Logo for Tree Trails 

    Tree Trails is a conservation education project celebrating trees...

         ...in the real world                                
    TTstudent                                               and online!     

    The project creates an education trail focused on trees. Students actively participate in selecting trees, mapping and identifying those trees, and then immersing themselves in related topics like tree structure and function, benefits of trees, tree health, history of famous trees, and ultimately producing and participating in a service learning experience.  

    Tree Trails serves schools in the digital age with a high-tech online, easy-to-use, educationally sound project that gets kids outside and active in the environment. Tree Trails includes 10 lesson modules and provides a research-based instructional approach that integrates language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, technology and state testing measures, STAAR/TEKS, with online and outdoor activities to create learning forests at schools.

    Tree Trails curriculum materials and resources were developed by Texas A&M Forest Service in cooperation with Texas Urban Forestry Council and was supported by grants from the USDA Forest Service and Keep America Beautiful.

    TFS        TUFC        USFS        KAB


    Download a Flyer or the Overview


     + Getting Started for Teachers

    We're glad you're adding Tree Trails to your student's learning experiences. We want kids to get outside to learn about forests and trees and their uses, values and benefits. We combine classroom digital media and internet technology with outdoor learning opportunities. Find tips and information to help you add a Tree Trail on your campus.

    Read more >
     + Individual and Community Group Guide for creating a Tree Trail

    Texas A&M Forest Service wants to get youth, individuals and community groups outside to learn about forests and trees and their uses, values, and benefits. By creating a Tree Trail, you can help celebrate trees in your neighborhood and community.

    We have compiled an online guide to help individuals and groups not associated with schools.

    Read more >

     + Lesson Modules and Resources

    Lesson modules using urban forestry education goals guide educators and students in creating and incorporating a Tree Trail in their program. The goals move students through choosing trees, identifying and measuring their trees, using the trail to investigate other forestry topics, then designing and conducting a service learning project. 

    Tree Trails offers a place-based learning experience and modules follow the 5 E instructional model. 

    An Elementary or Secondary set of modules with the lessons, resource pages, and internet links is available.


     + Project Learning Tree Correlations

    Project Learning Tree offers another set of curriculum resources in developing your Tree Trail. We have suggested PLT activities to use for each Tree Trails Lesson Module. If you have additional suggestions, please email those to us.TPLT logo

    If you are not already PLT certified, please visit the Texas PLT website for upcoming workshops.

    Download the Project Learning Tree Correlations (PDF, 172 KB)


    One: Map a Tree Trail

    By understanding maps, students get a sense of where they are in relation to their home, school and neighborhood. Trees are often important landmarks along the way.
    Goal: Students will select a minimum of three trees for the Tree Trail.
    PLT Connection: 21 Adopt a Tree

    Two: Tree Identification

    Tree identification is a critical first step towards an understanding of ‘diversity.’ By learning the names of trees, we come to appreciate them.
    Goal: Students will identify their trail trees and explain how identification relates to tree knowledge.
    PLT Connection: 5 Poet-Tree, 64 Looking at Leaves, 68 Name that Tree

    Three: Tree Measurement

    Tree measurement is fundamental to the practice of forestry. Foresters count trees and measure trees. With just a few basic measurements, we can assign values to trees and compare them to each other.
    Goal: Students will measure trees and explain how measurement is used to place value on trees and forests.
    PLT Connection: 67 How Big Is Your Tree?

    Four: Tree Structure and Function

    Trees are living organisms with many specialized structures – leaves, roots, wood, and the living cells that connect them. Understanding how trees are constructed and grow is essential to care for trees and calculate the benefits that trees provide.
    Goal: Students will explain the structure and function of tree parts.
    PLT Connection: 63 Tree Factory, 76 Tree Cookies, 79 Tree Lifecycle

    Five: Benefits and Values of Trees

    Advances in the science of urban forestry allow us to assign monetary values to a wide range of benefits that trees in urban areas provide. As trees grow, these values rise – the only part of the built environment of our cities that does so!
    Goal: Students will determine the benefits of trees and calculate their value.
    PLT Connection: 13 We All Need Trees, 30 Three Cheers for Trees!, 32 A Forest of Many Uses

