Clasped hands in robe with CHF logo and text overlay: BELIEF, October 28 - November 12

Lesson Plan for The Man Who Planted Trees

By Dana Lambert

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change circumstances, the seasons or the wind, but you can change yourself.” --Jim Rohn

Through an exceptional blend of comedy, puppetry and storytelling The Man Who Planted Trees imparts the story of one shepherd’s long and successful single-handed effort to re-forest a desolate valley in the foothills of the Alps near Provence throughout the first half of the 20th century. The Man Who Planted Trees is a captivating adaptation of Jean Giono’s environmental cult classic and an unforgettable story that shows us the difference one man (and his dog!) can make to the world.

These three activities will help students think critically and creatively about environmentalism.

This lesson plan was made possible with the support of the Field Foundation.

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Activity 1 and 2: 1 Hour; Activity 3: Ongoing


  • The Man Who Planted Trees (PDF story)
  • Top 22 Benefits of Trees (PDF)
  • Pens/Pencils/Crayons and Paper
  • Overhead or board for writing
  • Several literature books about trees. Resource books for identification about trees. Any other materials you might already have concerning trees.


  • Help students understand the importance of individual responsibility
  • Encourage students to become caretakers of their environment
  • Increase students’ awareness and knowledge of trees

Essential Questions

  • What is our responsibility to the environment?
  • Why are trees important?
  • What are the components of a tree?

These activities help to satisfy the Illinois State Learning Standards in English Language Arts.

For a full listing, please visit:

The Man Who Planted Trees

  1. As a class read Jean Giono’s short story “The Man Who Planted Trees” available as a PDF at
  2. As a class discuss the following questions:
    • The man who planted trees doesn’t want credit, notoriety for all his hard work, why?
    • Are you willing to do the right thing when there is no benefit to you?
    • Do you consider yourself to be a responsible person? Why? In what ways?
    • Do you consider it important for your friends and family members to be responsible? Why?
    • Think about somebody you know who is very responsible. How does that person demonstrate responsibility? Does that make you respect him/her more?
    • The other man leaves the Shepherd alone, and doesn’t tell anyone what’s going on. Why would that have been betraying the Shepherd?
  3. Discuss the differences between the play and the written version of “The Man Who Planted Trees”

The Importance of Trees

  1. As a class, discuss why trees are important to the environment. Write their answers on the board or overhead.
  2. Hand out and read the Top 22 Benefits of Trees worksheet.
  3. In small groups, have students imagine their ideal school and school ground in the future. What would it look like? Have students write and illustrate their description.
  4. As a class, discuss their ideas.

Tree Investigation

  1. Take students outside and ask them to pick a tree they like. If their tree will be difficult to find again have the student tie a piece of yarn onto one of its branches.
  2. Have students make a rubbing of a section of its bark. This drawing will be used as the title page of their tree book.
  3. Have students draw their tree and record specific attributes like estimated height, width of trunk, color, leave shape, etc.
  4. If it’s a deciduous tree, have the students collect some leaves to dry and add to a page in their book later. If it’s a coniferous tree, paste some of its needles to a page in the book.
  5. Have students research their tree. Find out its name, the other areas it grows in, and what animals it rely on it.
  6. Have students write a mini research paper based on their research. Have students include facts about the components of a tree, photosynthesis, potential threats, etc.
  7. Continue to make observations of the tree through the year.
  8. Bind all the pages to make a Tree Book.

Additional Resources

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