Resources for Grades 6-8 Activity – Our Federal Forests

Our nation’s forests are managed to support different outcomes. Students learn how forests can be managed to meet a variety of human and environmental needs and examine national parks or forests to identify challenges that forest managers face meeting different needs.

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:

Shaping Solutions (PDF)

RECOMMENDED READING

Expand your students’ learning and imaginations. Help students meet their reading goals, while building upon concepts learned in this activity, with the following children’s book recommendations:

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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

  • Sounds of Your Park

    Listening to the sounds of nature has been shown to have many health benefits. Listen remotely to sound recordings from officially protected places from around the world. The Sounds of Your Park initiative is a continuously growing collection of sounds intended to celebrate the acoustical beauty and diversity of the world’s national parks and other protected areas.

  • Indigenous Connections to PLT Activities

    The Minnesota Department of Education includes Indigenous-based learning benchmarks in science, language arts, and social studies. Learn how the Minnesota DNR worked with tribes to adapt several PLT activities to include Ojibwe and Dakota culture and knowledge, and get some tips for teaching about Indigenous Peoples with knowledge and respect. Access the Ojibwe and Dakota PLT Lessons that connect students in grades K-8 to forests using Indigenous knowledge and perspectives.

  • America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell: Wisconsin Northwoods

    This full-length 26:17-minute video is an episode of the series America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell, hosted by Rolling Stones keyboard player and Georgia family tree farmer, Chuck Leavell. Following are approximate time stamps and possible connections to specific PLT activities:

    • 2:00-7:07 – Overview of Wisconsin Forests. Chuck meets with a forester, and they talk about their personal connection to forests and how working forests can serve a variety of purposes, from wood products to recreation. Use with “If You Were the Boss” and “Our Federal Forests.”
    • 7:20-11:42 – Chuck meets with young folks in the Job Corps, and we hear about the history of the Conservation Corps and about how many people find meaningful work in forests. Use with “My Green Future.”
    • 12:00-18:40 – Chuck meets with a tree farmer who is interested in maximizing habitat for ruffed grouse. We also meet a lumber “jill” who participates in competitive timber sports and works with the tree farmer to cut a tree for grouse habitat. Use as a supplement to “Trees as Habitats” and “My Green Future.”
    • 18:56-23:00 – Chuck meets with Marshall Pecore on the Menominee Indian Reservation, which has 200,000 acres of sustainably managed forests. Pecore describes how the Menominee believe that in terms of forest management, the forest is first before profit. For example, they cut the worst trees in the forest first, not the best trees, and look at forest management from a 7th generation perspective. Use with “If You Were the Boss” or “Our Federal Forests.”

     

  • Forests at Work: Video from a Science Teacher in Indiana

    Go on an adventure with Rick Crosslin, a science teacher in Indiana, to investigate forest management in this video Forests at Work: An Indiana Expeditions Special. Students will learn how the genetic traits of seedlings can turn result in a tree farm full of magnificent hardwoods—similar to how our DNA can determine athletic ability, height, and muscle growth. Students will *virtually* follow foresters into the woodlands to learn about management practices and how these practices are changing the state’s forest composition, health, and overall recovery.

  • Make That Paper: Careers in Forestry Online Game

    Make That Paper: Careers in Forestry is an online game designed to help high school students learn about the forestry industry and career employability skills. In the game, students are managers in three different forest industry career tracks, hiring personnel, solving industry-related problems, and making sound business decisions. Objectives include maintaining sustainable, efficient, and successful management of the forest and production of forest products. The game is part of an ongoing partnership between GPB Education and Georgia Forestry Foundation to offer standards-aligned educational resources for 3rd -12th grade. It teaches students about working forests and real-world forestry jobs by simulating workplace scenarios and testing forestry industry knowledge.

  • Cool Jobs Video Series

    Want to show your students how fun, interesting, and just downright cool being a scientist can be? Share with them this Cool Jobs video series that highlights what scientists do, how they do it, and how they got their jobs. There are 40 videos highlighting a variety of green careers including BiologistWildlife Conservationist, and Zoologist.

