Back-to-school COVID-19 blues? Let us help!

September 02, 2020

back to school banner image of youth gardening

The new school year is upon us, and teachers, parents, and school districts are wrestling with how to safely bring students back into the classroom.

“I don’t know what the structure will be, I don’t know what classes I am teaching, I don’t know how all the normal things like school coverages and outdoor time will be done. But I know that I am determined to find solutions that allow me to teach effectively AND keep my students safe”.

– Dan Gray, high school teacher, Grand Erie District School Board

Taking your students outside is a great way to keep them engaged. They’ll get fresh air, be socially distanced, and have the opportunity for cross-curricular learning.

But before you leave your classroom, make sure you and your students are prepared for outdoor learning with PLT Canada’s 10 Tips to Connect Children to the Outdoors. It will help set you up for success!

Une femme adulte inspecte une roche à l'extérieur avec deux petits enfants et une loupe

Here are some ways you can incorporate the outdoors into the curriculum:

  • Use natural spaces as inspiration for writing, drawing, or other creative exercises.
  • Count what is out there with a biodiversity study and teach data collection, graphing, prediction modeling, and statistical analysis.
  • Introduce manufacturing classes to the source of the wood they use for construction—use Teaching with i-Tree to decide what they might want to use the tree for.

Help students explore the outdoors and different green career opportunities with PLT Canada’s resources:

Green Jobs: Exploring Forest Careers

Green Jobs: Exploring Forest Careers includes four hands-on instructional activities youth can use to research different forest-sector jobs and practice managing and monitoring forest resources.

This resource is designed for learners aged 12–25. Educators can use the activities individually or as a complete unit. “Green Jobs: Exploring Forest Careers” is available in English and in French.


A Guide to Green Jobs in Canada: Voices of Indigenous Professionals

Students will see diverse faces in the forest and conservation sectors and learn about the different, nonlinear pathways they could take to land their green career.

This guide highlights 12 Indigenous professionals, who all took different paths to get where they are now. It presents students with role models, career fact sheets, and different education pathways (both formal and informal) to help initiate a conversation about their future. A Guide to Green Jobs in Canada: Voices of Indigenous Professionals is available in English, and will soon be available in French, Plains Cree, and Anishinaabemowen.


Teaching with i-Tree

Use this free PLT Canada resource with middle and high school students to teach them about the many ecosystem services that trees provide. The three hands-on activities include discovering tree benefits and identification, learning about tree value, and role-playing as land managers.

teaching with i-Tree cover

Teaching with i-Tree can be used in a classroom or out in nature. It’s available in English and in French.



For younger kids, you can download PLT Canada’s free environmental education worksheets to teach your students how to identify trees on school property or about what trees do (including absorbing carbon dioxide and pollution to improve the quality of the air that we breathe!)

You can also check out eeGuidance for Reopening Schools, developed by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). It offers recommendations such as using school grounds for outdoor classroom spaces to help with physical distancing, engaging community organizations like nature centres as alternative spaces for learning, tapping into the expertise of environmental educators to adapt your teaching style, and supporting at-home learning with activities that allow kids to explore nature in their neighbourhood.


Shuya Huang sits in a field of flowers

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Two youth in hard hats holding baby trees.

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Headshots of Lacey Rose and Julie Antler

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