Ecology: Trees, Leaves and Cones - A Look at Forest Biomes

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Objectives:

  • The students will be able to describe the characteristics of the forest biomes.

  • The students will be able to describe the plants and animals of the forest biomes.

  • The students will be able to explain the difference between the taiga forest and the temperate forest.

  • The students will be able to locate the forest biomes on a map.

Questions that encompasses the objective:

  • Think about the forest. Do you think forests are found all over the world?

  • What animals do you think live in the forest?

Prepare the Learner: Activating Prior Knowledge. 

How will students prior knowledge be activated?

Warm up by asking students:

  • What do you know about the forest?

Common Core State Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1 B

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.4

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.2

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2 B

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.1

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.4

Materials and Free Resources to Download for this Lesson: 

**A variation to this activity could be to provide real/ faux decorative leaves.**

**There are 4 stations, with 7 leaves per station; no particular grouping of leaves**​

Input:
What is the most important content in this lesson?
To reach this lesson’s objective, students need to understand:

  • The characteristics of forest biomes.

  • The plants and animals that live in the forest biomes.

  • The difference between the taiga forest and the temperate forest.

  • The location of the forest biomes on a map.

How will the learning of this content be facilitated?

  • The teacher will begin the class by reviewing the Earth’s biomes. The teacher should explain to the students that today’s lesson will focus on the forest biomes.

  • Next, the teacher should show the video “Temperate Coniferous Forest- Video Learning- WizScience.com” (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmVxF22LA64). The video is about three minutes long and discusses some interesting facts about the temperate coniferous forest. After the video, the teacher should begin about the content/ what the students observed.

  • Next, the teacher will hand out the worksheet packet “The Forest Biome” If it is possible, project each page of “The Forest Biome” worksheet packet onto the board using a projector or put into a PowerPoint document and project. As the teacher explains, the students will fill in the blank spaces on their worksheet. The teacher should begin with “The Forest Biome” worksheet.

**The student worksheet does not contain all of this information. Use this as a guide to help explain the forest biome more in depth to the students**

  • There are three different types of forests: rainforests, temperate forests, and taiga forests.

  • In the tropics, you find rainforests. In the north, you find taiga forests, and between the two, you find temperate forests.

  • The four characteristics of temperate forests include:

    • Temperature; the temperature varies in the temperate forests—it is not extremely hot or cold.

    • Four seasons: summer, fall, winter, and spring.

    • Rain; the temperate forest receives 30-60 inches of rain a year

    • Fertile soil

  • Temperate forests can be found half way between the equator and the poles.

  • The three main types of temperate forests include:

    • Coniferous: made of conifer trees, which include cypress, cedar, fir, redwood, and pine trees. Instead of leaves, these trees have needles; instead of flowers, these trees have cones.

    • Broad-Leafed: made of broad-leafed trees, which include elm, walnut, chestnut, oak, maple, and hickory trees. The leaves of these trees turn different colors in the fall.

    • Mixed Coniferous and Broad-Leafed: a combination of both types of trees

  • Temperate forests can be found in: parts of Russia, Japan, Eastern China, Eastern North America, Europe, Southeast Australia, and New Zealand.

  • Deciduous: leaf-shedding

  • In the temperate deciduous forest, there are five zones:

    • First- Tree Stratum Zone: very tall trees make up this zone (maple, elm, oak); they range between 60 and 100 feet.

    • Second- Small Tree & Sapling Zone: small, short, young trees make up this zone.

    • Third- Shrub Zone: shrubs such as, huckleberries and mountain laurels are found in this zone.

    • Fourth- Herb Zone: small herbal plants, such as ferns, are found in this zone.

    • Fifth- Ground Zone: final zone; includes lichens and mosses.

  • The taiga biome is also known as the coniferous or boreal forest.

  • Taiga forests can be found across North America (mountainous regions), Europe, Asia, and along the border of the Arctic Tundra.

  • The taiga forests of North America were once covered with glaciers. When the glaciers receded, depressions were left. These deposits turned into lakes.

  • The taiga forests have long, cold winters and short, mild and wet summers.

  • Arctic air that blows from the tundra can make winter days frigid.

  • Due to the tilt of the axis, winter days are short and summer days are long.

  • Yearly precipitation, from snow and rain, is 10-30 inches.

Information Sources:

http://kids.nceas.ucsb.edu/biomes/temperateforest.html 

http://kids.nceas.ucsb.edu/biomes/taiga.html

http://www.ducksters.com/science/ecosystems/temperate_forest_biome.php

  • The second worksheet the teacher should review is the “Who Lives in the Forest?” worksheet.

**The student worksheet does not contain all of this information. Use this as a guide to help explain the animals of the forest biome more in depth to the students**

  • In the temperate forest, there are a wide variety of animals.