  • PLT’s 12 Green Job Fact Sheets

    Learn more about the wide array of jobs related to forests with PLT’s 12 Green Jobs Fact Sheets, which highlights the following green jobs: Forester, Environmental Educator, GIS Specialist, Indigenous Relations Specialist, Forestry Technician, Park Ranger, Hydrologist, Silviculture Technician, Urban Forester, Machine Operator, Wildlife Biologist, and Sustainability Manager. Green jobs offer opportunities for people with diverse backgrounds, skills, interest areas, and personal qualities. Youth and adults alike might be surprised at the range of green career opportunities. These jobs help sustain forest ecosystems and ensure that forest products are produced in the most sustainable way possible also ensure that wildlife habitat is conserved, trees are replanted, and workers are treated fairly.

  • Kids and Youth—Yellowstone National Park

    Plan a virtual mini-lesson using Yellowstone National Park’s Kids and Youth section for students to learn more about America’s first national park. Through educational and enriching information, illustrations, and even sound snippets, students can explore a specific theme of the park—Geology, Hydrothermal, Wildlife, History, and Preservation. You can also guide them towards the Ask a Ranger page for common questions and answers that complement each Exploration Theme.

    (Resource for PLT’s K-8 Activity 35—Loving It Too Much, Activity 54—I’d Like to Visit a Place Where…, and Activity 34—Who Works in this Forest)

  • Natural Inquirer Scientist Cards

    Explore more than 250 different Forest Service scientist and engineer career opportunities with the Natural Inquirer’s downloadable career cards, made in partnership with Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association (CFAIA) and the US Forest Service. Available in both English and Spanish, career cards are available direct for download and will help youth explore the important characteristics of a scientist, with examples of research questions pursued by each profession, the common technology and equipment used in their research, and more!

  • Finding Your Path

    Learn more about the life of a field forester and more in this booklet Find Your Path from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. Joe Newton, once a professional football player for the Seattle Seahawks, now works for Lone Rock Timber in Roseburg, Oregon as a Field Forester. He collaborates with tree-planters, helicopter pilots, and other company staff to maintain the health and improvement of tree plantations. This booklet provides other forest-sector employee profiles – forest manager, natural resource ecologist, research economist, logging crew, millwright – offering advice, short job-descriptions, and the various curves they took on their career path.

  • Branching Out in Working Forests

    Created by Debra Wagner,  a 4th grade teacher and PLT School Coordinator at St. Paul Lutheran School in Florida. Branching out in Working Forests is a game that students can play to gather information about the value of trees as an agricultural commodity in their state. Students will summarize their stops throughout a ‘forest’ by practicing writing sentences using fractions or percentages. Wagner was named a National PLT Outstanding Educator in 2010.

    Follow these instructions for the game. You’ll need some card stock for the tree templates, 6 different yarn colors, scissors and glue. Modify the dice templates and tree station facts as needed with information appropriate to your state.

  • The Fresh Air App

    Download the Fresh Air – Hyperlocal Weather & NOAA Radar Map app to explore the weather around you using data from the U.S. NOAA Weather radar map. Visualize local temperature, precipitation, wind, and more with daily weather notifications. 

  • Discover Inspiring Women in Science: Rachel Carson

    We all know Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for pioneering research on radioactivity. But there are many more women scientists, mathematicians, and engineers who have made incredible advances in their fields. Beyond Curie is a celebration of 40 of these amazing women in STEM fields, including 16 Nobel Peace Prize winners. Each one has overcome countless challenges in the pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and impact. Use these posters to share their stories and inspire your students to consider a field in STEM. Pair this activity with a poster of Rachel Carson

  • Virtual Field Trip

    Take your students on an upcoming Virtual Field Trip. Hosted by Discover Education, virtual field trips allow your students to immerse themselves in unique learning experiences. Explore the National Archives, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, or learn more about conservation with a “Futureland” demonstration.

