Children’s Education

Children’s Education

Cultivating young scientists through hands-on exploration in Boston’s landscape for learning


School Programs

To help fulfill its educational mission, the Arnold Arboretum offers nature programs with a focus on plant science to preschool and elementary children and their teachers. It also conducts an annual horticultural practicum for students from Norfolk County Agricultural High School.

School Programs began at the Arboretum in 1984 in response to a request to local museums from Boston Public Schools for help with science instruction. This need continues today as science remains an important element in the overall education of elementary school students.

Through its unique relationship with the City of Boston, the Arboretum has been increasingly committed to improving local science education. The programs emphasize depth over breadth, and consequently field study programs are offered to approximately 1,500 students annually. In a small group setting that emphasizes inquiry and hands-on learning, students receive increased attention with a well-trained volunteer as their guide through the landscape.

For more information, call 617.384.5239 or send a query by email.


Field Study Experiences

School teachers bring their students to the Arnold Arboretum for a guided science study of plants and animals, using the natural landscape as their classroom. Please contact the Manager of Children’s Education at 617.384.5239, or email Nancy Sableski

Self-Guided School Groups

School teachers bring their students to the Arnold Arboretum independently. Teachers provide own chaperones and materials. Alternatively, working with an Arboretum educator, teachers can design experiences that fit their needs and curricular goals. Please contact the Children’s Education Fellow at 617.384.9032, or email Ana Maria Caballero

Professional Development for Teachers

The Arboretum provides opportunities for educators to learn about specific, hands-on life science topics that complement science and literacy curriculum in the Boston Public Schools.

  • The Arboretum for Educators Monthly Explorations Join us on the first Saturday of each month for a 2 1/2-hour outdoor/indoor investigation of seasonal natural phenomena and hands-on life science activities.  View 2016-2017 topics [pdf]
  • The Arnold Arboretum Summer Institute 2017: Build a Plant Bottom to Top. PreK through Grade 5 teachers from the Boston Public Schools and other area systems gather at the Arboretum for an intensive four day seminar on plant morphology – the study of tree form and function. Guest lecturers provide content, and education staff provide context using the outdoors.  One hundred percent of last year’s attendees would recommend this Institute to fellow educators.


In cooperation with Harvard University, the Arnold Arboretum has formed various partnerships with the local community, neighboring Boston Public Schools, and schools of higher learning.

Head Start Initiative

Training, programs, and bus transportation have been provided to nearby Boston Head Start centers to introduce the Arboretum as a local resource for learning about the natural world for children from low-income families, their parents, and their teachers.