Programs

Pre-K to Kindergarten Field Trips

Content Detail

Guided adventures are available during the spring and fall school seasons.

  • Pre-K and Kindergarten programs are 1.25 hours and designed for students ages 4 to 5.
  • Morning programs are scheduled Monday through Friday, 9:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  • Afternoon programs are scheduled Monday through Friday, 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • For a full-day option, pair two half-day programs together.
  • Field Trip Bundles are available here

Visit the Plan Your Field Trip webpage to help you and your classroom prepare.

Trees In A Nutshell

1.25 hours | 180 students

Nature detectives hit the trail to uncover the life cycle of trees through games, role play, and guided observation. Students investigate seeds, saplings, adult trees, and fallen logs. Connections are made between fallen logs and soil production to bring the amazing cycle full circle.

  • This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards and Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:

    • K-ESS3-1: Interdependence among plants, animals, and their environment
    • K-LS1-1: Survival
    • 12.A.ECa: Observe, investigate, describe, and categorize
    • 12.B.ECa: Needs of living things

    Field trip bundles are available here.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Sensing Nature

1.25 hours | 180 students

Animals, including humans, use more than their eyes to learn and survive in nature. In this hands-on program, students discover how all five senses can be used to explore nature. Discover shapes and textures in nature, and the various ways color and scent are used by trees.

  • This program emphasizes the following Next Generation Science Standards and Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:

    • K-LS1-1: Survival
    • 9.A.ECa and 9.A.ECb: Shapes
    • 12.A.ECa: Observe, investigate, describe, and categorize living things
    • 23.A.ECa: Senses (body parts and functions)

    Field trip bundles are available here.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Leave No Child Inside

1.25 hours | 180 students

A growing body of research is telling us that unstructured time spent outdoors in nature is critical to children's physical, social, and emotional development. Such outdoor experiences can foster creativity, emotional well-being, independent learning, and problem-solving. The beauty of the Arboretum changes daily, and students will have an opportunity to explore whatever is most interesting on the day of your visit. One of the Arboretum's guides will be on hand to answer questions and guide students to exciting observations, but the focus is on the exploration of nature.

  • This program is not meant to address any specific Next Generation Science Standards or Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards.

    Field trip bundles are available here.

  • Half day:
    $8 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Self-guided adventures are available year-round and can be scheduled Monday through Friday during open hours.

To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

Children's Garden

Self-paced | 400 students

The Children's Garden is an enclosed four-acre garden designed to spark curiosity about trees and the natural world as children play. The Children's Garden provides a self-guided option for students in kindergarten through third grade only. Registered school groups in grades pre-K to third grade can also reserve explorer backpacks to enhance their educational experience. Register one pack for every 10 students. (Backpacks are limited for groups of 200 or less.)

  • Potential to address the following Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:

    • 11A: Observation and scientific questions
    • 12A: Characteristics of living things

    Potential to address the following Next Generation Science Standards:

    • K-2-ETS1-1: Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change, or define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool. 
    • K-LS1-1: Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive. 
    • 1-LS1-1: Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs. 
    • 2-LS2-1: Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow.
    • 2-LS2-2: Develop a simple model that mimics the functions of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants. 
    • 2-LS4-1: Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.  

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $6 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Woodlands, Wetlands, and Prairies

Self-paced | 180 students

Make discoveries on your own while exploring the Arboretum’s woodlands, wetlands, and prairies (no support materials provided). Below are some suggested itineraries that take up to approximately 90 minutes. These options may include interpretive trail signs.

East Side: Starting at Parking Area P-8, walk the “Joined Loops 3 and 4 Trail” to Big Rock Visitor Station. Continue on the Woodland Trail to Big Rock. For a longer experience, walk the long way around the Heritage Trail back to the Big Rock Visitor Station.

West Side: Starting at the Prairie Visitor Station (Parking Area P-25), walk the Prairie Trail loop to Parking Area P-30. For a longer experience, walk to the nearby Millennium Oak.

  • This program is not meant to address any specific Next Generation Science Standards or Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards.

    To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

  • Half day:
    $6 per student
    $15 registration fee
    Full day (paired with another program, see Fees and Policies):
    $12 per student
    $30 registration fee

Fees and Policies

Half-day trip fees:

  • One guided adventure (1.5 hours): $8 per student, $15 registration fee
  • Self-guided adventure: $6 per student, $15 registration fee

Full-day field trip fees:

  • One guided adventure (3.0 hours): $12 per student, $30 registration fee 
  • Two guided adventures (3.0 hours): $12 per student, $30 registration fee 
  • One guided adventure (1.5 hours), plus self-guided adventure: $12 per student, $30 registration fee 
  • One self-guided adventure: $6 per student, $15 registration fee

Registration details:

  • Registration must be completed three weeks prior to field trip date.
  • Dates are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis, so early registration is strongly encouraged.
  • Adult chaperones are required (three adults/teachers for every 20 students).
  • There is a minimum of 15 students for guided and self-guided field trips.
  • Payment is due three weeks before the date of the field trip. Call the registrar to process payment at 630-719-2468, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Fees include admission to the Arboretum for:

  • All registered and attending students
  • All registered and attending adult chaperones (three adults/teachers for every 20 students)
  • State required aides

Aligned Activities and More

To access vocabulary, activities, teacher guides, and more, register here to enroll in our Field Trip Bundles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you offering half-day and full-day field trips?