  • Forest Fact Break: Urban Forests

    These three 2-minute videos highlight elements of an urban forest, how they’re managed, and the community benefits. More than 80% of all Americans live in urban areas and urban forests bring important benefits to those communities. Developed by forestinfo.org and the North Carolina Forest Service, these Forest Fact Breaks are a great way to help learn more about the following topics: Urban ForestsUrban Forest Benefits, and Urban Forest Wood Usage.

  • Denali National Park, Virtually

    Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska is a great place to learn about many different types of landscapes and climates, but it may not be accessible by every classroom. Try bringing Denali to you with a virtual tour! Explore some of the research happening in Denali, paired with some striking images of plants and landscapes in the park.

  • Skype a Scientist

    The Skype a Scientist program matches more than 500 scientists with classrooms worldwide. Available for any level along the K-12 spectrum, a typical Q&A-style video chat lasts between 30 to 60 minutes and covers topics in the scientist’s area of expertise and what it’s like to be a scientist. Follow the link to browse scientists and sign up!

  • Cornucopia

    A STEM education simulation game from the California Academy of Sciences called Cornucopia is a free online resource. The game teaches students in grades 5-12 about natural resource use and management, the effect of climate conditions on water availability and food production, and the way agricultural technology impacts water use.  

  • 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.

  • Paper is Good. Pass It On

    To highlight the importance of paper in our lives, Domtar (a producer of pulp and paper products) created a Paper Because campaign featuring ads and a series of short videos to dispel some common myths about the environmental impact of paper and the use of paper in today’s digital age. “There are times when no substitute for paper will suffice; it is how great ideas begin, how the world learns, how important news gets shared and how people meaningfully connect with each other,” according to John D. Williams, Domtar President and CEO.

  • 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.

  • How Would You Manage The Forest?

    Help your students understand the delicate balance between human activity, climate change, and forest animals. This Minnesota Star Tribune article discusses the decline of the moose population. It includes a simple activity for students to explore the complex relationship between different animals and their forest ecosystems. Can you manage the forest for the benefit of one species? Get your students to answer this question for themselves as they learn how animals are connected to each other and the place they live.

  • More Than Just Parks

    More Than Just Parks have released their eighth national parks short film—Grand Teton. Explore Jackson Hole Valley and the foothills of the Teton Mountain Range, a land dominated by towering peaks, apex predators, and majestic beauty. To see more National Park films, visit More Than Just Parks.

  • Discover the Forest

    A program of the Ad Council and U.S. Forest Service, Discover the Forest offers resources that help families discover nearby forests and provides tips on how to prepare for and enjoy outdoor adventures.

  • Wilderness.net

    Learn about wilderness history, the values and benefits of wilderness, and threats to wilderness at this website.  This interagency repository of information about the more than 750 Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Park Service wilderness areas contains K-12 classroom resources.  At the website, you will find webquests, quizzes, and links to wilderness programs, along with blogs, legislation, agency policies, scientific literature, and research. 

  • National Public Lands Day (NPLD)

    Held each fall, this day celebrates service and recreation on public lands. NPLD engages adult and youth volunteers to get outdoors and improve their lands, whether at the grandest national park or at an urban park in their neighborhood. The event also encourages volunteers to explore and enjoy America’s natural wonders through outdoor recreation. After working hard, volunteers can take a hike, a swim, a bicycle ride and get healthy in America’s backyard. Find more information or register for NPLD at www.publiclandsday.org.

  • John Muir in the New World

    This 90-minute documentary explains John Muir’s influence then and now, delving into Muir’s life with reenactments filmed in high definition throughout the majestic landscapes he visited: Wisconsin, Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Alhambra Valley of California, and the glaciers of Alaska. Placing our nation’s most important natural assets in a cultural and social context, John Muir in the New World is a timely reminder of America’s unique and, ultimately, threatened ecosystems.  Visit the PBS website to watch a preview or watch the full documentary online.

  • National Park Service Podcasts

    New NPS Podcasts show students what park scientists do and provide an inside look at some of the issues facing our national parks. Most appropriate for middle and high school students, teachers can use the clips to generate discussion about real-world problems in nature and how scientists and others work to solve them.

