School Programs

Canopy’s K-12 education programs provide hands-on, outdoor activities that spark kids’ curiosity about trees and nature. 

PINE Lesson_Geoff PaulsenThe programs are part of our Healthy Trees, Healthy Kids! initiative, a multi-year project that creates greener school campuses and brings nature education into underserved communities in southern San Mateo county.

Each interactive lesson helps students explore, understand, and appreciate the forest in their backyard. Urban trees take on a whole new status – one that impacts their daily lives.

Our unique curriculum was developed by education professionals specializing in experiential learning. The material for each grade level aligns with learning goals from the California State Standards, Common Core principles, and Next Generation Science Standards. Lessons are delivered by trained Canopy staff and volunteers who are passionate about inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders.


Interactive Education Modules

Under the Tree Book Reading (Kindergarten – 2nd grade)

In this 60-minute outdoor lesson, students sit under a mature tree on their campus for a book reading and group discussion, learning tree anatomy and the benefits of trees. The reading is followed by an art project, creative writing, or counting activity, depending on the grade level.

Sense-sational Tree Walk (Kindergarten – 3rd grade)

This 60-minute tree walk lesson inspires the four senses (touch, sound, smell, and sight) as students learn about neighborhood trees and their benefits. Students explore trees on their campus, scouting for specimens that have strong sensory attributes. What does the bark feel like? What do the leaves smell like? What animals can you hear, or colors do you see? Students also practice mindfulness and silence around trees, learning to attune themselves to the environment around them.

Planting Trees is Fun (3rd – 5th grade)

This 75-minute lesson involves a class rotation between three education stations with hands-on activities guided by adult volunteers. The lesson culminates with students working together to plant one or two trees on their school campus. For many children, this is their first tree-planting experience! In the process, students learn to identify, describe, and name functions of the tree canopy, trunk, and roots, and better understand the importance of trees in the urban ecosystem.

Tree Identification (5th – 8th grade)

In this 60-minute lesson, students learn to identify tree species by the characteristics of their components (leaves, barks, seeds, fruits, and flowers). In the first part of the lesson, students example tree samples to practice their observational skills and become familiar with new botanical vocabulary. In the second part of the lesson, students head outside and practice using a dichotomous key and their new botanical knowledge to identify trees on their school campus.

Trees in Our Urban Environment (9th – 12th grade)

In two 90-minute lessons, high school biology students:

  • Identify the species of common street trees in the community.
  • Identify the signs of healthy and unhealthy trees.
  • Understand how to create a hospitable home for trees in urban environments.

Get involved

To request a Canopy educational program for your school, contact Canopy’s Program Coordinator, Natalia Schoorl at

Want to become an education volunteer and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards? Learn more and sign up here or contact Natalia Schoorl with questions at

“After doing Canopy’s tree survey, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I took for granted that street trees grow by themselves without any protection, but I learned that young tree protection is important work.”

~ Student, Asia-US
Service Learning Program