Field Studies for Children

Field Study Experiences for Grades 3 to 6

students enjoying their field study experience

Volunteer to lead a group

The Arboretum offers seasonal school programs for students in grades 3 to 6. These two-hour programs are designed to encourage the investigation of plant science in the meadows and woodlands of the Arnold Arboretum. Lessons that begin in the classroom can be explored and enlarged through these outdoor learning adventures.

The programs emphasize student inquiry and direct interaction with natural phenomena. Students work in small groups with a volunteer guide to explore and discuss science-oriented questions. Pre- and post-visit materials help teachers plan a challenging learning opportunity.

  • Classes of 15 to 50 students are invited to pre-register.
  • Fee is $4.00 per child for non-Boston schools. Children from Boston
    schools, the Arboretum’s home community, are served free of charge. The Field Study program is available only to schools in the Metro-Boston area, defined as schools residing within the I-95/Route 128 beltway.
  • Programs take place from 10:00am to noon, on weekdays only.
  • Spring programs run from April through June; fall programs run from September through November. Note that all programs are filled for spring 2015, but we are taking reservations for fall 2015; please contact Nancy Sableski, Manager of Children’s Education.

To learn about opportunities for groups other than grades 3 to 6, see For Teachers.



Flowers Change
Grades 3 to 6

Students look closely at the development of a flower as it changes from flower to fruit. They practice looking for the parts of the flower that make seed production possible, in particular the male part that holds the pollen, and the female part where pollen is received and seed production takes place. Using the rich variety of flowers and developing fruits found on Arboretum plants, students discover the stages of a flower’s transformation. The pre-visit activity asks students to dissect and draw a flower. The post-visit activity asks them to continue their exploration of the development of flowers into fruit in their schoolyard and neighborhood.

Spring & Fall

Native Trees, Native Peoples
Grades 3 to 6

For many years, native peoples of the Eastern Woodlands lived on the land that is now the Arnold Arboretum. In this field study, students learn to identify the trees that supported a culture. Using clues, students first seek out the trees and then create a collection of plant materials, drawings, and written descriptions of each species. Students look carefully at the characteristics of specific trees and use their observations to determine what makes one kind of tree different from another. This program takes place entirely outdoors.


Plants in Autumn
Grades 3 to 6

Students focus on the fall phenomenon of seed dispersal and the strategies that plants use to distribute their seeds, examining the structure of the seed package for evidence of this strategy. Exploring the grounds of the Arboretum, students assemble a seed collection and group their findings into two categories: seeds that travel by wind and seeds that travel via animals. A post-visit activity supports a variety of uses for this seed collection.