Resources for Grades 6-8 Activity – Field, Forest, and Stream

Students conduct a field study of three different environments as they focus on sunlight, soil moisture, temperature, wind, water flow, plants, and animals in each environment. By comparing different environments, students will learn how nonliving elements influence living elements in an ecosystem.

For the complete activity and more like this, purchase the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide at Shop.PLT.org and/or attend a professional development training in your state.

Below are some supporting resources for this activity.

STUDENT PAGES

Download the copyright-free student pages that are included with this activity:

Team Chart (PDF)

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

The following tools and resources may be used to enhance the activity.

  • Find the Birds

    Find the Birds is a free educational mobile game about birds and conservation. Players explore real habitats and find real birds with images, video, and birdsong from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library. Featuring realistic habitats, birds and conservation quests, Find the Birds is a way to introduce generations, young and old, to the joy of birds and why they need our protection.

  • iBiome Digital Games

    The iBiome series of educational STEM games invites students to play while learning about environmental science. Build virtual ecosystems to study human impacts on the environment and explore what people can do to help.

  • Video: Wildlife Habitat

    Wildlife Habitat.” This 7:42-minute video describes how the habitat requirements for different animals are diverse and ever-changing, and how most Great Lakes States vertebrate species require or prefer at least one forest type for part of their lifecycle. It is one of a series of BeLeaf It or Not! videos by Michigan State University Extension, which are geared for students.

  • Can Plants Help Slow Soil Erosion?

    This activity from Scientific American called Can Plants Help Slow Soil Erosion? helps students learn how soil erosion causes ecological problems, pollutes waterways, and increases the risk of natural disasters. Students complete an experiment to test the impact of methods to prevent soil erosion.

  • Into the Outdoors: Physical Science Fundamentals

    Into the Outdoors empowers students and inspires critical thinking with over 150 videos! This video on Physical Science called “Ice Caves of Lake Superior” offers students the chance to understand fundamentals of the field. The video brings students inside Northern Wisconsin’s Ice Caves along the shores of the Great Lakes. Students will learn more about when they were formed and how they have evolved over time due to erosion and temperature variations.  

  • Fresh Solutions: Water Use and Conservation

    Videos from California Academy of Sciences explore today’s environmental issues related to water use, from water shortage to waste water recycling. Intended for middle school students, these short videos come with background information for better understanding. You can extend the concepts covered by facilitating a student-led discussion or making connections to the Next Generation Science Standards.

  • Junior Ranger Activity Book

    In 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrated a milestone birthday, 100 years! In celebration of its centennial, NPS created the Centennial Junior Ranger Activity Book. Explore the history of the National Park Service and complete fun activities with this printable book. While this book is geared for 4th-grade students, all are welcome to enjoy it.

  • Conservation Tales: The Cerulean Warbler

    Have your students learn alongside Alyssa, a young girl who gets to see firsthand how scientific research can help protect endangered and vulnerable species. This Conservation Tales book focuses on the tale of the Cerulean Warbler, a small songbird endangered in Indiana and vulnerable in other states. The book’s author shadowed researchers at a scientific field site to create this book.

  • STEM Teaching Tools

    The University of Washington’s Institute of Science and Math created Practice Briefs.  These free articles highlight ways of working on specific issues that come up during STEM teaching. These briefs helps K-12 educators and administrators stay informed on teaching STEM issues, including STEM issues relating to teaching NGSS and implementing meaningful STEM learning. Each brief is separated into digestible sections and includes recommended actions for educators.

  • Interactive Water Cycle

    The U.S. Geological Survey’s interactive water cycle shows the various stages, actors, and components of the water cycle. There are three different versions of this resource for various ages as well as several languages.

  • Find Nearby Trails and Parks

    AllTrails is a free app that helps users discover the outdoors. Use it to find a hiking path suitable for children, to search for local places to bike or fish, or to plan a national park visit.

  • Geoscience Career Videos

    The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) has put together two new videos that highlight potential paths for high school students interested in a geoscience career. The first video titled Groundwater Careers includes interviews with college students and professionals who discuss their field work, lab work, and passion for becoming an environmentalist. The second video titled Groundwater is Cool provides important facts, figures, and profound statistics about the world’s groundwater use and thus the need for groundwater professionals.

  • Ecology Food Chart

    This document helps to expand the vocabulary in Field, Forest & Stream. The quest for taking a closer look at interconnections concludes with food chain and food web links.

  • Web Soil Survey from the USDA

    This is a website that contains the web soil survey from the USDA.

  • EarthViewer App

    Have you ever wondered what the Earth looked like 400 million years ago? With EarthViewer, a free iPad application, users can explore the Earth’s geologic history. The app tracks the planet’s continental shifts, changes in climate, and explores biodiversity levels over the last 540 million years. Combining visual analysis withe hard data, the app can help students make connections between geological and biological change. 

  • Unlock the Secrets in the Soil

    Check out the infographic from the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service! These infographics colorfully illustrate soil health: what soil is made of, what’s underneath, and what it does. 

  • SoilWeb

    A free app that can be downloaded onto Apple and Android devices. A more technical application, SoilWeb allows users to access GPS based, real-time USDA-NRCS soil survey data. Using your geographic location, this app retrieves soil type summaries, including soil series names and image profiles.

  • Encounters: Wild Explorer

    The public radio program Encounters: Radio Experiences in the North explores the natural history of Alaska and the Far North. An accompanying website offers K-12 teachers links to the episodes as well as resources, such as slideshows, videos, and sound clips, introducing the animals and habitats of the regions: beavers, bears, caribou, humpback whales, boreal forests, moose, and others.

  • WildLab Bird

    A free app that can be downloaded onto any Apple device (try iBird Lite for Android). Use WildLab Bird to learn the basics of bird identification. This application uses audio, photographs, maps, and the process of elimination to help identify over 200 bird species. Sightings can also be entered into a national bird watching database for comparison. 

  • Every Kid Outdoors – Free Passes for 4th Graders

    Do you teach 4th grade students? Every Kid Outdoors was created so fourth graders and their families could get a chance to experience our federal parks, lands, and waters and discover our wildlife, resources, and history for free. Educators can visit https://everykidoutdoors.gov/educators.htm to get passes, download activities, or plan a life-changing field trip for your fourth-grade students. The Every Kid Outdoors website is full of additional resources to help you plan the perfect trip for your students. Plus, check out Project Learning Tree’s suggestions for family activities.