Resources for GreenSchools School Site Investigation

Students investigate natural habitats, wildlife, trees, grounds maintenance practices, and ways to make improvements to your school site. 

Below is a collection of resources that support PLT’s GreenSchools School Site Investigation.

To get the investigation, register as a PLT GreenSchool, or purchase a print copy.

Vanessa Bullwinkle

Vanessa Bullwinkle

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

FAMILY ACTIVITY

Discover ways to green your home - and save money - with these questions and tips. This Green Your Home checklist will help children and their families decide together what they might do to improve their environment at home.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Every month we carefully select new tools and resources that enhance PLT’s lessons. These include educational apps, videos, posters, interactive websites, careers information, and teacher-generated materials. Browse a chronological listing below:

  • Finding Your Path

    Learn more about the life of a field forester and more in this booklet Find Your Path from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. Joe Newton, once a professional football player for the Seattle Seahawks, now works for Lone Rock Timber in Roseburg, Oregon as a Field Forester. He collaborates with tree-planters, helicopter pilots, and other company staff to maintain the health and improvement of tree plantations. This booklet provides other forest-sector employee profiles – forest manager, natural resource ecologist, research economist, logging crew, millwright – offering advice, short job-descriptions, and the various curves they took on their career path.

    pltintern

    pltintern

    Christine Song supports both Project Learning Tree (PLT) US and Canada's program delivery and reporting, program research, and communications. Christine holds a Master of Environmental Science from the University of Toronto and and a combined degree with a Bachelor of Science in ecology and zoology and a Bachelor of Science in anthropology from the University of Calgary.
  • NestWatch Citizen Science Project

    NestWatch is a nest-monitoring project developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in collaboration with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and funded by the National Science Foundation. Sign up with your classroom to become a certified NestWatcher and help track the status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds including nesting, eggs laid, eggs hatched, and hatching survival. Record your observations on the NestWatch App. Data collected through this citizen science project is intended to study bird populations and how they may be changing as a result of climate change, habitat loss, and the introduction of invasive species. You can even create your own nest box trails to monitor birds more closely. NestWatch’s new free resource for middle school educators, called Thinking Outside the (Nest) Box, can help educators anywhere in the country create nest box trails for birds on school grounds in order to provide habitat and project-based learning.

    Rachel Lang

    Rachel Lang

    Rachel Lang is Project Learning Tree's Manager of Education Products, overseeing PLT's IT infrastructure and contributing to the development of PreK-12 grade environmental education materials and new youth resources.
  • Imagine If

    Imagine If is a podcast on climate resilience. Developed by the National Association for Environmental Education and National GeographicImagine If interviews change-makers affecting positive change on the world. Imagine If features high school students designing solutions to environmental issues in their communities. Listen with your students and inspire them to become change-makers in their community!

    Rachel Lang

    Rachel Lang

    Rachel Lang is Project Learning Tree's Manager of Education Products, overseeing PLT's IT infrastructure and contributing to the development of PreK-12 grade environmental education materials and new youth resources.
  • Encyclopedia of Life Biodiversity Cards

    The Encyclopedia of Life is a biodiversity resource that collects and shares information about living things on earth from microorganisms, invertebrates, and trees. When you share observations on the iNaturalist app, scientists come together to properly identify the species. This live data becomes a part of the Encyclopedia of Life and is made into an EOL Biodiversity Card. You can collect or make your own by collecting data on species found in your community.

    Rachel Lang

    Rachel Lang

    Rachel Lang is Project Learning Tree's Manager of Education Products, overseeing PLT's IT infrastructure and contributing to the development of PreK-12 grade environmental education materials and new youth resources.
  • What Do Honey Bees Eat?

    For honey bees to produce honey, they consume pollen and nectar from a variety of flowers. Honey bees are attracted to gardens and fields that offer a variety of flowering vegetation. In addition, they need water. Kim Flottum, editor of the Bee Culture magazine, writes in his book The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden, “A summer colony needs at least a quart (liter) of water every day, and even more when it’s warm.” In this brief fact sheet, learn more about what bees need to survive and how a colony, its queen, workers bees, and drones, function together.

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle is Director of Communications & Marketing for Project Learning Tree.
  • A Guide to Setting up a Simple Backyard Compost System

    Composting is easy, especially if you are already working with your students on a school garden. A Guide to Setting up a Simple Backyard Compost System explains where to place it, what you can and can’t put in it, and the necessary steps you need to take to be successful to create “black gold.”

