Project Plant It!, Dominion Energy’s springtime tree-planting program, is back in 2019 with innovative strategies to teach students about the important role of trees in the ecosystem. Each participating student receives a free redbud tree seedling to plant for Arbor Day, April 26, a special day designated to celebrate and plant trees.
“Everyone knows that spring is coming when they see those beautiful pink blossoms on redbuds throughout the state,” said Suyapa Marquez, senior community affairs representative for Dominion Energy. “The eastern redbud is native to Virginia, so it will thrive in the Richmond region. Students enrolled in Project Plant It! can learn so much about the benefits of trees by planting their redbud and taking care of it while it grows.”
Now in its thirteenth year, Project Plant It! has distributed about 570,000 seedlings since 2007. According to experts from the Virginia Department of Forestry, that equates to about 1,425 acres of new forest if all the trees are planted and grow to maturity.
For the 2018-2019 academic year, the program includes two new features to engage teachers, parents and youth in learning about the science of trees:
- A newly-refreshed website, projectplantit.com, highlights the educator resources and lesson plans that can be downloaded at no charge.
- Three new educational games showcasing cool tree trivia are now on the website for grade levels K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Play one, two or all three for brain-building that’s fun.
Learn About Trees
To kick off the season, third-grade students at Greenwood Elementary School in Henrico County planted some Project Plant It! redbud tree seedlings in containers for their classroom. The seedlings can remain in the containers for a couple of years before they will need to be planted outside.
“Trees are important to our survival and to the wildlife who need trees for food and shelter,” said Tricia Conlon, a third-grade teacher at Greenwood Elementary. In addition to using the seedlings as a real-world science teaching tool, she has engaged students in learning more about trees and the environment through the lesson plans that can be downloaded from the Project Plant It! website, projectplantit.com
“They really enjoyed the crossword puzzle and the word search activities, which enhanced their vocabulary about trees,” she said. “I even heard them using the terms on the playground during recess and when we read a class book about nature. It’s exciting to watch them making connections as they learn.”
In a creative use of the math lesson plan about fractions, Conlon took the students outside to explore the trees on the school grounds. “They were amazed at how many different types of trees they saw, and they had a great time estimating the percentages of different tree species on our campus. The Project Plant It! materials are very easy to use and very kid-friendly, with little instruction needed by me.”
After planting the seedlings, Conlon’s students opened their laptops to play the new online tree trivia games and share their growing knowledge of trees.
“The roots are important to hold the tree up and to hold the soil in place,” said Simon. “The leaves also give food and nutrients to the tree.”
Madelyn stated one of the biggest benefits that trees provide to the ecosystem, “Trees give us oxygen and help us breathe.”
Twelve Lesson Plans for Educators
The Project Plant It! website includes a number of teaching tools, including an Educator’s Classroom Guide with twelve lesson plans that support third-grade learning standards for math, science, language arts and social studies. All of the lesson plans can be adapted easily for all ages and grade levels of students.
The lesson plans include the list below. Go to the table of contents in the guide and click on the lesson plan that you’d like to download.
- Know Your Tree Terminology (crossword and word search)
- Identify the Parts of a Tree
- Identify the Parts of a Leaf
- Trees in Our World
- Math and Fractions in the Forest
- Tree Product Scavenger Hunt
- Tree Book Report
- Understanding Energy
- Planting a Tree
- Watch It Grow!
- Conservation Counts
For a list of trees you should see with your family in the area and to learn more about the trees of RVA, go here.