How to Make a Plant Field Guideby: Megan Franks and Rebecca Vore

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Every year, an elementary school celebrates different aspects of Central Texas ecology. This year, they focused on Blackland Prairie, the ecoregion on which the school is located. A schoolwide event at the end of the year offers students the opportunity to teach their parents and their peers what they’ve learned. The Fourth- and fifth-grade science classes produced a campus field guide to showcase their school’s gardens to the event attendees. Completing this project gave students a deeper understanding of why they planted native or adapted plants in their garden and how these plants are adapted to the Blackland Prairie.

  • Elementary
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  • on Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:45 PM

Students worked with teachers to design a field guide to the plants located in their school gardens (including identifying invasive species). The authors present the lesson as a guided inquiry activity, where students are encouraged to suggest information and formatting for their guides. They do a good job of providing directions for others who would like to integrate a project like this and resources for assistance and support. This activity could be done for any grade level from intermediate on up and in a modified form for younger students.

Tina Harris  (Fairmount, IN)
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)

  • on Sun Sep 11, 2011 12:03 AM

Fourth and fifth grade students set out to create a field guide of their school environment. The teachers incorporated the chicken coop, small pond, and 10 different gardens on their campus into their outdoor environmental learning lab. They focused on the Prairie Ecosystem in their unit of study to allow students to utilize the outdoor facilities. As a result, students showcased their school surroundings to show parents and other students what they had learned at the annual end-of-the year school wide event. In order to complete their field guides, students needed to learn about the local flora and how they contributed (or didn’t) to the local prairie ecosystem. They learned the difference between a native and an invasive species and were able to share what they had learned with their parents and their peers. A sample field guide rubric is included in the article

Carolyn Mohr  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL)

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