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Lesson Plans
Forest Types



Forest Types

Grade Level

  • Grade 5

Main Idea

Like many other species, all forests are different. Like a chocolate cake they have layers and like animal they have different types. When all elements are combined, forests become unique of where they reside.

Subject Areas

  • English Language Arts
  • Fine Arts
  • Science

Objectives

Students will be able to describe:

  • The 5 layers of a forest.
  • The 3 types of forests.
  • What animals may live in certain forests.

Teacher Notes

A "Teacher Background Information" handout is available for additional teaching notes.

Materials

  1. "Teacher Background Information" handout
  2. "Forest Layers" handout
  3. "Forest Types" handout
  4. "Leaf Cut Out" handout
  5. "Animals in the Forest" handout
  6. "Forest Crossword Puzzle" handout
  7. Pencil crayons
  8. Scissors

Vocabulary

Rainforest
a tropical woodland with an annual rainfall of at least 100 inches (254 centimeters) and marked by lofty broad-leaved evergreen trees forming a continuous canopy.
Coniferous Forest
any of an order (Coniferous) of mostly evergreen trees and shrubs including forms (as pines) with true cones and others (as yews).
Deciduous Forest
falling off or shed seasonally or at a certain stage of development in the life
Canopy
A layer of forest foliage that is laterally continuous and usually distinct vertically from other layers.
Understory
an underlying layer of vegetation; specifically: the vegetative layer and especially the trees and shrubs between the forest canopy and the ground cover

Outline

  1. Ask class to close their eyes and pretend that they are walking through a forest. What do they see?
    1. Combine answers on the board.
    2. If students do not touch on the following, ask if they may see these items.
      1. Birds
      2. Sun
      3. Bushes
      4. Leaves
      5. Branches
      6. Soil
      7. Grass
      8. Moss
  2. Ask class to think of something that may have layers. Use "Teacher Background Information" sheet to stimulate discussion.
    1. Explain to class that a forest has layers just like everything they had just mentioned. Tell students that forests have 5 layers.
      1. Distribute "Forest Layers" worksheet to each student. Read the characteristics of each layer from the "Teacher Background Information" sheet. After reading characteristics of each layer to the class, have students complete the worksheet.
  3. Ask class to brainstorm animals that have different types. For example there are different types of bears. Use the "Teacher Background Information" sheet to stimulate discussion.
    1. Explain to class that just like animals, Forests have different types.
      1. There are 3 different types of forests and each forest has different temperatures, vegetations and rainfall.
  4. Distribute "Forest Types" handout to each student. After reading "Forest Types" from the "Teacher Background Information" sheet, have students complete the worksheet.
  5. Have students imagine they are in a rainforest, what does it look like?
    1. Most students will say that it looks like a jungle.
    2. In fact, a rainforest does not look like a jungle at all.
      1. The floor of a rainforest is actually bare of vegetation.
        • This is because the Trees grow very tall and create a canopy that protects the floor of the rainforest.
        • The canopy blocks out sunlight and dampers wind and rain.
        • A flashlight may be more useful in the rainforest instead of a machete as seen in most movies.
        • When hiking, you may not feel raindrops right away during a rainstorm because the canopy plants about collect most of the rain.
  6. Make wall Trees!!
    1. Divide the class into 3 groups. (Coniferous, Deciduous and Rainforest)
    2. Each student in a group will name one thing that characterizes their forest on their "Leaf Cut Out" sheet provided and then decorate according to the forest it may be in.
    3. When all of the leaves/pinecones are done, post them on a construction paper cut out of a large tree trunk a the wall in the classroom.
    4. There will be 3 trees on the wall at the end, Coniferous, Deciduous and Rainforest, all containing characteristic leaves by the students.
  7. Have each student choose an animal from the "Animals in the Forest" worksheet and write a paragraph of the following:
    1. What it may eat/drink?
    2. What it may look like?
    3. What forest it lives in?
    4. Why it lives in that forest?
    5. What the forest may look like?
  8. As a take home activity distribute the "Forest Crossword Puzzle" to each student.

Further Resources

www.theexplorationplace.com

Teacher Background Information

Items with Layers:

  • Cakes
  • Books
  • Ground
  • Hamburger

Animal Species:

Cat
lion, house cat, lynx, tiger
Snake
Corn snake, rattle snake, python
Bear
Grizzly, black, polar, brown
Bird
blue, robin, canary, crow
Fish
trout, salmon, gold, cat

Characteristics of Forest Layers

The canopy has the highest tree tops of the three levels, and it is perhaps the most exciting, considering the wildlife which resides there. The canopy houses many different types of birds seeking sunlight. Normally, vegetation is very compact and has treetops, vines and other plants all competing for sunlight. Most species of monkeys are found primarily in the canopy of the Central and South American rainforests.

