Project Learning Tree (PLT)

Graphic of Minnesota PLT logoPLT PreK-8 Activity Guide

Contains 96 interdisciplinary hands-on activities about trees, forestry, and natural resources (land, air, and water). Every activity give students the chance to investigate environmental issues, make informed, responsible decisions, and, most importantly learn, how to think, not what to think.

Features in the PLT PreK–8 Activity Guide (all editions 2006 and later)

  • graphic: PTL Prek-8 book coverSafety tips, updated background and statistics, strengthened assessments, improved graphics and photos
  • Two new activities, "Invasive Species" and "The Global Climate"
  • PDFs of student pages for each activity
  • Related "Earth and Sky" radio shows for most activities.

The only way to get PLT PreK–8 Activity Guide is to attend a PLT workshop.

Five sample summaries of activities from the PLT Pre K–8 Activity Guide, with optional handouts and resources.


1. Get in Touch With Trees


photo:Getting in touch with treesSummary: In this activity students will explore their sense of touch and discover why touch is important to animals, including themselves.
Objectives: Students will 1) become aware of how the bark of different trees varies in texture and 2) describe a variety of textures found in leaves and other tree parts.
Subjects: Science, Language Arts, Visual Arts
Grades: PreK, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Differentiated instruction: Curricular/Personal Connections, Key Vocabulary, Paired/Cooperative Learning, Realia, Hands-on Learning, Oral/Reading/Writing Skills, Higher Order Thinking
Differentiated instruction: Graphics Software

2. The Forest of S.T. Shrew

photo: students art workSummary: By taking a "shrew's eye view" of life in the woods, your students will gain an appreciation for the variety of living things that make forests their homes, and for the variety of habitats within forests.
Objectives: Students will 1) identify microhabitats in the forest by drawing pictures or writing a story describing a microhabitat and 2) describe some of the plants and animals that characterize several microhabitats within the forest.
Subjects: Science, Language Arts, Visual Arts
Grades: 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Differentiated instruction: Realia/Hands-on Learning, Prior Knowledge Skills, Paired/Cooperative Learning, Higher Order Thinking, Oral/Reading/Writing Skills

Optional supplemental resources:

3. Web of Life

photo: Girl holding bookletOverview: In this activity, students will take a close look at one particular ecosystem (a forest) and will discover the ways that plants and animals are connected to each other. By substituting the appropriate information, you can also use the activity to study other ecosystems, such as oceans, deserts, marshes, or prairies.
Objectives: Students will 1) collect information about various organisms in an ecosystem, 2) create a mural that depicts the interdependence of various organisms with other components in an ecosystem, and 3) create a simulated web of life using a ball of string.
Subject Areas: Science, Language Arts, Visual Arts
Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Differentiated instruction: Higher Order Thinking, Paired/Cooperative Learning, Prior Knowledge Skills
Differentiated instruction: Graphics Software, Internet Resources

Optional supplemental resources:

4. How Big Is Your Tree?

photo:how big is your treeOverview: Trees come in various shapes and sizes. In this activity, students will measure trees in different ways and become familiar with a tree's structure. They will also learn the importance of standard units of measure and measuring techniques.
Objectives: Students will 1) measure and compare trees and tree parts, 2) discuss how and why people measure things, including trees, and 3) explain the need for consistency in measuring.
Subject Areas: Science, Math, Social Studies
Grades: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; Variation: PreK–2
Optional supplemental resources:

5. Tree Cookies

photo: tree cookieOverview: One of the best ways to learn about a tree is to look at its annual rings. Tree rings show patterns of change in the tree's life as well as changes in the area where it grows. In this activity, students will trace environmental and historical changes using a cross section of a tree trunk, or "tree cookie."
Objectives: Students will 1) identify heartwood, sapwood, and a tree's annual rings, 2) infer from a tree's rings what damage or stress might have occurred in its life, and 3) make a timeline of human history that coincides with a tree's rings.
Subject Areas: Science, Social Studies, Visual Arts, Language Arts
Grades: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; Variation: 1–3
Differentiated instruction: Curricular/Personal Connections, Realia/Hands-on Learning, Oral/Reading/Writing Skills, Prior Knowledge
Optional supplemental resources:

6. Can it Be Real?

Overview: Students discover extraordinary plants and animals, and will gain insight on how they are uniquely adapted to environmental conditions.
Objectives: Students will 1) predict whether unusual plant and animal characteristics are real, and 2) research a plant or animal to understand how organisms are adapted to their particular environments.
Subject Areas: Science, Language Arts
Grades: 4-8
Optional supplemental resources:

You like what you see here? Wait until you attend a PLT workshop!