The Arboretum for Educators
Resources for Teachers, Students, and Families
What is Phenology?
Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life. In our area, the spring season is ripe for bringing students outdoors to observe the myriad of changes happening around us. Citizen Science programs related to phenology offer opportunities for students at all levels to observe, wonder, document, and research such phenomena in their schoolyards and neighborhoods.

  • iNaturalist is an easy-to-use platform for recording, identifying, and sharing observations with a wider audience. Here you can create class projects or join existing ones.

PreK-Grade 2: Discovery
Young students can explore their schoolyards to discover the abundance of life emerging from winter dormancy. An easy-to-use app, Seek, allows students to photograph and identify discoveries. A long-term project worth investigating now is the Tulip Test Gardens project from Journey North. Children document the emergence of tulip bulbs and can measure their growth as they learn about plant parts and life cycles.
Grades 3-5: Group Projects
Once students are experienced in making outdoor observations using iNaturalist, they can join one of the focused yet fun Data Quests set up by Zoo New England. Topics include Squirrels, Dandelions, and Invasive Plants – all come with pictorial field guides and child-friendly tasks that can be accomplished in schoolyards and neighborhoods.
Middle School: Independent Investigations
Teach your students about citizen science and how to use the iNaturalist app to make and record seasonal phenomena observations around the school and in their communities. Then, encourage students to participate in the Boston area City Nature Challenge 2023, April 28-May 1 – this BioBlitz is an effort to document all the taxa found within the Boston area.
High School: Group Field Research
World Water Day is March 22, but this project continues throughout the year. Students test and monitor local water surfaces to learn about water quality and help protect this precious resource. Lessons, reasonably priced test kits, and how-to guides available through the EarthEcho Water Challenge site.
March Happenings
Share with students and their families!
Listening Ears:
Owling for Children
Thursday, 3/9, 5:15-6:30pm
Bussey Street Gate,
Arnold Arboretum
Bring your young naturalists to the Arboretum for an evening of owling. This child-centric program is designed for families with children age 4-10. Listen to "Owl Moon," the story of a little girl's owling adventure with her father, then walk up Beech Path with listening ears. With luck, we'll hear the tell-tale hoot of a Great Horned Owl. 
Wonder Spot:
Skunk Cabbage
At Your Leisure

Explore our newest Wonder Spot with your family to learn about a heat-generating plant that can grow in winter!
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