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Little Trees

Now enrolling for the 2020-2021 season! Check which classes still have spaces available, or add your name to a waiting list, here. Someone from our staff will be in touch with you shortly.

  • Roots Class (3-yr-olds): Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m
  • Saplings Class (4-yr-olds): Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Trees Class (mixed ages 3-5): Mondays through Thursdays, 12:30 to 3:00 p.m.

Nature-based Early Learning Program  (3–5 years)

Play, explore, discover and learn in this tree-centered early childhood program where children are spontaneous STEM learners with adult staff as their guides.  We take advantage of our institution’s extensive outdoor collections and programming resources to immerse children in a variety of outdoor exploratory experiences in a stimulating, rewarding environment. Our program will allow children the opportunity to play and observe nature throughout the changing seasons while developing literacy skills, social and emotional communication and intelligence, and growing their self-confidence through exploration of their surroundings.  Children will grow strong alongside the trees here at The Morton Arboretum!
The mission of Little Trees is to help young children develop a deep and meaningful relationship with nature through outdoor play and child-directed discovery, creating a foundation for a lifetime of stewardship working towards a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world.

Our curriculum is designed to promote learning by providing an environment that encourages discovery and experimentation while cultivating kindness and empathy, building a growth mindset, and sprouting student scientists.  While exploring several different STEM-focused inquiry units throughout the year, children will have the chance to help shape the content by communicating their interests in each theme.  We investigate each theme by taking nature walks, studying natural phenomena, and engaging in activities that build physical, social-emotional, and cognitive skills.

Read the Little Trees program handbook here

Children are dressed in their winter clothing and standing on a bench that says, strengh.


The Morton Arboretum provides an unparalleled location for nature-based learning.  Children will discover the wonder and beauty found within the arboretum’s 1,700 acres.  Situated on the rolling Valparaiso moraine and bisected by the East Branch of the DuPage River, the Arboretum is home to forests, creeks, savannahs, prairies, and lakes, all of which provide a rich natural environment for exploration and learning.  Experienced instructors trained in nature-based education will share their enthusiasm for the natural world with the children on their daily explorations through the varied environments.  During outdoor exploration, children frequently have the opportunity to observe native wildlife, including white-tailed deer, red-eared sliders, sunfish, bullfrogs, red-tailed hawks, monarch butterflies and hundreds more.  Our quaint classroom, tucked inside the historic Thornhill Education Center, will serve as our home base and provide space for learning stations, dramatic play, art, reading, writing, blocks, and science experiments.


Fee is per child.  This program is exclusive to Arboretum members.  Sessions run from September 8 - May 14.  Limit 10 children per session.   Tuition is paid in 5 installments - 1 deposit for 10% of tuition at time of registration and 4 payments of 22.5% each (August 3, 2020; November 2, 2020; January 15, 2021; and March 12, 2021)

  • Roots Class (3-yr-olds): Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. (must be 3 by September 1, 2020)  $3080 
  • Saplings Class (4-yr-olds): Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. (must be 4 by September 1, 2020)  $4250 
  • Trees Class (mixed ages 3-5): Mondays through Thursdays, 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. (must be 3 by September 1, 2020)  $5400 

In the instance where a credit card payment is declined, you will be notified and a 5-day grace period will be allotted. A $15 processing fee will be assessed after the grace period. Failure to pay within two weeks following the due date will result in suspension from the program. 

Enrollment deposit

A 10 percent non-refundable deposit is required to secure space in the program.  The remaining four payments are each 22.5% of the tuition. These deposits both ensure space is reserved for each child, and help our staff track the size of each class leading up to the registration. The deposit will be refunded if The Morton Arboretum cancels the program for any reason.
A smiling child is sitting on a log.

Refund/cancellation policy

Fees are nonrefundable and nontransferable beginning two weeks prior to the program’s start date.  The Morton Arboretum cannot refund fees requested on or after the start date of a program or for any sessions missed due to student illness or other personal situations.  Any tuition refund requests must be submitted to the registrar in writing and postmarked or emailed two weeks prior to the program start date.  Those requesting refunds must send written requests to Registrar, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, Il 60532, or email registrar-ed@mortonarb.org.  Refunds will be issued by check if the original payment was made by cash or check; or by credit to the same credit card used to make the original payment.  A full refund will be issued in the event that The Morton Arboretum cancels a class section for any reason.

A boy is looking at yellow flowers.