Each spring, school systems throughout Virginia partner with Dominion’s Project Plant It! to teach elementary school students about the starring role that trees play in the ecosystem. More than 12,000 students in the Hampton Roads/Tidewater region—including almost 5,500 students in Virginia Beach enrolled for the first time in 2015—are currently participating in Project Plant It!
Now in its ninth year, Project Plant It! provides teachers with a variety of nature-based lesson plans and activities that support state learning standards and essential knowledge skills in math, science, language arts, and social studies. In April, each participant receives a redbud tree seedling in honor of Arbor Day.
Leslyn Shaw, a third-grade teacher at Richard Bowling Elementary with Norfolk Public Schools, shared the many reasons why she loves teaching about trees and the environment with Project Plant It!
“The students get very excited about this program because it comes when we are studying about habitats,” she said. “We’re always looking at the big tree outside our window and discussing the wildlife that make their home in it and what would happen if the tree was destroyed by fire or drought. Also, the activities for Project Plant It! are very cross-curricular. Students can boost their science, writing, and reading proficiency while collaborating on an activity.”
One of the science lesson plans, Tree-Tac-Toe, is a favorite with students because they conduct research in teams about the animals, birds and insects that live in trees and then mark their tic-tac-toe grid upon completion. Other science-related activities include examining the parts of a leaf using a hand lens, learning about life cycles of plants and trees, and going outdoors to study the parts of a tree through analysis and measurement.
Project Plant It! also includes several lesson plans that support language arts SOLs. Students select books about trees and then interpret the story for their classmates through book reports, poems, plays, and other creative writing projects.
Parents can find an excellent reading list of books about trees on Project Plant It!’s website as well as links to resources and lesson plans available for download. Students can discover Project Plant It! games and videos, and teachers can find more information about participating in Project Plant It! next year.
Leslyn Shaw encourages Tidewater families with elementary school children to explore the program’s website, www.projectplantit.com. “For example, there’s a scavenger hunt that kids really enjoy because it helps them realize all of the things made from trees or that are provided by trees,” she said. “Thanks to Project Plant It!, learning is so much fun.”
New this year is an opportunity to nominate a teacher who creatively incorporates the Project Plant It! lesson plans, instructional tools, and website activities into the classroom curriculum. Later in the spring, Dominion will recognize several outstanding teachers. Details about the nomination process can be found at www.projectplantit.com.
Dominion, parent company of Dominion Virginia Power, established the program in 2007 to educate children, plant trees and improve the environment. For additional information, visit www.projectplantit.com.
Irene Cimino Roberts is Dominion’s manager of corporate public relations.