The Giving Back to Nature Challenge


This challenge is designed to be an interactive activity to help the participants experience a new awareness for social responsibility, our environment and the importance of giving back to mother nature. It’s a great team building activity for students and work colleagues. Participants will work together in small groups and learn how to be a team players. It requires thinking, collaborative and creative skills.

Promoting the value of trees and nature

Everyday we get overwhelmed with adverts and other marketing campaigns. Everywhere we look we see advertising for food, cars, toys, cosmetics and movies. You name it… the Ads are everywhere, and they all have one thing in common, they promote the things we USE. These products are created from materials we take from trees and nature.

Now it’s time to start promoting the most important thing in our lives. The challenge is to give back by creating your own adverts, presentations or publication relations artefact that promotes the planting of trees. How can you encourage others to care for our planet and give back?

The video below is called “The Giving Tree” and it illustrates how we only take from nature and we rarely give something in return. There’s a lot to learn from this wonderful short story based on the book and drawings of Shel Silverstein. You can select one of these videos to watch with your participants as a good introduction and then complete the giving back to nature challenge.


Use this lesson in conjunction with “Career Day” or “Career Development”.

Standards and curriculum alignment:

Geography, Mathematics, English/Language Arts, Science. Imagine how you as an educator can extend this lesson to encompass a day long exploration.


The purpose of this lesson is to expand the participants understanding of social/ecological awareness of planting trees and the everyday use of trees in order to maintain societies needs. The human-nature relationship and responsibility.


Watch one of the above videos and brainstorm about the actual meaning of the story and how we as a society are acting the same.

Brain storming – group activity:

  1. Think about how we take from nature with the clothes we wear, the fuels we use, the food we eat and with everything we use in our daily lives.
  2. How do advertisements promote those things that we use? (adverts for shoes, clothes, bags, cars, toys etc.)
  3. List the benefits these products give us and write them down.
  4. Identify the benefits that come from nature/trees and forests.
  5. Connect – how do we as individuals and society give back to nature and see how few examples we can think of.

The Challenge:

You are being challenged to solve a problem facing your world. Every day more and more trees are being cut down, removed in order to provide humans with everyday products. As the world has grown in population the need for trees has grown. Your job is to find a way to encourage people to plant new trees to replace lost trees.

Think, pair, share:

  1. Form small groups of participants (3 to 4 people). Encourage participants to begin to expound on the brainstorming activity.
  2. Student/participants brainstorm ways in which they can increase the “Giving Back to Nature” component. List ways that individuals can limit the strain on the environment and become the “Giver”.
  3. As a group create an “advertisement” that encourages people to plant more trees. Think about and look for their favourite adverts for shoes, clothes, bags, cars, toys etc.
  4. Create:
    • A poster.
    • A tri-fold brochure.
    • A poem.
    • A presentation.
    • Short movie, photo, song etc
    • Be as elaborate as time allows.

Individual experience:

Choose environmental music, (example music) or dim the lights and encourage students/participants to close their eyes and imagine themselves walking through a forest, feel the breeze on your face, breathe deeply and take in all the wonderful oxygen that the trees are giving you, exhale and feed the trees with your CO2, feel the crunch of the ground beneath your feet. Then give them a couple more minutes of alone time with the music. Ask them to write or draw what they are feeling. Then turn on the lights, have them sit in bright silence. Have them imagine a life with silence, and no forests. After a couple of minutes of silence staring forward have them write or draw what that world looks like. Ask your students/participants to share.

Engaged Experience:

Whole group, or Family project: Take the participants outside into a local forest, city park or garden and let them express the benefits of nature or trees by creating their own advert or marketing campaign. They can make any type of campaign they want. It could be a picture, a video, a drawing, a poem, an essay or anything they want to create. Let the participants use their imagination, to imagine the benefits of mother nature and to express it with any creative skill they choose. You can make this part of the challenge as long as you like. For example, you can set 15 minutes to create some slogans or tag line. Or you could set an entire week for some serious creative work.

When the presentations have been completed they can take turns presenting them to the other groups.

Now ask participants to make a list of suggestions about how they think society and individuals can give back to mother nature. These suggestion could form part of an ongoing work plan to be implemented.

Curricular Extensions:

  • English/LA: Rewrite the “Giving Tree” to be the “Giving Me” whereby students recreate the story to show the boy giving to the tree, giving to the world.
  • Math extension: If there are 7billion people in the world and each person planted a tree a year and the average life expectancy of humans is 75 years:
    • Advanced Math: how many trees would each human plant in their lifetime? How many trees would there be in the world in 75 years? (Global investigation, how many trees does it take to build a 1,000 square foot home?)
  • Science: Create a life cycle model of a tree, include the other environmental cycles as well.

The presentations can also be submitted to ForestNation.

benefits of trees ForestNation

Photo Credit: Your Leaf

Lesson plan co-author: Mary E LaLuna ~ ForestNation Ambassador and Educator.

This lesson plan is part of our tree fundraising package for schools. Start your own school fundraiser!

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