ways to incorporate the activities into what I am already teaching,” said another pilot tester, Dr. Robin C. McLean, Agriscience teacher and Career and Technical Education at Northern Burlington County Regional Middle School in Columbus, NJ. “The strategies for differentiation and enrichment help to meet the diverse needs of my students and make the experience relevant for them.”

“I like how you list ideas for adapting activities to different age groups,” said Laura Bland, a state park naturalist with Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “This is important to me as I work with a variety of ages.”

PLT is committed to accessibility and this guide was developed through a critical lens of justice and inclusion. PLT’s model of professional development also helps to ensure that instruction and content strategies can be modified to meet the needs of all learners.

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About Project Learning Tree

PLT is an award-winning environmental education program that advances environmental literacy, stewardship and career pathways using trees and forests as windows on the world. PLT teaches kids how to think, not what to think about the environment and supports getting youth into nature in ways that are meaningful, that inspire them to become environmental stewards and future conservation leaders, and that introduce them to green careers. PLT is an initiative of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Learn more: plt.org.

Media Contact:
Vanessa Bullwinkle
Sr. Director, Communications and Marketing
Project Learning Tree

Sustainable Forestry Initiative
202-765-3726 / vanessa.bullwinkle@forests.org


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