PLT (Project Learning Tree )
What is PLT?
Project Learning Tree® is an award winning, multi-disciplinary environmental education program for educators and students in Pre K-grade 12. PLT, a program of the American Forest Foundation, is one of the most widely used environmental education programs in the United States and abroad. PLT continues to set the standard for environmental education excellence.
Teachers at a PLT workshop
PLT helps students learn how to think, not what to think, about the environment. PLT meets state and national education standards. The curriculum materials provide the tools educators need to bring the environment into the classroom and their students into the environment. Topics range from forests, wildlife, and water, to community planning, waste management and energy.
PLT is a network of 3,000 grassroots volunteers and over 120 coordinators world-wide that work with formal and nonformal educators, school staff, state agencies, foresters, businesses, civic organizations, museums, nature centers, and youth groups to provide professional development programs. To date, more than 500,000 educators are trained in using PLT materials, reaching approximately 26 million students in the United States and abroad.
The Elementary school curriculum (pre K-8) takes an interdisciplinary, hands-on approach to learning and contains more than 90 different lesson plans. In addition to teaching about science, trees, and forestry, PLT can be used to teach language arts, social studies, nutrition, mathematics, visual arts, and more. The PLT curriculum is correlated with the NYS Science Core Curriculum and NYS Social Studies Core Curriculum. To view the correlations visit the New York State page on the Project Learning Tree website.
National PLT has correlated the preK-8th Grade Guide to the Common Core State Standards, these can be found on National's Correlations page, along with correlations to Boys Scouts badges, Girl Scouts badges, and FOSS Science Kits. The Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood's correlations to Head Start's Child Outcomes Framework and National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards are last found on National PLT's Correlations page. [link listed in the right column.]
PLT's Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood
Since 1993, PLT has provided environmental education training and academic curricula for Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten educators to assist in their education programs with young people. In response to a huge demand for more activities that use developmentally-appropriate approaches for reaching young learners, in 2010 PLT created a new early childhood curriculum and produced an accompanying music CD providing a valuable resource designed specifically for early childhood educators. This new curriculum guide and music CD engages children ages 3 to 6 in outdoor exploration and play. Eleven field-tested, hands on activities showcase over 130 "early childhood experiences" which integrate investigations of nature with art, literature, math, music and movement.
PLT's Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood guide includes background information on facilitating experiences for the early childhood learner, how to guide children in learning about nature both indoors and outdoors, and clear objectives and benchmarks to assess learning. It also includes suggestions for activities that families and friends can conduct to enhance their child's learning experiences at home.
PLT's Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood guide has been correlated to national standards for preschool education by three major early childhood accreditation programs. All activities meet the National Association for the Education of Young Children criteria for curriculum, the North American Association for Environmental Education's Early Childhood Environmental Education Guidelines for Excellence, and the Head Start's Child Outcomes Framework.
Educators receive training and PLT's Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood materials by attending a three hour professional development workshop.
Secondary modules are available for high school educators in grades 9 - 12, including Intro Handbook for Secondary Modules (online); Exploring Environmental Issues: Biodiversity (online); Exploring Environmental Issues: Focus on Forests (print); The Changing Forest: Forest Ecology (print); Exploring Environmental Issues: Municipal Solid Waste (print); Exploring Environmental Issues: Focus on Risk (print); Exploring Environmental Issues: Places We Live; and Global Connections: Forests of the World (print). A biotechnology supplement for the Focus on Risk module is in development.
Check out the national PLT website (listed in the right column of this page) for more interesting information about Project Learning Tree. The national site also has resources for most of the activities in the Pre K-8 Guide, Early Childhood guide and the secondary modules. Also, all the student pages for every activity in every guide are available on the national site.
To obtain the PLT curriculum, you must attend a three hour Early Childhood workshop or a six hour Pre K-8 workshop. Workshops are offered periodically throughout the state and are facilitated an educator. The workshops are FREE, or for a nominal fee. Check the current educator workshop schedule to see where and when the next PLT workshop will be held.
For information on PLT, contact one of the NYS PLT Coordinators:
NYSDEC, Regions 6, 7, & 8
In New York State, PLT is cosponsored by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Empire State Forestry Foundation.