Intro to Forests

This learning block represents one week’s work. Aim to watch at least one video and choose at least one activity or project to complete. 

There are two videos to choose from about forests. The first one is better for younger kids, the second one will appeal to older kids. Feel free to watch one, or both!

Now choose an Activity

Pine Cone Bird Feeder Project

In this project, you will have fun making your own bird feeder using tree cones! If you live near a forest, this is the perfect time to go for a field trip to collect some pinecones (or other tree cones). Or, search around your neighbourhood or a local park!

You will need:

– pinecones (or other tree cones)
– string (natural fiber is best!)
– peanut butter or other nut/seed butter
– bird seed
– dried fruit

Follow the direction in the video and hang your birdfeeder somewhere visible. Over the next few days, you may want to keep an eye on your birdfeeder and see how many bird species (or other creatures!) you can spot having a snack! If you can, try to photograph or draw the birds you see.

Don’t forget to document your project for your portfolio!

How does fire help a forest?

Did you know that forest NEED fire? Watch the videos above and discover how naturally-occuring wild fires are sometimes needed to keep forests healthy!

See if you can find someone to share your new wildfire knowledge with this week!

Draw a Charcoal Tree

Have you ever drawn with CHARCOAL? Charcoal is actually made from burnt twigs and branches! This makes it a really cool material to use for your own realistic tree drawing.

You will need:
– charcoal (any kind will do – there are many options)
– paper towel or a blending stump
– drawing paper (white is great, but any light colour is good too!)
– eraser

When you finish, document your drawing and add it to your portfolio!

Spotlight on Conservation:
Meet the activists trying to save old growth forests

North America’s incredible old growth forests have been almost completely destroyed by logging. In fact, in some places, these ancient giants continue to be cut down and used for timber. You will watch two short films to learn about two very different approaches to environmental activism and saving the old growth redwoods.

In the video above, David Milarch explains his incredible project: CLONING all of the ancient redwoods he can and re-planting them as a new generation.

Next, you can view the documentary LUNA The Stafford Giant TREE SIT; a film about activist Julia “Butterfly” Hill, who spent 738 days LIVING IN A TREE named Luna to save it from logging. (NOTE: This film contains some coarse language.) Watch the film here.

Now choose ONE topic to reflect on:

1. Cloning has always been a controvercial issue. Many people have ethical and personal concerns about cloning animals, and even more so with the idea of one day cloning humans. David Milarch’s project relies on cloning ancient redwood trees that are threatened. Do you support the use of cloning for endangered plant species? Why or why not? If so, do you believe there should be restrictions on who should be allowed to clone a species or where it is introduced? Write a paragraph or record a video with you response.

2. David Milarch is on a mission to replace as many redwood trees damaged by humans as he possibly can. Julia “Butterfly” Hill took drastic action to protect one ancient tree from being cut down. Do you believe that humans have a responsibility to protect and restore nature? Can you think of a situation where someone does NOT have a responsibility to nature? Can you think of a situation where someone definitely DOES have a responsibility to nature? Explain your views in a written paragraph or by recording a video.

3. Julia “Butterfly” Hill lived in a threatened, ancient tree named Luna for over TWO YEARS. She stayed in Luna’s branches through storms and bad weather, and with logging happening in the forest around her. She was at risk of serious injury or death, and as she became famous, there was a risk that someone else may try a similar protest and be hurt. And yet, her actions were ultimately successful and Luna was saved. Do you think it was worth it? How can someone decide whether to take risks for something they believe in? If the outcome had been different – either Luna had been cut down or Jennifer had been hurt – would you see things differently? Write a paragraph or record a video sharing your thoughts.

Don’t forget to add your response to your portfolio!

Make an Awesome Diorama showing the Layers of the Forest!

In this project you will make a diorama showing the layers of the forest. This project may take you more than one day to complete. Try to do a few steps each day until it’s done!

You will need:
– 4 shoeboxes (you can improvise using whatever boxes or cardboard you have on hand)
– construction paper in different colours
– playdoh or modelling clay in different colours
– paintbrush
– tempera paints
– white paper
– pencil
– coloured pencils
– scissors
– glue
– hot glue gun (if you have it)
– tape
– paper towel rolls (or branches)
– anything else you’d like to decorate your diorama: tissue paper, dried moss, natural items like bark or branches, pebbles, felt, plastic figurines, etc.

