Let’s Go Back to School and Back to Nature

August 15, 2023

Ahhhhhh…the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the crispness of notebooks, the excitement of learning new things.

This school year, keep the energy and excitement for learning high with ten fun ways to engage learners.

10 Ways to Engage Students with Nature

  1. Take learning outside. Being outdoors provides so many benefits – social, mental, physical, and learning! – but it also connects children to nature, which is so important in a world where people are tethered to technology and disconnected from the natural world. In PLT’s activity collection, Connecting for Health and Planet, students investigate the physical and emotional benefits of working or playing outdoors.
  2. Play detective. Every child learns differently, but one way to put theory into practice is through inquiry-based learning. Invite students to make observations, ask questions, and set up their own investigations. This helps build their problem-solving and analytical skills while keeping them actively engaged. Check out our Trees in Trouble activity, where students play detective with leaves.
  3. Bring nature inside. We realize that heading outdoors to learn isn’t always feasible, but there are many ways you can bring nature inside. Make your own paper. Observe the changing leaves from your classroom window during the Fall. There are 50 fun activities in PLT’s Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide that give you options for learning indoors and outdoors.
  4. Students planting a treeDo a service-learning project. What better way to teach children about giving back than to work on a project that betters your community? Whether you do a quarterly litter clean-up or plant trees in an urban space, students can learn while helping out.
  5. Encourage students to dream big. As an educator, you inspire children every day. PLT’s Water Wonders activity can help you teach about watersheds and the water cycle, and may spark an interest and lead to a student becoming a hydrologist in 20 years. You have the power to encourage children to follow their passion, explore nature, and open their eyes to careers they may have never dreamt about.
  6. STEM it up! Get hands-on with nature-inspired STEM activities. Check out our Pinterest page – there are tons of fun ways to encourage students to build, collaborate, and use their creativity! We also have STEM Strategies with suggestions for enriching activities from the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide.
  7. Learn and imagine. Take your learners on a journey by reading a new book (or two or three!). Reading to children helps to support their cognitive development, improves language skills and creativity, and increases focus and concentration. Check out the Recommended Reading section on our website where you can find different books that teach children about nature.
  8. Start a classroom garden. Plant seeds indoors to observe their growth and then transfer them to an outdoor garden. Learn how to get started using minimal resources!
  9. Become budding artists. Some of the most amazing art is inspired by nature. Encourage your students to get creative and be inspired by trees and the world around them. Check out 21 tree art projects for young learners!
  10. Explore nature through technology. We’re all about putting our phones away for tech-free time. But there are some really cool programs and apps to help you and your students learn more about the environment. Check out i-Tree (calculate the value of benefits that trees provide), iNaturalist (plants and animals identification), and Merlin (bird identification), to name a few!

This school year, take learning to the next level with PLT!


project learning tree's explore your environment guideExplore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide 

Looking for activities for the whole school year? Check out PLT’s flagship curriculum, the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide. Filled with 50 activities suitable for educators working with ages five through fourteen, or kindergarten through 8th grade. The activities are multidisciplinary and incorporate math, science, language arts, social studies and more.




Try Our Digital Activity Collections

If you’ve never tried PLT activities with your students, a great way to get started is with our theme-based digital activity collections. Comprised of three activities that can be done as stand-alone lessons or together as a cohesive unit of instruction, these are the perfect way to take students outside to learn or bring nature indoors. Each collection includes 3 hands-on activities for just $5.99! 





Get the most out of PLT by pairing our resources with professional development.

We know how busy life can get, which is why we have in-person, online, and hybrid training opportunities that work with your schedule. You’ll experience PLT activities, get comfortable leading activities outdoors, connect with an amazing network of educators, and leave with a plan to incorporate activities into your lessons.


Megan Annis

Megan Annis

Megan is Project Learning Tree (PLT) and PLT Canada's Director of Sales and Marketing. She believes working with youth is the key to building a sustainable future and is passionate about helping bring environmental education, forest literacy, and career pathways products to market.