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle is Director of Communications & Marketing for Project Learning Tree.
  • Teaching About Conservation of Monarch Butterflies

    Many classroom teachers use the monarch butterfly to teach about life cycles. Unfortunately, in recent years North American monarch populations have been in decline. To help restore pollinator and monarch butterfly habitat, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has compiled a guide of the best-available resources for educators to use when teaching about monarch butterflies that align with academic standards. The resources include recommendations for curriculum and lesson plans; using live monarchs in the classroom; building pollinator gardens on school grounds; and citizen science opportunities for students. Download the guide, Teaching About the Magnificent Monarch.

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

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

    Teachers and students can use SeedSmart to find answers to basic questions about a site you might be wanting to restore. Some of these questions include: Which species are native here? What are the important soil characteristics I should know about? Which plants grow best in this setting? Which plants will be more likely to thrive under changing climatic conditions? The tool is compatible with any smartphone or browser and allows users to zoom in to their local ecosystem and determine the mix of native species that are best suited for a particular site. This first of its kind, all-in-one web application was developed by NatureServe, an international biodiversity conservation organization.

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle is Director of Communications & Marketing for Project Learning Tree.
  • Eco-Friendly Guide to Cleaning

    Did you know that indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outside air due to the accumulation of volatile organic compound (VOC) levels caused by chemical cleaning agents? Have students investigate the impact of common cleaning products on their environment, learn about “green cleaning,” and how to create their very own non-toxic cleaning products to use at home or in the classroom. The EP Cleaners’ Eco-Friendly Guide to Cleaning provides student with everything they need to start “green cleaning.”

    pipermlsna

    pipermlsna

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture School Garden Fact Sheet

    There are over 7,000 school gardens across the nation and you can have one at your own school! This fact sheet from USDA’s Farm to School program provides successful gardening examples and tips in PreK-12 school settings.

    Kaylin Lee

    Kaylin Lee

    Kaylin is Program Coordinator for Project Learning Tree.
  • NatureWorks Video Series

    Discover the natural world and the connections that make nature work in this 16-part video series for students in grades 3-6. Developed and produced by New Hampshire Public Television and the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, each episode is fifteen minutes long and helps students explore the ways living things interact with the environment. NatureWorks is designed to align with state and national science frameworks and standards and is a great way to introduce young people to the natural sciences.

    Each video consists of five distinct segments: an instructional section, which covers basic concepts like habitat, adaptation and biomes; an interactive Q&A segment that explores the show topics in greater detail; a close-up segment focusing on a particular animal or plant; an Outdoor Trek featuring student reports; and a review which sums up material presented in the program.

    Kaylin Lee

    Kaylin Lee

    Kaylin is Program Coordinator for Project Learning Tree.
  • Farm Academy Live

    Farm Academy TV provides students with a virtual field trip to an agricultural destination. The 45-60 minute lessons are taught by a Farm Academy Live teacher via a free video conferencing program. Students get to witness agricultural production and processing methods they may never be able to experience otherwise, learn about where their food and fiber comes from, and meet the farmers who produce the products they have grown to love. Raw products are sent directly into the classroom for the students to physically touch and see.

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle is Director of Communications & Marketing for Project Learning Tree.
  • Greening Communities with PLT GreenSchools Guide

    Based on the success of 11 schools in the East End of Houston who participated in a community-wide GreenSchools project, Project Learning Tree’s Greening Communities with PLT GreenSchools guide offers advice for schools interested in joining together on projects that benefit their whole community. It includes advice for starting tree‐planting and gardening projects, as well as tips for engaging diverse stakeholders, establishing local partnerships, and assembling a community advisory team. The results clearly show how students, if they are given responsibility and the opportunity to lead, will rise to the challenge and succeed. Download the PDF.

    Haley Herbst

    Haley Herbst

  • Funding for Greener Schools

    Have you thought about trying crowdfunding to help get a GreenSchools project off the ground? Or reaching out to your community to find advocates and volunteers? The ioby (in our back yards) crowd-resourcing platform can connect you with funding and support. Whether it’s updating your school garden, adding a cafeteria composting program, or teaching students about renewables, crowdfunding can be an effective tool for getting more parents and neighbors invested in your green school work. Anyone with a great idea for their community can collect tax-deductible donations, find volunteers, and access one-on-one customized fundraising coaching on ioby.org. This national nonprofit crowdfunding platform is designed for projects that make schools and neighborhoods more sustainable, healthy, connected and livable.

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle is Director of Communications & Marketing for Project Learning Tree.
  • Garden Education Resources

    The USDA Team Nutrition website contains a comprehensive list of resources for early childhood educators looking to promote better nutrition through gardening. The resources include activity kits, lesson plans, a fact sheet, videos, and a farm and garden online training. All resources were produced by reputable universities and organizations with the common goal of forming healthy habits amongst pre-school age students.