  • Into the Outdoors – Forest Ecology

    Into the Outdoors is an Emmy award-winning TV show with an emphasis on science education for middle school-aged students. The show’s new website, intotheoutdoors.org, provides free videos and other resource links on many environmental topics to make outdoor learning exciting and fun. While there are many exciting topics to choose from (such as sustainable forestry, biodiversity, and wetlands), Into the Outdoor’s 4-part video series on Forest Ecology is a perfect fit with many Project Learning Tree activities. These 5-7 minute shorts feature middle school-aged youth that inspire all of us to take learning outdoors!

  • Forestry Careers & Degrees: A Guide for Students

    If students are considering a career in the forestry profession, they may envision spending a workday in blue jeans and hiking boots, managing wild lands and protecting nature for future generations. The reality of forestry careers, however, is somewhat different. Forestry Careers & Degrees: A Guide for Students offers a wealth of information about forestry careers, including facts and data on employment prospects, educational requirements and options, and more.

  • Agents of Discovery – Free Mobile App

    The Agents of Discovery Mobile Game is a place-based, environmental education game for iOS and Android devices that blends best practices in gaming industry technology with experiential outdoor education. It is designed to connect youth with nature, educate them about local ecosystems, and promote physical activity using readily accessible technologies. After downloading the free app, students head out to participating sites in their community and search for hidden QR codes which unlock challenges based on the mysteries of nature. Possible locations include Mount St. Helens, Los Angeles, Houston, and more. Try it today!

  • Environmental Justice Video: Reducing Pollution through Organizing

    Be inspired by the latest video in EPA’s 20th Anniversary Environmental Justice Video Series that features Penny Newman of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. Penny’s 5-minute video describes the environmental justice concerns of the Inland Valley communities in Southern California, and the ways local residents are making positive changes to protect the health of their families and neighbors. 

  • Bryce Canyon Electronic Field Trip

    Take an electronic field trip inside Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park.  During this live, one-hour podcast, students will learn about the importance of the park, hunt for signs of land and aquatic dinosaurs, explore “hoodoos” (unique limestone formations), and see animals that live in this extreme environment.

  • FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment

    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has monitored the world’s forests at 5 to 10 year intervals since 1946. The State of the World’s Forests 2020–Forests, Biodiversity and People, examines the contributions of forests, and of the people who use and manage them, to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. For the first time, this edition is a joint effort between two United Nations entities: FAO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

    In addition, this interactive report contains the main findings of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020). FRA 2020 examines the status of, and trends in, more than 60 forest-related variables in 236 countries and territories in the period 1990–2020. The information provided by FRA presents a comprehensive view of the world’s forests and the ways in which the resource is changing. Such a clear global picture supports the development of sound policies, practices and investments affecting forests and forestry.

    The 2015 FRA examined the status and trends at the time for more than 90 variables and all types of forests in 233 countries and areas. 

  • Free National Parks Short Films

    Think virtual field trip! Brothers Will and Jim Pattiz are media professionals who have a passion for our national parks. Over the past year, they put their passion to work by producing short films for several of the parks. Their long-range plan is to create a short film for each of the 59 U.S. National Parks to help build a greater awareness of our national parks system, and encourage families to plan trips of their own. Check out their website at morethanjustparks.com and view this 5-minute video on Joshua Tree National Park to sample their work!

  • 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.

     

  • Greener Blue Jeans

    Who doesn’t like blue jeans? The indigo dye that provides their distinctive color holds up to detergents, but ages into that soft, worn look. Indigo is one of the oldest dyes used for coloring textiles. For thousands of years it was extracted from tropical plants in Asia, the Middle East and the Americas, with various unpleasant side effects. This Berkeley University of California article describes the research involved in finding a cleaner route to produce the iconic dye. 

  • LearnForests.org Career Videos

    Check out the Oregon-based website LearnForests.org for a compilation of nearly 30 videos targeting Grades 4-12 about careers in the forest sector. In addition to valuable career insights, the videos contain various forest facts that are both interesting and informational. The first-person accounts of those who currently have forest careers provide an insightful resource for those considering a future in the field of forestry.