Little Trees

Play, explore, discover, and learn in our nine-month nature-based early-childhood program.

Content Detail

Nature-based Early Learning Program (3–5 years old)

Take advantage of the Arboretum’s extensive outdoor collections and programming resources to immerse children in a variety of outdoor exploratory experiences in a stimulating, rewarding environment. This program allows children the opportunity to explore nature throughout the changing seasons, all while developing cross-curricular skills that fall under the academic domains noted in the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Physical Development and Health, The Arts, and Social/Emotional Development. Children will grow strong alongside the trees here at The Morton Arboretum!

The mission of Little Trees is to help young children develop a deep and meaningful relationship with nature through outdoor play and child-directed discovery, creating a foundation for a lifetime of stewardship working towards a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world.

Now enrolling for the 2021-2022 season!

  • Roots Class (3-yr-olds): Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Saplings Class (4-yr-olds): Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Trees Class (mixed ages 4- and 5-yr-olds): Mondays through Thursdays, 12:30 to 3:00 p.m.

Room to Explore

The Morton Arboretum provides an unparalleled location for nature-based learning. Children will discover the wonder and beauty found within the Arboretum’s 1,700 acres. Situated on the rolling Valparaiso moraine and bisected by the East Branch of the DuPage River, the Arboretum is home to forests, creeks, savannahs, prairies, and lakes, all of which provide a rich natural environment for exploration and learning. Experienced instructors trained in nature-based education will share their enthusiasm for the natural world with the children on their daily explorations through the varied environments. During outdoor exploration, children frequently have the opportunity to observe native wildlife, including white-tailed deer, red-eared sliders, sunfish, bullfrogs, red-tailed hawks, monarch butterflies, and hundreds more. Our quaint classroom, tucked inside the historic Thornhill Education Center, will serve as our home base and provide space for learning stations, dramatic play, art, reading, writing, blocks, and science experiments.


Fee is per child. This program is exclusive to Arboretum members. Sessions run from September 7, 2021 to May 13, 2022. Limit 10 children per session. Tuition is paid in 5 installments – 1 deposit for 10% of tuition at time of registration and 4 quarterly payments of 22.5% each.

  • Roots Class (3-yr-olds): Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. (must be 3 by September 1, 2021) $3,200
  • Saplings Class (4-yr-olds): Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. (must be 4 by September 1, 2021) $4,500
  • Trees Class (mixed ages 4-5): Mondays through Thursdays, 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. (must be 4 by September 1, 2021) $5,600

Enrollment Deposit

A 10 percent nonrefundable deposit is required to secure space in the program. The remaining four payments are each 22.5% of the tuition. These deposits both ensure space is reserved for each child, and help our staff track the size of each class leading up to the registration. The deposit will be refunded if The Morton Arboretum cancels the program for any reason.

Refund and Cancelation Policy

Fees are nonrefundable and nontransferable. A full refund will be issued in the event that The Morton Arboretum cancels a class section for any reason. Refunds will be issued by check if the original payment was made by cash or check; or by credit to the same credit card used to make the original payment.