fbpx Little Trees | The Morton Arboretum

Little Trees

Space is still available for the 2019-2020 school year! See schedule below. 

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

Program Philosophy
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 environmental stewardship.  To achieve this, children will be immersed in daily exploratory experiences within The Morton Arboretum’s vast natural environment.   

a child wearing a backpack and galoshes staring up at a tree

We believe: 

  • Children are the hope for the future of our trees.
  • Children should learn in a nature-based, child-centered atmosphere that is positive, peaceful, and productive.
  • Children should learn early science (STEM) concepts both through spontaneous exploration and in guided experiences. 
  • Teachers should support an environment conducive to improving children’s critical and cooperative thinking, cognitive skills, and social and emotional communication.
  • Children should be allowed to interact with and observe nature, increasing their self-confidence and growth mindset through exploration.
  • Teachers should support the children’s progress throughout their learning journey with thoughtful planning, observation, documentation, evaluation, and reflection. 
  • Activities should encourage children’s personal growth based on their individual abilities and interests.
  • It's essential that the children are valued, nurtured, and respected as individuals. We appreciate the uniqueness of each child and celebrate a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures.
  • It’s essential for teachers to partner with families, providing a solid base of communication, support, and encouragement for each child. 
  • Teachers should be positive role models who display emotional intelligence and conscientious actions.

Program Statement

Our program is designed to promote learning by providing an environment that encourages discovery and experimentation.  While exploring several different inquiry units throughout the year, children will have the chance to help shape the content by communicating their interests in each theme.  No matter what the topic, we will explore each theme by taking nature walks, studying natural phenomena, and engaging in activities that build physical, social-emotional, and cognitive skills.  Our program will include activities intended to engage children and take them to the next level of understanding based on their abilities and interests.

Notes: Multiple child discount available
Requirements: Participants must be age 3 and toilet trained by September 1, 2019.  Children must have outdoor clothing and shoes suitable for all weather conditions. 
Recommended ages: 3–5 years old 
Course number: Y070


2019 to 2020
Thornhill Education Center


  • Section A:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, September 3, 2019 through May 8, 2020, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. 
  • Section B:  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, September 4, 2019 through May 8, 2020, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. 


  • Section C: Tuesdays and Thursdays, September 3, 2019 through May 8, 2020, 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. 



Fee is per child. This program is exclusive to Arboretum members. Limit 10 children per session. Tuition is paid in (3) seasonal payments: July 1, 2019; Nov. 1, 2019; and March 2, 2020.

A $100 non-refundable deposit is required to secure space in the program. This will be deducted from the first tuition payment when your children begins classes.

  • Section A:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, September 3, 2019 through May 7, 2020, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. $2,990, member child
  • Section B:  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, September 4, 2019 through May 8, 2020, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. $4,125, member child
  • Section C:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, September 3, 2019 through May 7, 2020, 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. $2,990, member child


Registration opens January 14, 2019.
CALL: Meg Gessler, Early Childhood Education Coordinator, 630-719-2462


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