Trees can teach us how to be good ancestors.
Growing, planting and caring for trees is a relationship that requires patience, care and commitment, with many rewards along the way. We can guide ākonga to connect with and care for trees by choosing a starting point related to the seasons: collecting seeds, growing seedlings, planting, caring and eventually experiencing the flowers, fruit, shade, branches to climb and other benefits they provide us.
Late autumn and winter are the best seasons to plant trees, as we start to get more rain and the soil holds more water. There are lots of great events and opportunities to plant trees during Terms Two and Three
Events: Celebrate and Plant Trees
Week 4: Outdoor Classroom Day 18 May
Week 5: International Day for Biodiversity 22 May
Week 9 : Winter Solstice 22 June
School holidays: Matariki public holiday 14 July
Week 5: Conservation Week 14 - 22 Aug
All of these events offer a chance to engage with your wider community, either by attending a planting day or celebration run by a local group, or by inviting whānau to come into your school grounds and take part in learning about and caring for trees.
Hastings Central School has a shade house where ākonga grow a range of seedlings which are then gifted to projects in the community. They have also used trees as a key part of their outdoor classroom design, planting mānatu (ribbonwood) and nīkau to provide shade. The main image above shows tamariki from Hastings Central School with some of the trees for their outdoor classroom.
Te Kākano nursery in Wānaka has worked in collaboration with Whakatipu Reforestation Trust to develop an education programme that supports ākonga to learn about, grow and care for native plants, from early childhood through to their primary and secondary years.
These projects are examples of how outside providers and the wider community can help support kaiako with relevant and local learning.
Visit our Providers page to search by region and find people and groups near you who can provide support.
Getting Started: Helpful Resources
Restoration Through the Seasons includes a poster and inquiry plan from the Department of Conservation (DOC) that can help guide you towards activities that work best each term.
Kids Greening Taupō have an online nature classroom about Tipu | Plants of Aotearoa that includes great activities and information about trees and other plants.
Get to Know a Tree with this short nature connection activity from DOC.
Science Learning Hub have created a bilingual learning unit: Ngā rākau | Trees
If you're part of the Enviroschools programme you should check out the Living Landscapes resources.
Create a Ngahere | Forest in your School
You might already have plans to start a ngahere in your school or kura grounds, or maybe you're involved with a community planting project. Winter is the main season for planting, so keep an eye out for community planting events in your area during Terms 2 and 3.
Trees That Count have a range of videos and advice for schools about how to plan and coordinate planting days. Remember to check in with your local community and environmental education providers to get support with this process.
Read this article from the Education Gazette about schools who are celebrating Matariki by planting native trees in their school grounds.