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What is a Forest?



Part I (as a class- allow 20-30 min.)

- Have the students brainstorm to answer the question: What makes up a forest? Record these ideas on a chalkboard or overhead. When recording, try to categorize the ideas into groups such as trees, animals, insects, plants, birds, water-ways, etc., so that students realize the variety that exists within the environment of the forest.
- When the students run out of ideas, show the poster “Between the Stands” and ask if there are more names that they want to add to their brainstorming list?
- After the brainstorming, ask the students to define the word FOREST. (Record this definition on the board or overhead.)
- Introduce the glossary handout and have the students look for the word FOREST. Compare this definition with the one the students came up with and discuss the differences that may exist. Have the students put a colored check mark in front of the word FOREST. (Optional: Explain that in each lesson they should use a different colored check to mark the words of that lesson. This will tell them which words to study for each lesson in preparation for quizzes and will also point out some key words that reappear under different topics throughout the study of the forest.)

Part II (small group activity- allow 30+ min.)

- Arrange the students into small groups according to the number of tree sample sets you made. (Smaller groups will allow all students an opportunity to look at the branches and take part in the discussion.)
- Have each group come up with a list of ways to compare the trees. (colors, size of leaf/needle, edging, etc.) They will need a recorder.
- As a class, share the classifications that the groups came up with.
- Introduce the “Tree Book” by looking at pages 8 thru 11. (Have at least one book per group or prepare overheads and/or handouts of pages 8-15)
- Discuss the features as they are shown. Have the students look at their tree samples to find these same features.
- Now turn to pages 12 thru 15. Read over the features and the subfeatures that exist. Discuss these pages and the headings in detail.
- Choose a feature that matches a tree that each group has a sample of.
- For example, if they all have a lodgepole pine sample:

step 1. Find the heading: Trees with needles in bundles of 2, 3 or 5.
step 2. Which tree has needles in bundles of 2?

- Ask the students what the book calls that tree (species) and on what page the information about that tree will be found? Be sure everyone follows the procedure.
- The answer is: LODGEPOLE PINE which is found on page 28.
- Turn to the page and read all of the information about the tree. Be sure to note the headings, as students will need to follow this procedure and use the headings when completing the chart for the tree identification station later in this unit. (Borrow extra Tree Books from your local forest educator or photocopy pages you need.)
- Repeat this procedure for another tree sample that the students have.
- Repeat for all the remaining samples (not reading all the information but simply doing the identification) or if the students are comfortable with the procedure, have the groups finish naming their samples as a group rather than as a class.


  • TREE GAME: Create a game within the group whereby a student uses the Tree Book to name a feature and a sub-feature. The rest of the group must try to determine the tree name. Whoever gets the correct answer will get to choose a tree and give the clues.


  • Journals: Students could record something “new” they learned today and what they thought was the best part of the lesson.
  • Students could begin a title page for this unit.

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