  • Animals of the temperate forest include: black bears, mountain lions, deer, squirrels, turkeys, fox, skunks, porcupines, wolves, raccoons, and hawks.

  • Many of the animals eat the nuts that grow on the trees.

  • Animals of the temperate forest need to adapt to cold winters and hot summers. Many have adapted to the environment in the following ways:

    • Stay Active: rabbits, squirrel, fox, and deer stay active during the winter. Squirrels bury food in the fall and dig it up in the winter.

    • Migration: birds, such as Canadian Geese, migrate to warmer climates in the winter; they return in the spring.

    • Hibernation: animals such as, black bears, hibernate to stay warm during the winter. These animals build up extra fat in their bodies and then live off the fat during the winter.

    • Die and Lay Eggs: insects cannot survive during the winter and they die off. Before dying off, they lay eggs that will hatch in the spring.

  • Many animals of the taiga forest have thick fur, which helps them to survive the frigid temperatures.

  • Many animals that cannot survive the frigid winter migrate to warmer areas.

  • Animals of the taiga forest include: squirrels, jays, ermine, moles, deer, moose, elk, snowshoe hares, grizzly bears, lynxes, and wolverines.

  • The third worksheet the teacher should review is the “Plants of the Forest” worksheet.

**The student worksheet does not contain all of this information. Use this as a guide to help explain the plants of the forest biome more in depth to the students**

  • In the temperate forest, forests grow in layers. The top layer is called the canopy; the middle layer is called the understory; the third layer is called the forest floor.

  • Many of the plants in the temperate region lose their leaves and rely on sap to survive the winter.

  • Plants of the temperate forest have adapted to survive the seasons. The leaves of deciduous trees are broader in the summer; this helps with photosynthesis. In the fall, the chlorophyll in the leaves begins to break down and they turn red, orange, and yellow (fall leaf colors). These trees cannot protect their leaves in the winter, so they loose them. The spot where the leaves grow from is closed up until the spring.

  • In the taiga forest, the most common trees are coniferous (cone-bearing) trees.

  • Conifer trees, also known as evergreens, include: pines, spruces, and firs.

  • Deciduous trees are also common in the taiga forest. These include: oak, birch, willow, and alder.

  • Soil in the taiga forest is rocky, acidic, and thin.

  • Pine needles help the tree keep water.

  • The pointy shape of the conifer helps to prevent snow from building up on the tree and causing damage.

  • The last worksheet that should be reviewed is the “Forests of the World” worksheet.

**Refer to the teacher copy of the worksheet**

  • After the worksheet is completed, the students will participate in an activity called “Guess the Leaf”. The students will work in groups of three. Each student will get a “Guess the Leaf” worksheet and “Leaf Identification Chart” information sheet. At desks around the room will be different leaves; the desks will be renamed “Forests” (i.e., Forest 1, Forest 2, etc.). The students will look at the leaves and use their “Leaf Identification Chart” to determine which leaf it is. The students should write the names of the leaves on their worksheet. Allow the students to work for about 10-15 minutes. Reconvene and discuss when the students are finished.

  • The final assessment will be for the students to fill out a Venn Diagram comparing the three types of forest:

Time/Application
3-5 minutes
Guided Introduction

Review the class/ agenda with the students:

10 minutes

Introductory Activity:

15 Minutes

“The Forest Biome” Worksheet Packet

  • Give each student a “The Forest Biome” worksheet packet.

  • Project each page of the worksheet packet onto the board either through a projector or PowerPoint presentation.

  • Review the worksheets in this order: “Life in the Forest”; “Who Lives in the Forest?”; “Plants of the Forest”; “Forests of the World”

15 Minutes

Activity: “Guess the Leaf”

  • Have the students break into groups of three.

  • Give each student a “Guess the Leaf” worksheet and “Leaf Identification Chart” information sheet.

  • At desks around the room will be different leaves; the desks will be renamed “Forests” (i.e., Forest 1, Forest 2, etc.).

  • The students will look at the leaves and use their “Leaf Identification Chart” to determine which leaf it is. The students should write the names of the leaves on their worksheet.

  • At the end of 15 minutes, have the students return to their desks and discuss the activity.

Closure/Assessment
15 minutes

  • As an independent assessment, the students will fill out the provided Venn Diagram comparing the three different types of forests.


Individualized Instruction/Scaffolding

English Language Learners will be supported in this lesson through data-based heterogeneous grouping, verbal and written repetition of new vocabulary words, and multiple representation of vocabulary words through printed images and video.

Ecosystems, Biomes, and Habitats PowerPoint and Activities
Classifying Animals PowerPoint & Activities

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© 2017 by Elementary School Science. 

ryan@elementaryschoolscience

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