PLT’s Top 8 Socially-Distanced Activities

PLT identified our Top Eight activities from our new Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide that are exemplars for socially-distanced safety. Criteria for selection included:

  • Outdoors only or able to be conducted indoors with one person per table or 6-foot space between people.
  • No materials sharing.
  • Limited group work.

Although we have arranged them by grade band, remember that they can easily be adapted up or down, especially in non-classroom settings with mixed ages.


Grades K-2young-girl-playing-with-a-leaf

  • The Closer You Look – Each participant draws a tree from memory and then draws an actual tree outside. As a group, discuss what participants observed through the activity.


  • Have Seeds Will Travel – Each participant gets a plate of different seeds and classifies them in as many different ways as they can. As a group, discuss the different means of classifying. Talk about the design challenge of modifying a bean seed to stick to a plush toy or puppet, or the design challenges in the 3-5 Variation. If comfortable, you could provide different materials for participants to actually do one of the challenges, but it would likely require sharing materials.


Grades 3-5

  • Discover Diversity – Each participant has their own study plot to explore, using their own student page. After finding life on their plot, they could share with another participant what they found.


  • Image- Kids looking at treeGet Outside! – Each participant can measure their own heart rate and mood (using either student page) both inside and outside after doing the same task in each location.


  • Tree Cookies – Each participant gets their own tree cookie, finds the different parts and determines its age. Then, they draw their own tree cookie showing important events in their life.


  • Tree ID – To prep, presenter creates a Tree ID sheet for the site. Each participant looks at their own assortment of leaves and sorts them in different ways. Presenter shares some of the leaf features used to identify different trees. Then, participants visit trees outside and identify them from the ID sheet.


Grades 6-8 Urban forest park with city in the background

  • Living with Fire – Presenter introduces the Fire Triangle, then does Part B as a demonstration outside. Participants do individual wildfire safety checks of the site, using the checklist.


  • Nature’s Skyscrapers – Participants measure the height and width of trees outside using their own tape measure and/or ruler. They may each measure their own tree, or do the measuring sequentially.



Get the Activities 

Purchase PLT’s Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide from, Amazon, and other places where books are sold.

Or, find out about training opportunities in your state.

State PLT programs offer in-person and virtual professional development. Through these interactive (and fun) workshops, participants can receive a print or online copy of Explore Your Environment and practice how to use PLT materials while also gaining insights from the facilitator and each other related to content and teaching strategies.

Jackie Stallard

Jackie Stallard

Jackie is Director of Curriculum for Project Learning Tree. Jackie oversees the next generation of PLT’s PreK-12 environmental education materials, as well as other instructional materials and resources. She also directs strategic alliances that advance curriculum implementation with other environmental education and sustainability resource providers.