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Spring in the Arboretum is usually our busiest time for education programs. In a typical year, thousands of students from hundreds of schools visit the Arboretum with their classes to participate in 90-minute programs designed to support classroom learning, while dozens of families participate in Family Nature Classes. With schools operating remotely and careful restrictions on gathering in groups, we’ve found new ways to support teachers, students, and their families.

For our teachers and students, we have a virtual field trip, Seeds on the Move. This three-video series helps students explore what seeds need to grow, develop, and stay healthy. Students are asked to generate hypotheses, dissect seeds together, play games, and do a scavenger hunt all from their homes. The virtual field trips ask students to interact with each other and to get up and move in their homes. They also have room for teachers to pause and lead discussions.

The series was released in February 2021 and has been used with more than 250 students ranging in age from 2nd to 8th grade. While we can’t wait to have teachers and students back in the Arboretum with us, the video series will remain available to schools that aren’t able to attend in person or as a compliment to field trips to the Arboretum.

For families, we are offering seasonally themed Exploration Kits to use in the Arboretum or any green space. Created in partnership with Kubota Garden, the kits provide opportunities for youth and their caregivers to engage with the outdoors. Kits include a learning story, scavenger hunts, guided explorations, child-friendly maps, and any other materials to complete the activities in the kit.

“We had a wonderful family outing and walk around the garden. They enjoyed the scavenger hunt and kit supplies and stories were helpful and fun!”

—Parent, review of winter Exploration Kits 

We just launched our spring-themed kits on March 15, with a special focus on pollination! Each kit includes a learning story entitled “Pollen Party,” instructions for a hands-on game to get up close and personal with different plants and flowers, tools for pollination observation and exploration, and more.

Registration for our youth summer camp programs also began this month, and the camps are already full! However, waitlists are available in the registration system.

— Kim Daniel
Youth and Family Programs Supervisor
University of Washington Botanic Gardens