Out on a Limb (6th Grade)

6, 7, 8

Students review the role trees play in providing a healthy environment and their role and responsibility to protect trees. The Tree City USA designation provides framework and rationale for student discussions about what they can do.

PrintOne 50 Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • share information about the roles and benefits of trees.
  • define stewardship and discuss responsibilities in promoting the common good through environmental stewardship.
  • identify the benefits of participating in the Tree City project.
  • propose actions to be environmental stewards of trees for the Earth Day event.
Home Connection 

Have the students talk to their families about their class's plans to plant trees or become a "Tree School." With their family's help, they can begin to research local businesses and partners to donate trees for this Earth Day Event.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Go outside with the students and walk around the school campus to observe and count the trees on the property. Encourage discussion about the beauty and variety of trees as well as the roles and importance of trees in the environment (provide shade, homes for animals, oxygen, reduce carbon, etc.) Ask the students to identify the needs of trees and observe whether the trees have a suitable environment (good soil, room to grow, sufficient water and clean air, etc.). As you walk around, also look for possible places to plant more trees.

  2. Return to the classroom to review the things discussed outside (roles, needs, benefits, etc.) Ask the students a few open-ended questions such as the following: How many trees should there be per person in the world? Are there enough trees on our campus and in our community? What threatens the life of trees? What can we do to increase the number of trees and improve the conditions for trees in our area?

  3. Write the words responsibility, environmental stewardship, and common good on the display board. Ask the students to identify these terms and help them as needed. Responsibility is "being answerable for one's actions or the actions of others." Environmental stewardship is "careful and responsible management of a natural resource entrusted to your care." Common good is "something that is in the best interest of the community."

  4. Pair up students and tell them to discuss their responsibility to be environmental stewards of trees. What should they be doing to protect and plant trees? After a few minutes of discussion, ask the pairs of students to share a summary of what they discussed. Write on the display board the key responsibilities students propose. Tell them they will make a plan to fulfill some or all of these responsibilities through a service project.

  5. Divide the class into four or five groups. Give each group a different article to read. Below is a list of lnternet links to articles related to stewardship of trees. Tell the groups to read their article and discuss what information in the article should be reported to the rest of the class. Tell them to look for information in the article that could help them decide what action to take for the sake of trees and the common good. (Have them keep in mind the class's list of responsibilities.) After 15 minutes, each group reports their summary and recommendations. Use this discussion to make a plan for a service project.


The learner's involvment in the classroom discussions and activities will form the basis for the assessment of this lesson.

Cross Curriculum 

Students plant trees in a common area or their own backyards.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify and research public or social issues in the community, nation or the world related to the common good. Form an opinion, and develop and present a persuasive argument using communication tools.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
      3. Benchmark MS.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.