    Six: Diversity of Species and Ecosystems

    Promoting ‘diversity’ is a basic principle of urban forestry. A diverse forest implies a more resilient forest, since disease or insect outbreaks likely won’t affect every tree all at once.
    Goal: Students will evaluate how the diversity of species affects the ecosystem.
    PLT Connection: 10 Charting Diversity

    Seven: Tree and Forest Health

    History has shown us the risk of planting too many of the same species in the urban forest. Cities and forests have lost many millions of trees to foreign or species-specific diseases and insect pests. Exotic tree species can sometimes invade our forest landscapes and crowd out native species.
    Goal: Students will demonstrate ways to keep trees and forests healthy.
    PLT Connection: 12 Invasive Species

    Eight: Tree History

    Trees fascinate us because the oldest among them span many human generations. Trees can be a living link to our past, or may be planted by the current generation as memorials to important events or people in the community.
    Goal: Students will research the history of a tree(s) and make connections to the past.
    PLT Connection: 95 Did You Notice?

    Nine: Urban Forestry

    The trees around us – those that make up the ‘urban forest’ – are a reflection of the community itself. Cities often organize the protection, planting and care of trees in public spaces, through a Tree Board or other volunteer group. Tree City USA is one symbol of a community that cares about its trees.
    Goal: Students will create a Campus Tree Trail Care Plan.
    PLT Connection: 54 I’d Like to Visit a Place Where…, 74 People, Places, Things

    Ten: Student Service Leader

    Arbor Day is the celebration of trees where we live, work, learn and play. Communities set aside one day each year to plant and care for trees, usually on public property, such as a school or park. Students can provide the leadership for a project to plant or care for trees – either on school grounds or in the surrounding community.
    Goal: Students will design and conduct a service learning project.
    PLT Connection: 31 Plant a Tree, 34 Who Works in this Forest?, 60 Publicize It!, 96 Improve Your Place


     + Map Your Trail

    Use the Tree Trails application on the Texas Forest Information Portal to map your trail.

     + Project Field Test with Teachers

    The Tree Trails Project Field Test intent was to test 10 modules in the fifth-grade classrooms that represent the state's diverse school population. The teacher commitment required each class to complete 10 lesson modules, including the pretest and posttest evaluation and teacher surveys. Additional data collected and analyzed included interviews, classroom anecdotes and other formative and summative evaluation instruments.


    Read the full report here. (pdf, 2MB)


    The goal of Tree Trails - to create learning forests in schools - was achieved in the selected classrooms. Tree Trails served schools with an online program that is time efficient, cost effective, supported by scientific research, and aligned with the Texas Education Association's state standards. The Tree Trails objectives were achieved.

    Additionally, students' formative and summative evaluations indicate how much they enjoyed their Tree Trails experiences and how much knowledge they gained about trees and caring for and enhancing their environment. Higher level learning engagement is evidenced by application of Bloom's Taxonomy in the student end products and within the learning activities. Examples of engagement are research and investigation of learning as in "tree detectives," analysis of tree conditions and evaluation of their tree cookies. Students' successes show a positive overall final evaluation of Tree Trails and complete the purposes of the Tree Trails Project Field Test. 


    Student Responses: 

    It was different - we did not do anything like this last year.
    I want to come back from high school to see my tree.
    It was fun learning how to do things on the computer - id the tree, make the trail.
    I got to see a new side of trees.
    I liked when Matt Weaver came out and told us how the lawn mowers are cutting into our trees and damaging them. I wrote a letter persuading them to stop. 


    Teacher Responses: 

    My students loved being outdoors.  They enjoyed learning about their tree and how it benefits their environment.
    I can see this being used in parts of 5th grade if you have a very energetic teacher that shares the same beliefs as I do.
    I think the use of the Tree Trails Project is a fun way to educate our students about the natural world. Our 21st century learners need this type of curriculum to balance their technology skills and help them to understand concepts of our natural world that is not necessarily taught in the classroom.
    Participating fifth-grade classrooms included one from Houston ISD, three from Clear Creek ISD, one from University of Houston Charter School, and one from First Baptist Christian Academy. One eighth-grade school participated from East Chambers ISD.  We want to thank these teachers for their effort and dedication to assist us in this field test.



     + Contact
    If you have any questions about implementing Tree Trails in your classroom or community, please contact us.