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Forest Education

K-12 School Programs

Writing Across the Curriculum Using Forests as a Theme

Suggested Approaches from Middle/High School Teachers
at the Secondary Forestry Workshop ~ Sept. 29, 2000

(Assembled by Earl Brogan, Lake Linden-Hubbell High School)

Journal Topics Following a Forest Field Trip

  • What was the value of what we did?
  • What problems were encountered during field procedures?
  • What has one particular tree “seen” during its lifetime?
  • After taking core sampling data, speculate on what the weather was like in the past.
  • For a diversity theme, ask how a lone tree species can survive in a population of other species.
  • Ask what the wildlife is doing at this particular time of year.  For example, they may be preparing for winter.
  • What do you love or hate about being outside?

Observation Exercises

  • Have students sit in one spot and record all of the things they smell or hear--senses not as frequently used--and hypothesize about what the sources of those smells and sounds may be.
  • Describe something you observed in detail.  Can others guess what                 it is from the written description?
  • Have students describe what they see in a core sample.
  • * Place a student to focus on a single direction and report what        she sees.  Other students should focus on different directions and report their observations.  Students will communicate with each other and compare and contrast what they have seen from their individual perspectives and discuss how it contributes to the whole.
  • Write clues for a Clue Game dealing with tree identification.  For example, a clue might read, “I have needles in five bunches.”          
  • For cause and effect, ask why something you observed in the woods happened.  Follow the chain of events back through time.
  • Discuss competition in an ecosystem in terms of benefits and harm. 


Personification Exercises

  • How might a tree feel as a logging truck drives by?
  • What might the animals feel about us as we visit their homes?
  • Write a life history from a tree’s point of view based on the tree measurements and core samples you’ve taken.
  • Write a story from a trees point of view on why its leaves quake.
  • Write about a tree’s “day” and how it interacts with the other organisms around it.
  • Students can follow a set of animal tracks and in first person from the animal’s point of view tell what it came across, what motivates it, and what it senses.
  • Draw up wanted posters to describe different trees with their scientific names, common names, core samples, normal haunts, and identifying features.

Academic Exercises

  • Based on the history of an area, investigate its lumbering potential.
  • Describe the economic impact a forest may have on an area.
  • After observations in a forest area and appropriate research, write a report on the species diversity of the area.
  • Write a technical report or tables based on tree measurement results.


Children’s Story!

  • Write a children’s story based on a red squirrel’s aerial bombardment of teachers with pine cones.


Last Update: June 16, 2008
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