New Releases and Free Resources: PLT Year in Review

November 30, 2021

Project Learning Tree uses trees and forests as windows on the world to engage youth — from early childhood through to young adult — in exploring nature. Our activities are fun and full of learning! They’re flexible and easy to use in all kinds of educational settings. They connect children to the outdoors, increase young people’s awareness and knowledge about their environment, introduce green careers, and provide real-world opportunities for students to develop and apply skills like STEM, critical thinking, problem-solving, communications, and youth voice.

As 2021 draws to a close, we wanted to highlight our newest releases, as well as the training and resources we deliver for free, thanks to our partners and sponsors.

Bookmark and explore all our resources and professional development opportunities!


NEW! Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide

This 432-page guide (available in print or e-book) is our most popular new release in 2021, with nearly 10,000 copies already sold!

It contains 50 hands-on, multidisciplinary activities to connect students to nature and the outdoors, no matter if you live in a rural or urban area. The activities combine science with art, English, math, and social studies. Each activity is tied to academic standards and other benchmarks. They include ways to take learning outdoors, incorporate STEM, and differentiate instruction depending on the individual needs of your students and many more new features designed for flexible instruction.

Learn more about this guide and all it offers in this 3-minute video:


  • Featured in Kirkus Reviews (see page 253) “ An important and engaging tool for teachers. The activities are consistently fun throughout and offer a path toward creating a new generation focused on environmental issues.”
  • Awarded The Kirkus Star “One of the most coveted designations in the book industry, the Kirkus Star marks books of exceptional merit.”

light green button that reads buy now




To help you get the most out of your Explore Your Environment guide, we developed a self-paced, interactive online course, and our PLT state programs offer in-person, blended, and virtual professional development workshops (tailored to your state, educational setting, and grade level).

Plus, curated resources, downloadable student pages, recommended reading, correlations to academic standards, suggested Units of Instruction, and much, much more! Download these resources for free at


PLT's Trillions of Trees and Nature of Fire covers of curriculumNEW! Activity Collections

Not ready to purchase the full Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide yet? Try an Activity Collection instead!

Organized around a specific theme for a particular grade level, each collection offers three activities from the new guide, available for purchase as a downloadable PDF.

The activities that comprise each collection can be used as individual, stand-alone lessons, or all together as a cohesive unit of instruction using a storyline technique.

Trillions of Trees for grades 3-5 and Nature of Fire for grades 6-8 are the newest releases in this series. Others include Sensational Trees for grades K-2, Biodiversity Blitz for grades 3-5, and Discover Your Urban Forest for grades 6-8.

Purchase these Activity Collections directly from, or ask your PLT State Coordinator about a mini in-person or virtual professional development workshop.


FREE! Learn About Forests Toolkit

Kids taking soil sample in forest

It’s hard for people unfamiliar with teaching kids to know how to translate good intentions into effective, age-appropriate lessons. Weyerhaeuser partnered with PLT and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative to develop PLT’s free Learn About Forests toolkit, in part to better equip its own natural resource professionals with a way to connect with students.

Learn About Forests consists of 12 hands-on activities to do with children ages 10 to 16. The activities provide non-educators an easy-to-follow path to confidently teach about themes related to sustainable forest management, stewardship, and green careers. These are topics that many of today’s young people want to know more about, for example:

  • Every Tree for Itself: Explore how trees compete with each other for nutrients, sunlight, space, and water
  • Living with Fire: Explore the burnability of different fuels and the role of fire in ecosystems
  • What’s in a Label: Understand what certification is and why it matters
  • Who Works in This Forest: Learn about forest-related careers


The free supporting toolkit provides tips and tricks for working with youth, for example: 

  • Tell a captivating story. You might start each activity by sharing a personal anecdote from your own experience.
  • Model thinking skills. When the group discovers something unfamiliar, you might say, “I don’t know–let’s explore that together” or “What do you think is the best solution?
  • Silence is okay. Give youth adequate time to process information and respond.
  • Focus on the experience. Try not to get bogged down in the details by encouraging youth to make their own observations, ask questions, and draw conclusions.


Download the activities and toolkit at

For a similar project that engages younger children, try our Pocket Guide: Seeds to Trees (for ages 3-6), which was developed with support from International Paper.



cover of plt's forest literacy framework with four different children inspect leaves in front of a white backgroundFREE! Forest Literacy Framework

Also launched this year, PLT’s Forest Literacy Framework translates the language of forests and sustainable forest management into concepts for everyone at any age. It provides a roadmap to hundreds of hands-on activities PLT has developed to use with youth ages 5 to 18, organized by grade level, hot topic (such as climate change, wildfire, and urban forests), and theme (such as why forests matter and sustainability).


The framework offers 100 forest concepts for grades K-12, organized into four themes:

  1. What is a forest?
  2. Why do forests matter?
  3. How do we sustain our forests?
  4. What is our responsibility to forests?

Thanks to the U.S. Forest Service for their support and collaboration on this project.

Learn more and download the framework at



Let Us Know How We’re Doing!

We’d love to hear your feedback about our new resources and ways we can improve them. PLT is all about continuous improvement and we welcome and invite your suggestions about how we can make our work even more relevant to you and the youth you reach.
Please write to us at [email protected].

Vanessa Bullwinkle

Vanessa Bullwinkle

Vanessa Bullwinkle is Director of Communications & Marketing for Project Learning Tree.