Teacher and Student Resources

This page is under construction! Please check back soon for updates.

We do have a “virtual tour” hosted on Google. It is from several years ago–some areas of the trail look considerably different now–but it is a fun way to visualize the arboretum.

New! We have a virtual tour of the Ethnobotanical Garden now available online, which highlights native and canoe plants in the garden.

Outdoor Circle has a collection of similar tours.

Check out SchoolVirtually, a website that provides resources to support all learners, including students with disabilities and English language learners. It was created by a UH College of Education professor.

Website: Celebrate Earth Month Online

Kindergarten (Plant Explorations)

Parts of a Plant & What Plants Need to Survive

Parts of a Plant

Parts of a plant

Clickable diagram by DK: Parts of a Plant by DK Find Out

Video: “Parts of a Plant” from the Dr. Binocs Show (approx 3 minutes). Quick introduction to root, stem, leaf, bud, flower, and fruit. (This is slightly different from how we list the six six major parts of the plant here at Lyon. We prefer root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit, and seed.)

Video: “Time-Lapse: Watch Flowers Bloom Before Your Eyes” from National Geographic (approx 3:30). Once you take a close look at a flower, the complexity and beauty can really jump out at you.

Video: “What’s Inside a Bean?” by SciSchow Kids. A bean is a familiar and easy-to-examine example of a seed.



What Plants Need to Survive

What Plants Need To Survive

Here at Lyon Arboretum, we usually answer the question, “What do plants need to survive?” with four things: light, water, air, and nutrients.

Video: “Who Needs Dirt?” by Crash Course Kids.

1st Grade (Sort it Out)

Webpage: “What Makes a Seed?” First grade science lesson on BetterLesson

Webpage: “Plants and Biomimicry.” First grade science lesson on BetterLesson.

Similarities and Differences…

…between different varieties within the same species

ain’t no party like a Lyon ti party

Similarities and differences within a species

Here at Lyon Arboretum, we have lots of ti (scientific name: Cordyline fruiticosa), and we’re willing to bet you’ve seen it before!

A ti plant. Credit: Cliff / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Ti is useful for lots of things, including making ti leaf leis and skirts for hula.

Ti is also really cool because there are lots of kind of ti. The pictures below are all the same kind of plant (ti) but they’re different varieties (kinds) of ti!


…between adults and offspring

Similarities and differences between sprouts and adult plants


The koa tree, which is native to Hawaii, has totally different leaves when it is a baby (seedling) versus when it is an adult.

The “baby leaves” are the true leaves of the tree and they have lots of tiny oval “leaflets” that sit across from each other.

Acacia koa young leaves. Forest & Kim Starr / CC BY 3.0 US (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/deed.en)

When the koa tree is an adult, its distinctive sickle-shaped leaves (you could also say they look like a crescent moon) appear. These “leaves” are actually the modified stem of the true leaves! Nature is bizarre!

Acacia koa adult “leaves.” Forest & Kim Starr / CC BY 3.0 US (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/deed.en)

When the trees are in their awkward teenage years, you can see both types of “leaves” on one tree. This website has more pictures and information.


Grow your own

One of the easiest ways to observe the similarities and differences between seedlings and adult plants is to plant your own seeds! The first leaves a seed puts out often have a different shape from the leaves the plant will have when it is an adult. Salad greens are especially fun for this because they grow fast and you can eat them when you’re done. Beans are another great seed to use because they are fast-growing and are more likely to be available in a regular grocery store.

2nd Grade (Plants and Friends)

Pollination and seed dispersal



Resource page: Pollinator Partnership Curriculum

Games for Change: Pollinator Prompt

What is Pollination?” on Eden Project. Features a short (just over 1 minute) video about pollination in the style of an 8-bit video game. Also features a diagram about pollination.

Pollination Facts” on Cool Kid Facts. Has explanations of pollination and related terms for kids. Has some cool examples of pollination pairs, like lemurs and palms and wasps and figs. (Does contain a picture of the seeds of a dandelion, which is more relevant to seed dispersal than pollination.)

Online quiz game: “Parts of a Flower” on Turtle Diary. Type in the names of the flower parts to finish the diagram. Flower parts featured are petal, stigma, style, anther, sepal, and ovule.

Pick the Pollinator Game” on NOVA. A game of matching the pollinators and flowers to each other (online and printable versions are provided). Be sure to check out the answer key, as it expands on each pairing and includes cool information about some of the pollination pairs. Also covers methods of pollination that are less frequently discussed, like water pollination, wind pollination, and self-pollination.

Article: “Bat Role in Pollination,” on Batworlds. A nice summary on the importance of bats in pollination. Also mentions seed dispersal by bats.