Step 1: Watch the video above. This will introduce you to the layers of the forest: SUBFLOOR, FLOOR, UNDERSTORY and CANOPY.

Step 2: Prepare your diorama structure. You will need to stack your four boxes on top of each other so that the open sides are facing forward. Check out these examples from A Faithful Attempt. If you don’t have shoeboxes, you can cut pieces of cardboard and tape or hot glue them together to create a structure similar to a bookcase with four shelves. Make sure the boxes are securely joined.

You will need to add labels for each of the layers. The bottom layer should be labeled SUBFLOOR. This is the underground area of the forest. The next level up is the forest FLOOR (the ground). The third layer is the UNDERSTORY. This is where the lower levels of your tree branches will be. On top, your fourth layer should be labeled the CANOPY. This is for the higher branches of the trees.

Step 3: Watch the video below to learn about EVERGREEN and DECIDUOUS TREES.
– What is a deciduous tree? Can you think of an example?
– What is an evergreen tree? Can you think of an example?

Step 4: Build your trees. You will need to cut holes through the layers on your boxes so that your tree trunks can pass through all the way from the bottom box to the top. This is tricky, and you may need some help. Once you have holes made, fit your “tree trunks” through them. You can make tree trunks by taping together some paper towel rolls, or just use branches from outside. You will probably need to use tape or hot glue to hold your tree trunks in place.

Step 5: Add roots and branches. Roots and branches can be made by rolling up brown paper and taping or gluing it to your tree trunk. Or, you can just cut out an outline of the root and branch shape and tape it in place. Feel free to also use natural materials like twigs and branches. For more ideas, look back at these photos. Make sure that your tree ROOTS are in the SUBFLOOR layer of your diorama. The branches should be in the UNDERSTORY and CANOPY layers. Don’t forget to add leaves or needles!

Step 6: Watch the videos below about two lifeforms found in the subfloor: Cicada larvae and salamanders!

These are both amazing creatures that can be found in the forest subfloor! Cicada nymphs live buried in the soil. Salamanders tend to live under rocks and logs where they can keep their skin moist at all times.

For the cicada nymph: simply print, colour, and cut out this cicada nymph picture from Super Coloring. (Or, you can try colouring it online before you print.) Then, glue it to the SUBFLOOR area of your diorama.

For the salamander: Grab your black and yellow playdoh or modelling clay. Watch the video below to get an idea how to make a salamander! When you are finished, you can add the salamander to your subfloor with the cicada nymph.

Step 5: Next, you will learn about an important feature of the forest FLOOR. Watch the video below to find out more about FUNGI!

for your fungi: Watch the second video below for an example of a Playdoh mushroom. Use your clay or Playdoh to make your own! Remember, fungi come in many different shapes, colours and textures, so go ahead and get creative! Add your fungi to the FLOOR section of your diorama.

Step 6: There are many animals who make the forest floor their home, including the largest forest creatures. The videos below will show you two: the Black Bear and the Moose.

for your black bear: Print, colour and cut out this black bear picture. Find a spot to glue it to the forest floor section of your diorama.

for your moose: Print, colour and cut out this moose picture from Kids Play Colour. Find a spot to glue it to the forest floor section of your diorama.

Step 7: Watch the video above to learn about woodpeckers! Woodpeckers are an important part of the forest UNDERSTORY. You will be adding them both to one of your trees!

make your woodpecker: Print, colour and cut out this pileated woodpecker picture. Find a spot to glue it to the understory section of your diorama.

Step 8: Watch the video above to learn about red squirrels! Red squirrels interact with all layers of the forest, but you will be adding yours to the CANOPY layer.

make your red squirrel: Print, colour and cut out this red squirrel picture. Find a spot to glue it toa tree branch in the canopy section of your diorama!

Books About Forests

Click on a book to buy it from Amazon. Or, you can ask for them at your local library. 

Luna & Me Read Aloud

Forest Adventure Read Aloud

NOw Let’s Have some fun!