Small people, smaller trees!

Bonsai can be particularly fascinating to children. The tree’s small size but grand posture often empowers children to learn more about nature and discover that one can be small and mighty. Over the years, the Museum and the Foundation have encouraged families to tour the museum with children. If you’re visiting with your kids, here are some tips to keep in mind. We do like to advise that due to the peaceful nature of the Museum and the fact that the displays are generally “look don’t touch,” that young children be supervised by an adult at all times.

→ Learn more about planning your visit here.

→ Learn more about our Children’s Bonsai Workshop here.

Do Some Reading:

Before you go, you may want to check out The Peace Tree from Hiroshima: A Little Bonsai with a Big Story. The children’s book is perfect for kids starting at xx years old. Written by Sandy Moore and illustrated by Kazumi Wilds, it is the heartwarming story about the Japanese White Pine that survived Hiroshima. It teaches younger readers that despite dark historical events, a tree can bring friendship between nations.


Also, be sure to download, Explore the World of Bonsai, our interactive booklet for families to use while in the Museum!


What to Bring:

Depending on the age of your children, a durable stroller can be a good idea as once you’ve visited the museum, you may want to explore the U.S. National Arboretum grounds which span 446 acres. There are paved walking trails as well as dirt paths.

Most of the museum is outdoors so please dress according to the weather. There is a water fountain located near the Special Exhibit Wing. The bathrooms are located back in the Welcome Center.



Children at Bonsai Festival.

Children at Bonsai Festival.

We have several public events throughout the year where children are encouraged to join. In addition, we invite schools to participate in private events from time to time as well. 

We offer a Children’s Workshop for kids 8 and up, accompanied by an adult each year. Child and adult worked as lab partners to use their “scientist eyes” and learn about how a tree can become a bonsai. The pairs learned about plant physiology, ecosystems and bonsai history. At the close of the class, each pair received a seedling whose fate they could decide. Would it become a bonsai or grow wild, big and free? Sign up for our email list or follow us on social media to ensure you don’t miss the next one!

Click here for our next Children’s Workshop!

Children's poems about the museum: 

After a class from Sidwell Friends School visited the Museum, they sent poems and essays they wrote about their experience.