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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Field Study Experiences for Boston Public Schools

Children look at cones from the Dawn Redwood.
Children look at cones from the Dawn Redwood.

As part of our coronavirus (COVID-19) response, all Field Study Experiences have been canceled until further notice.

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

The Arboretum offers seasonal school programs for Boston Public School students in grades Pre-K to 5, which includes free bus transportation. These two-hour programs investigate biodiversity in the meadows, ponds, and woodlands of the Arnold Arboretum. Our goal is to provide an intellectually stimulating experience in the landscape for each student. We do this by providing hands-on exploration of seasonal phenomena and thoughtful conversations with students about the organisms and habitats they encounter here. We use a variety of tools, and we ask students to share their learning through dialogue, drawings, and presentations. We maintain small groups lead by a volunteer guide so that students can receive individual attention from a supportive and knowledgeable adult. Programs are developmentally appropriate, and on-going coordination with the teachers ensures that our content supports classroom learning goals. Our programs align with BPS Life Science study and Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Engineering Standards. Pre- and post-visit materials help teachers plan a challenging learning opportunity. Volunteer to lead a school group. Contribute to Buses for Boston to provide transportation for BPS students.

  • We serve groups of 30 to 50 students.
  • We serve the Boston Public Schools. There is no charge for BPS participation in the field studies.
  • Programs take place from 10:00am to noon, or 10:30am-12:30pm for late start schools, on weekdays only.
  • Fall programs run from September through November; spring programs run from April through June.

When we return to in-person Field Study Experiences, our offerings include the following programs:


Introduces the flora and fauna of the Arboretum to preschool and kindergarten children.


Complements the Boston Public School’s first grade life science study of both aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals. Program suitable for grades 1-2.

Old Plants: Learning About Plant Parts

Complements the Boston Public School’s second grade life science study of plant life cycles and the functions of each plant part. Program suitable for grades 1-3.

Flowers Change

Focuses on floral parts and functions as pollinated flower makes seeds, for grades 3-5.

Plants in Autumn: How Seeds Travel

Explores the diversity of seed package structures that promote seed dispersal, for grades 3-5.

Native Trees/Native Peoples

Compares and contrasts native evergreen and deciduous trees that were used by Eastern Woodland Indians to meet basic survival needs. Suitable for grades 3-5.

Hemlock Hill: A Forest Ecosystem

Introduces Boston Public School fifth grade students to an urban forest ecosystem to learn about producers, consumers, and decomposers. Also suitable for grades 4-6.

You and your students!

We can help you plan a self-guided field study at the Arnold Arboretum. Contact Ana Maria Caballero for details.

2016 Massachusetts Science, Technology and Engineering standards correlations with Field Studies [pdf]