Webpage: “Why Bats Matter,” on Bat Conservation Trust. Links to an article about bats as pollinators as well as bats as seed dispersers and reforesters, bats as indicators of biodiversity, and bats as pest controllers.

Video: “Who are Flowers Trying to Seduce?” by MinuteEarth. Topic: pollination and plants (approx 2 minutes)

Video: “Orchids: Masters of Deception” by MinuteEarth. Topic: orchid specializations for survival, including their tendency to trick insects into being unintentional pollinators (approx 4 minutes)


Extra material

Article: “Less brilliant flowers still keep bees coming back,” on Science News for Students. Topic: bees seem to prefer flowers that aren’t too shiny, and flowers seem to have evolved to be less flashy as a result.

Seed dispersal

Seed dispersal

Article: “Why do strawberries have their seeds on the outside?” by Matt Shipman, North Carolina State University. 🍓

The Lyon Education Team has many things it likes, and top among those are eating and Wikipedia. If you haven’t perused their list of edible seeds yet, it’s worth doing. When we ask students to name the parts of the plants they’ve eaten, they’re usually most familiar with fruits and vegetables (some of which are, botanically, fruits), and they tend to overlook seeds.

Project Learning Tree: Have Seeds, Will Travel

Blowing In The Wind: Seeds & Fruits Dispersed By Wind. This page is a little technical, but it has many specific examples of wind-dispersed seeds, organized by different types. (E.g., helicopter seeds vs cottony seeds). There are many photos as well! It also features examples from around the world rather than focusing almost exclusively on examples from North America as many classroom resources seem to do.

Here at Lyon Arboretum, we have quite a few wind-dispersed seeds, and not all of them are North American!

Growing with Science Blog: Seed Dispersal

Features good photos, a visual ‘how does this disperse’ quiz, and other cool resources.

Links to three different pages about making your own wind-dispersed “seed” at home. It’s super fun–try it!

Also includes this really cool video about another way seeds can disperse, by “exploding!”

Classes that come to Lyon Arboretum for our 2nd Grade field trip, “Plants and Friends,” get to see and usually hold our double coconut seed (Lodoicea maldivica, also called coco de mer). This article talks about some of the fascinating science behind the double coconut’s survival strategies. “The Secret of the World’s Largest Seed Revealed,” on New Scientist.

Online Game: Seed Racer: an online game from PBS Kids. In this game, the player must collect seeds before they get dispersed by various methods (wind, water, and animals, inside and out). It talks about specific adaptations a seed may have to help it disperse. The examples used will likely be most relevant to students who have lived on the mainland.

Has accompanying teaching tips here.

More seed videos!

Watch exploding seeds!

3rd Grade (Amazing Adaptations)

Plant adaptations

Article: “Desert Plants: the Ultimate Survivors” on Science News for Students.

Adapting to cities

Species adapt to… the human habitat (cities) (3.5 minutes)

Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous Plants

Unlike most plants, carnivorous plants eat animals!

Plant Defenses

Plant Defenses

Clickable page highlighting some plant defenses from DK: https://www.dkfindout.com/us/animals-and-nature/plants/plant-defense/

But! There is a cost to plant defenses: https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/plants-dont-grow-well-when-always-high-alert

Plants may even communicate to each other about nearby predators to tell their neighbors to boost their defenses

4th Grade (Ka Wai Ola)

Website: Hawaiʻi Association of Watershed Partnerships (HAWP) Resources Page.

Website: the Watershed Project.

Website: “Watershed Education” from the City of Boulder, Colorado.

Website: “Nā Wai ʻEkolu & Stream Biodiversity.” This resource has been generously shared by ʻIolani School. Materials for grades K-12 are provided.

Nā Wai ʻEkolu Highlights

Highlights from Nā Wai ʻEkolu

Page: Lyon Arboretum’s Children’s Garden is peppered with ʻōlelo noʻeau… read a collection of ʻōlelo noʻeau online!

Page: “Ka Wai Ola – The Water of Life” on Kaʻahele Hawaiʻi. Read more ʻōlelo noʻeau about wai (water). 

The water cycle, groundwater, and streams

Page: “Hawaiʻi’s Water Cycle” from the Board of Water Supply.

Page: “Where is Groundwater?” on Geography4Kids.

Documentary: “Forests for Life” by the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources. Individual segments are viewable in shorter clips.

Page: “Hawaiian Streams” from the Division of Aquatic Resources.  Be sure to check out the links on the side for more detailed look at stream topics!

Study systems in Hawaiʻi

Page: “Waipiʻo Valley Stream Restoration Study” from the Bishop Museum.

Page: “Study Systems” from the California State University at Fullerton Molecular Ecology Lab. Scroll down to see photos and a video they took of our native ʻoʻopu.