Yes. Self-guided field trips can be booked between 7:00 a.m. and sunset. Our guided programs adhere to the following schedule:

  • Full-Day Guided Field Trips: 9:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
  • Morning Half-Day Guided Field Trips: 9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
  • Afternoon Half-Day Guided Field Trips: 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Will we be able to eat lunch during our field trip?

Yes. Our lunch location is outdoors, at either picnic tables or picnic-style on the lawn at either Meadow Lake Picnic Area or the Thornhill Picnic Area. Lunch spaces for self-guided groups at Meadow Lake Picnic Area are not reserved and are first-come, first-served. Lunch spaces at Thornhill Picnic Area are reserved only for guided programs; schools will be assigned table space based on their group size and availability. Groups may also be provided with tarps to lunch on the lawn surrounding Thornhill. For questions, please contact Meghan Wiesbrock (mwiesbrock@mortonarb.org) or Megan Kuhl-Horbin (mkuhl-horbin@mortonarb.org).

How many students can participate in our field trip?

Capacities are put on our field trip programs based on availability and supplies. Please visit our website to identify the capacities of each field trip program. Typically, our self-guided programs have a limit of 200 students and our self-guided backpacks have a limit of 100-200 students. If you want to bring more students than the capacity limits allow, you would have to plan on coming to the Arboretum over the course of two or more days.

Are bathrooms available during the field trip?

Depending on where your field trip will take place, port-o-potties with handwashing stations or indoor bathrooms will be available.

Can my class just participate in a lab program on their field trip?

Lab programs are part of a full-day, guided field trip and must be paired with a field program.

How many chaperones can I bring?

Field trip groups are allotted three free teacher/adult chaperones per 20 students (i.e. bringing 21 students would allot six free teacher/adult chaperones). State-required aides are free, but must be identified in the registration form. Extra adults/chaperones are $16 each.

What can my students do on a self-guided field trip?

Students explore the Arboretum at their own pace. Educators can also access videos and downloadable activities in our Field Trip Bundle to better prepare for their field trip.

What happens if it rains on the day of my field trip?

Field trips are not canceled due to weather; our programs run rain or shine. Indoor locations are not reserved for self-guided field trip programs. If rain is in the forecast, we encourage our visitors to wear appropriate clothing: waterproof shoes, rain jackets, and poncho. We discourage the use of umbrellas as they become a safety hazard with low-hanging branches on our wood-chip trails.

The Arboretum security rangers watch the radars closely. If lightning is a threat, or the rain is torrential, the students on guided programs will be given modified programs in a thunderstorm-safe location such as the Thornhill Education Center, the Thornhill Picnic Shelter, or the school bus. Lightning will cause the Children’s Garden to close until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.

What is the cancellation policy for my field trip?

Programs will run as scheduled to be outdoors during seasonal weather: rain, snow, and cold. Please dress accordingly. The registration fee is non-refundable. The program fees are refundable for cancellations made three or more weeks before the program date. No refunds will be given for cancellations or changes made fewer than 21 days before the program date, for changes in headcount, or for absent children. Payment for the field trip is due three weeks prior to the field trip date.

I teach at a Title I school, can you waive admission or give us a discount? 

The Arboretum offers a Youth Science Education Outreach Grant to schools serving 40% or more low-income families, according to the Illinois Report ard. Grant applications open in late May or early June and are first-come, first-served. For inquiries, please email mkuhl-horbin@mortonarb.org.

Can we come to the Arboretum early (before our scheduled field trip start time) or stay late (after our scheduled field trip end time) and just hang out and explore?

Due to the volume of students and visitors on any given day, it is recommended that you arrive at your scheduled arrival time so we can best accommodate your group.

Can we order box lunches/have food delivered on our field trip?

You cannot have food delivered to the Arboretum. Teachers and students are encouraged to bring their own brown bag lunch from home. At this time, the Arboretum is unable to offer box lunch options from its exclusive caterer, Ginkgo Catering.

Are masks required for field trip participants?

The Morton Arboretum follows State of Illinois COVID-19 guidelines. According to these guidelines, masks are not currently required for participation in our field trip programs and are optional in all Arboretum buildings. If these guidelines change, you will be notified in advance of your visit. Should any field trip participant feel more comfortable wearing a mask, they are welcome to do so.

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