Submitted: The Two Sides Team October 6, 2016
The majority of students today live in urban environments and have limited opportunities to explore and become familiar with a forest and how forest products are made, including paper.
Helping teachers and students increase their understanding of complex environmental issues, with a particular focus on the forest, is the goal of our most recent Fact Sheet: Teacher Resources Related to Paper, Forest Products and the Environment, a comprehensive list of websites that provide useful teaching resources.
The list includes links to materials for all educational levels about trees, sustainable forest management, biodiversity, wildlife, recycling and much more in the form of lesson plans, power points and videos that can be used in the classroom, outdoor activities, data analysis tools, contests and interactive games as well as teacher’s tours and workshops about sustainable forestry across the U.S. and Canada.
For the kindergarten to grade 6 group, there are many opportunities for entertaining and educational activities that are mostly available at no cost. Here are some great examples (and you can see many more on our fact sheet!):
Forest Academy is a free online game that focuses on the natural environment. Follow Owen the owl through a variety of forest landscapes, complete with fun facts and interactive quizzes. Create an owl avatar, earn merit badges and aim to graduate from The Forest Academy today! Useful background information, experiments and a comprehensive photo album of trees of North America are provided for teachers of grades 4-6. Forest Academy is created by Domtar, a company that designs, manufactures, markets and distributes a wide range of paper products.
Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an award-winning environmental education program where the forest is used as a “window on the world” to increase students’ understanding of the environment and to stimulate critical and creative thinking. Developed by the American Forest Foundation for teachers and other educators, 96 multi-disciplinary activities can be found inside PLT’s Pre K-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide – each one tailored to specific grade levels and learning objectives. Topics include forests, wildlife, water, air, energy, waste, climate change and invasive species and lessons provide a structured alignment to both national academic benchmarks and state-specific standards. Training, either in person or on-line, is required to get the guide and costs about $40.
Forestinfo.org collects and evaluates existing educational materials related to forests, forest management, and forest products and determines if they are scientifically accurate before including them in their extensive data base. Created by Dovetail Partners, a non-profit organization that informs about the impacts and trade-offs of environmental decisions, the website has a list of forestry-related resources for teachers throughout North America that are conveniently grouped according to grade level. In the “Teacher’s Tools: K-6” topics range from biodiversity to fire to forest products to ecology and wildlife. Click on “Discover” you will find “Forest Fast Breaks” which simplify complex forestry topics into concise, engaging animated shorts with sound effects and narration. The videos of sustainable forest management practices, products that forests provide and the benefits of utilizing wood are suitable for grade 3 and up.
“Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?” is published by the USDA Forest Service and was written to bridge the knowledge gap that often exists among young children between protecting trees and using wooden products. It describes various reasons why trees are often cut down, including disease, pests and forest management considerations and highlights the fact that trees are renewable resources. A guide on how to plant a tree and tree care resources are also included.
The education of children about environmental issues is essential in today’s world where climate change, the depletion of natural resources, hunger and poverty are regular and alarming subjects in the news. Understanding the complexity of the facts and providing tools to analyze them empowers children to find solutions. This list of resources for teachers provides a balanced view of many environmental issues with a particular focus on the forest industry.