Even with snow still on the ground, Spring officially sprung on March 20th. Soon, temperatures will rise, bulbs will pop through the earth, and buds will burst into Spring blossoms. As teachers, this is an opportunity to invite our students to observe the awakening of all that is green around us, and embrace all that Spring has to offer- like trees, and the celebration of Arbor Day!
Here in New Jersey, Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April. It encourages communities to plant and care for trees and has been observed across the nation since 1872, thanks to Sterling Morton. This year it will be celebrated on Friday, April 27.
“Arbor Day is not like other holidays,” as noted by Sterling Morton. “Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future.” Arbor Day is about restoring what we have used, as Sterling Morton continues, “Each generation takes the earth as trustees…We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.” Arbor Day comes just a week after Earth Day (April 22, 2018), and comes with a similar message of caring for our earth, and preserving it for the next generation.
This is a fun day to get involved with- after all, what student (and teacher) doesn’t LOVE a Spring afternoon outside! There are so many ideas for this day, no matter the age or subject that you teach!
- Have your kids complete a scavenger hunt for tree types, biggest tree, smallest tree, oldest tree, etc.
- Invite students to sit under a tree and discuss how trees help us, and write poems or haikus about them.
- Have students take a walk around the school and survey/map the trees on school property.
- Review the history of Arbor Day and watch It’s Arbor Day Charlie Brown.
- Have an Arbor Day Celebration Ceremony and plant a tree on school ground, or plant seedlings in the classroom for the students to take home and plant.
- Hold an “Arbor Day Birthday Party” with tree themed games/crafts.
- Offer a contest on an educational Arbor Day poster to teach other students about trees by placing them around the school.
- You could even read a book, or ask students to make their own books about trees.
Check out the links below from the Arbor Day foundation for some more ideas!
You might be wondering HOW to get trees to plant for Arbor Day. Many local counties offer free trees to schools, so check your local resources first! You can also get free trees just for being a New Jersey resident. The Arbor Day Foundation has partnered with the New Jersey State Forestry Service to distribute over 100,000 trees to local residents to plant as they like. Towns are giving away these trees to residents to use (proof of residency required). Here’s a link to the map for locations and times of the giveaways.
Arbor Day countdown: https://www.arborday.org/celebrate/
Arbor Day teaching ideas: https://www.arborday.org/kids/teachingyouth.cfm
It’s Arbor Day Charlie Brown: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4icq0c
-Jessica Cicalese Kurtz