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle is Director of Communications & Marketing for Project Learning Tree.
  • Sustainability in Schools Simulation Game

    Looking for ways to bring sustainability projects to your school? Use the Sustainability in Schools Game with your middle and high school students to explore the cost-benefits. The game includes 45 cards covering a range of sustainability projects that could be implemented in your own school, along with video instructions and critical thinking questions to get your students thinking.

    New North

    New North

  • School Gardens Fact Sheet

    This USDA resource titled School Gardens: Using Gardens to Grow Healthy Habits in Cafeterias, Classrooms, and Communities provides a brief overview of the benefits and educational uses of school gardens. It includes links to successful school garden programs and tips for planning, staffing, funding and maintaining a school garden.

    New North

    New North

  • I’ve Got You Covered: The Amount of Pavement Covered by Street Trees

    This issue of the science education journal Natural Inquirer, aimed at middle school students, describes how trees in our communities benefit our daily lives.

    New North

    New North

  • Urban Tree Canopy

    This website provides information on the importance of urban tree canopy and explains how to set goals for canopy cover. It was developed through a partnership of the Center for Watershed Protection and the U.S. Forest Service – Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry.

    New North

    New North

  • Arbor Day Foundation

    The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees that provides resources to encourage tree planting and tree care.

    New North

    New North

  • Urban and Community Forestry Appreciation Tool Kit

    This is a free online toolkit provided by the U.S. Forest Service Northeastern Area. The toolkit was developed to promote urban and community forestry as a crucial component of livability in communities. It includes a printable fact sheet on the Top 10 reasons we need trees.

    New North

    New North

  • U.S. Forest Service

    The U.S. Forest Service website provides information on choosing and planting trees, caring for trees, benefits of trees, and more.  This is a great general resource that can provide background information for almost every forest topic. 

    New North

    New North

  • 10 Plants for Bird-Friendly Yards

    Create a bird-friendly landscape with this website provides information on plantings that both attract and feed birds.

    New North

    New North

  • Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide

    This U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service initiative helps teachers and students create wildlife habitats at their schools. The Guide offers teaching and learning opportunities in many discipline areas and provides opportunities for long-term data collection. In addition, schools and organizations serving K–12 students may apply for grants of up to $8,000.

    New North

    New North

  • Kids Gardening

    Kids Gardening is a resource of the National Gardening Association that provides information and activities on gardening with kids at home and at school.

    New North

    New North

  • MonarchLIVE

    MonarchLIVE is a distance-learning program designed to meet national science standards and to promote conservation action through education and awareness. The program provides educational materials on monarch butterfly biology and help schools and classrooms develop butterfly gardens and schoolyard habitats.

    New North

    New North

  • NWF Garden for Wildlife

    This National Wildlife Federation website provides information on gardening to attract and support wildlife.

    New North

    New North

  • PollinatorLIVE

    PollinatorLive provides webinars, webcasts, and online education resources about pollinators.

    New North

    New North

  • USDA People’s Garden

    Gardening resources, grant information, and seasonal tips are available at the U.S. Department of Agriculture People’s Garden website.

    New North

    New North

  • USDA National Invasive Species Information Center

    This website provides information on invasive species and links to additional resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    New North

    New North

  • What Is an Invasive Species?

    This U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website provides information and resources on invasive species.

    New North

    New North

  • “Bee” a Friend to Pollinators

    This PollinatorLIVE video highlights a Texas high school’s success in creating a pollinator garden. They also showcase the benefits of “bee”ing a friend to pollinators and provide tips on how your school can too.

    New North

    New North

  • Gardening for Pollinators

    Follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s simple steps to create a pollinator-friendly landscape around your school, home, or workplace.

    New North

    New North

  • Pollinators

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s page provides extensive resources about pollinators, including videos, links, guides, and databases, all aimed at supporting pollinator diversity and abundance.

    New North

    New North

  • Using Native Plants in Your Garden

    This PollinatorLIVE video demonstrates why it is important to plant native species in your garden.

    New North

    New North

  • Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

    Read The Xerces Society’s website to learn their three main tips for enhancing pollinators in your garden. Their site also offers resources regarding extended information about conserving pollinators, attracting native pollinators, and more.

    New North

    New North

  • How to Grow a School Forest

    This handbook was developed by the Wisconsin Forest Education Alliance for Wisconsin educators, but the information within is applicable to many states.

    New North

    New North

  • School Forests in Minnesota

    This website from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources outlines the benefits of school forests and how to start, maintain, and use a school forest as an outdoor learning environment for your school. (The program itself is available only to Minnesota schools.)