Page: “New Mapping Techniques Help Assess the Health of Hawaii’s Coral Reefs” hosted by the U.S. Geological Survey. Check out the photo of one reef  hidden by a plume of sediment from runoff (near the bottom of the page). What a vivid image of how runoff can affect our reefs!

Article: “Native Hawaiians Turn to Ancient Traditions to Save Their Reefs” by Yessenia Funes on Gizmodo. There is one error early in the piece (kalo is not native; it is a canoe plant) but it is a great look at how traditional practices continue to provide useful answers to problems today.

Invasive Species

Page: “Albizia FAQs” from the Big Island Invasive Species Committee. Albizia is a highly invasive tree on Oʻahu as well as the Big Island, and the story of Albizia closely linked with the story of our watershed. Learn more about Albizia on this page.

Page: “Strawberry Guava” from the US Forest Service. Strawberry Guava is another highly invasive species in our state.  Not only is it bad for our native forests, it’s also bad for our watershed! Learn more about this tree and one way the state is looking into controlling its spread through biological controls.

Page: “Introduction – Stream Animals: Alien Species” on the Atlas of Hawaiian Watersheds and Their Aquatic Resources. Read about invasive species in streams around our state.

Agriculture and erosion

Agriculture and Erosion

For older kids and other coolness

“Some Useful Botanical Definitions” from the Tennessee Arboretum.

Article: “Cliff-dwelling Cabbages,” by Shannon Wianecki. An article about a native Hawaiian plant that has lost its pollinator but is being successfully propagated by humans.

Scientific articles for students

Frontiers for Young Minds

Science Journal for Kids

Science News for Students

Here are some free worksheets for introducing kindergartners to basic shapes. After you know your basic shapes, why not look for shapes in nature? Flowers, fruits, leaves, even the overall shape of a plant might look familiar!

This page also has some fun ideas for looking for patterns and shapes together in nature. It even has a free printable worksheet.

Careers with plants: What does a botanist do? Link

Video: “How Do Trees Transport Water from Roots to Leaves?” Visualize how water moves from roots to leaves.

Projects and activities

Sock seeds – collect seeds around your home or school on an old sock… then plant it. Link!

Explore the outdoors… like a Field Scientist!

Make a terrarium!

Grow your own plants… a do-it-at-home experiment into what plants need to survive!

Plant Identification

Video: “My Interest in Plant Identification.” A short video about how one woman got into plant ID. As she is based on the mainland, the plants she talks about as being prevalent in her neighborhood may not be the same as those found in our state. She has a series about getting into plant ID.


COVID-19 topics

Possible resources to share with your students that are related to COVID-19

Picture unrelated

Website: “ʻĀina-Informatics Network (AIN): Distance Learning Resources for Genomics and COVID-19,” from ʻIolani School.

Lesson plan: “Infectious diseases, epidemics and vaccines: a distance learning lesson” by Science Journal for Kids and Teens. For grades 4 and up.

Lesson idea: “The Spread of Infectious Diseases, Exponential Growth, and Social Distancing” also by Science Journal for Kids and Teens. Based on simulations provided by the Washington Post article “Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve.

Lesson ideas: “3 Scientific Articles about Outbreaks of Deadly Infectious Diseases” by Science Journal for Kids and Teens.

MEL Academy is offering science webinars for free for the next three months (Presumably, April, May, and June 2020).

For home and school gardens

The Whole Kids Foundation has a collection of garden resources.

Collecting and storing seeds

CTAHR Home Gardening Series

CTAHR (UH’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources) has started a series about starting your own home garden, even if you live in an apartment.

Other gardening resources

The CTAHR Master Gardener website is filled with useful resources for gardeners in our state.

Check out the informative videos by Dr. Eric Brennan. He’s a graduate of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s CTAHR! He made a playlist of videos about elementary school gardens.

Just for fun

Video: Bird Calls at Lyon Arboretum

How sharp are your ears? Listen to some bird calls from our garden and try to count how many different kinds of birds you can hear! Can you hear some of the birds having a “conversation?”

Observation challenge 1: Spot the kolea.

Click here for the “answer key” for spot the kolea.

Green parrot with red bill

“Ring-necked parakeet” photo by Marie Hale. CC BY 2.0. https://flic.kr/p/27bo57W

Observation challenge 2: Can you spot the birds hiding in this tree? The birds you’re looking for are ring-necked parakeets, which have become invasive here in Mānoa.

A tree with green parrots hiding among the leaves

Click to see larger image

Click here to see the “answer key” with circled parrots


Check out the “Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds” Ensemble YouTube playlist

Video: The Hidden Beauty of Pollination