    New North

    New North

  • Discover the Forest

    A program of the Ad Council and U.S. Forest Service, Discover the Forest offers resources that help families discover nearby forests and provides tips on how to prepare for and enjoy outdoor adventures.

    New North

    New North

  • Citizen Science Programs

    Project BudBurst is a network of people across the United States who monitor plants as seasons change. Use Project Learning Tree activities to get your students outside, and use Project BudBurst to help them see how their seasonal observations about plants compare to those being made all across the country. In addition to collecting scientifically useful data such as first leafing, first flower, and first fruit, students will understand the impacts of changing climates on plants and their phenology. Project Learning Tree and Project BudBurst have partnered to introduce students to citizen science as the observations and data needed for Project BudBurst are an easy addition to PLT’s GreenSchools School Site Investigation, as well as many other PLT PreK-8 activities, especially “Bursting Buds,” “Looking At Leaves,” and “Signs of Fall.”  

    Project FeederWatch encourages students to periodically count the birds they see at feeders in their schoolyard, backyard, or other locations from November through early April and to send their counts to Project FeederWatch. Project FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

    FrogWatch USA, the citizen science program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, encourages citizens to help conserve amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads. Ongoing analyses of these data have been used to help develop practical strategies for amphibian conservation.

    The USA National Phenology Network brings together citizen scientists, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators, and students to monitor the effects of climate change on plants and animals in the United States. This website includes a variety of educational materials and lesson plans.

    New North

    New North

  • i-Tree Design

    The U.S. Forest Service’s i-tree Tree Benefit Calculator allows you to estimate the benefits of trees on your school grounds or in your community.

    New North

    New North

  • Farm to School Program

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture supports efforts for schools to source local or regionally produced foods and provides resources that can assist the creation and longevity of “farm to school” programs for students that emphasize food, farming, and nutrition. The site also offers research, training, technical assistance, and grant opportunities.

    New North

    New North

  • Know Your Farmer/Know Your Food

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture has responded to the growing interest in local and regional foods through the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (KYF2). Their mission is to support the critical connection between farmers and consumers and to strengthen the USDA’s support for local and regional food systems.

    New North

    New North

  • FS NatureLIVE

    This video from the U.S. Forest Service’s ClimateChangeLIVE program, aimed at young people, describes how composting can be a part of the solution to climate change.

    New North

    New North

  • Job Corps Green Jobs

    A “Green Jobs” curriculum and activity guide funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Job Corps Office, and the Conservation Education Program.

     

    New North

    New North

  • Botany on Your Plate

    K-4 students explore edible plants in this interdisciplinary life science unit developed by the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Teachers can access supporting resources online. Explore ideas for dissecting plant seeds, observing plant embryos, and organizing observations using diagrams. 

    plttempstaff

    plttempstaff

  • Tips for Taking Students Outside

    Friends of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center has put together some short, simple, and practical recommendations to help effectively incorporate use of an outdoor classroom. Suggestions include finding an experienced mentor, scheduling a set time for taking students outdoors, and examining learning standards to see what are best taught outside.

    plttempstaff

    plttempstaff

  • iNaturalist

    iNaturalist is a species identification app that allows users to record their observations of living things by way of taking photos and appending GPS coordinates to their discoveries. Each user has their own profile and can follow others to keep a tab of what others are posting, or share what they have photographed. The app also facilitates connections with thousands of scientists to help users identify the species they have observed.

    Another exciting aspect of iNaturalist is that users can contribute their photos and data and participate in a number of citizen science projects. You can find a list of some of these projects here or click on “find your location” using this map to see the observations in your area. You can also develop your own for your school or local community!

    plttempstaff

    plttempstaff

  • Think Garden Video Series

    This Think Garden video collection was produced by Kentucky Educational Television for elementary students as a teaching tool about growing food and all elements around food gardening. Consider using it to support PLT GreenWorks! or GreenSchools projects as we enter the growing season.

    plttempstaff

    plttempstaff

  • LeafSnap

    Leafsnap is a free app that can be downloaded onto Apple and Android devices. Leafsnap uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from individual leaf photographs you take in the field. This application contains high-resolution images of bark, flowers, fruit, seeds, and more. Currently Leafsnap specializes in tree species found in the Northeastern United States, but expansion to include all US regions is underway.

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle

    Vanessa Bullwinkle is Director of Communications & Marketing for Project Learning Tree.
  • School Garden Checklist

    Planning to start a garden project? Download this step-by-step guide, provided by the Let’s Move! Presidential initiative, to ensure you won’t miss any information that could support the health of your garden. Detailed checklists offer tips about soil safety, site selection, overall design, plant palette, how to build and use the garden, and the importance of creating local partnerships and utilizing local resources.

    plttempstaff

    plttempstaff