The understory of the forest includes the trunks and small branches of trees, and all the plants found in between the ground and the sun drenched treetops.

The forest floor is the lowest of the three levels, and it is home to massive tree roots, ferns, and other land plants. It is here that you might be able find the largest animals of tropical rainforests, the Tapir (a relative to the horse) and large cats like the Jaguar prowling around. In the rainforest, most animals live in the canopy. In the Northern Coniferous forest, most of the life is small and lives in the forest floor.

Forest Types

Coniferous Forests

The Temperature is between -40 and 20C. There is between 300 and 900 mm of rainfall per year. The vegetation consists of mostly evergreens, trees that grow needles instead of leaves and cones instead of flowers. These trees keep their needles all year to help the trees survive in cold environments. They are located in Canada, Europe and the United States. They are in an area that has cold, long, snow winters and warm, humid summers.

Temperate Deciduous Forests

The temperature is between -30C and 30C. There is between 750 and 1,500 mm of rainfall per year. The vegetation consists of broadleaf trees. These trees are most notable because they go through the 4 seasons. Leaves change color in the Autumn, fall off in the Winter and grow back in the Spring. Because it gets really cold in the winter, this adaptation allows the trees to survive in the winter by going to sleep. They are located in Canada, Asia, Europe, Japan, and Eastern United States.

Rain Forests

The temperature is between 20 and 25C. There is between 2,000 and 10,000 mm of rain fall per year, it rains all year round. The vegetation consists of vines and palm trees. The majority of household plants come from the rainforest. Rainforests cover less then 2% of the land on the earth and house 50% of all life on the planet.

Forest Layers

Draw a line connecting the right definition with the terms.

TermDefinition
Canopy Layerhas many different types of birds
has many bats looking for food at night
Understory layerLowest of three levels
Highest of three levels
Forest floorHas tree roots and ferns
Has trunks and small branches

Forest Layers

Answer Key

Draw a line connecting the right definition with the terms.

TermDefinition
Canopy Layerhas many different types of birds (canopy layer)
has many bats looking for food at night (understory layer)
Understory layerLowest of three levels (forest floor)
Highest of three levels (canopy layer)
Forest floorHas tree roots and ferns (forest floor)
Has trunks and small branches (understory layer)

Forest Types

Write the following tree characteristics in the following table.

Tree Characteristics:

  • -40°C to 20°C
  • 300 mm to 900 mm rainfall
  • Trees with needles (evergreens)
  • -30°C to 30°C
  • Palm Tress
  • 750 mm to 1,500 mm rainfall
  • Trees with leaves
  • 20°C to 25°C
  • 2,000 mm to 10,000 mm rainfall
CHARACTERISTICS
TemperatureVegetationRain Fall
TREE TYPESConiferous   
Temperate Deciduous   
Rain Forest   

Forest Types

Answer Key

Write the following tree characteristics in the following table.

Tree Characteristics:

  • -40°C to 20°C
  • 300 mm to 900 mm rainfall
  • Trees with needles (evergreens)
  • -30°C to 30°C
  • Palm Tress
  • 750 mm to 1,500 mm rainfall
  • Trees with leaves
  • 20°C to 25°C
  • 2,000 mm to 10,000 mm rainfall
CHARACTERISTICS
TemperatureVegetationRain Fall
TREE TYPESConiferous-40°C to 20°CTrees with needles (evergreens)300 mm to 900 mm rainfall
Temperate Deciduous-30°C to 30°CTrees with leaves750 mm to 1,500 mm rainfall
Rain Forest20°C to 25°CPalm Tress2,000 mm to 10,000 mm rainfall

Deciduous Forest

Wall Tree

Rainforest

Wall Tree

Coniferous Forest

Wall Tree

Animals in the Forest

Write a short essay on the description of one animal from the list below.

  1. What it may eat/drink?
  2. What it may look like?
  3. What forest it lives in?
  4. Why it lives in that forest?

Beaver

The beaver is a strong swimmer and can swim up to 5 miles per hour. The beaver can swim underwater for up to 15 minutes. Beavers live in forests in North America and in parts of Europe and Asia. Beavers do not hibernate over winter, but they will stay in their lodge, where they have stored enough food to last until spring. Beavers are herbivores (plant-eaters). They eat tree bark, leaves, roots, twigs, and water plants.

Coniferous Forest

Bears

Brown or Girzzly bears are large mammals that live in cool mountain forests, meadows, and river valleys. Widespread in the Northern Hemisphere, brown bears are found in North America, Europe, and Asia. Although they sleep in dens (caves, hollow logs, or holes they dig) during the winter, they are not true hibernators and can be easily awakened. Brown bears have a life span of about 25 years in the wild. Brown bears are omnivores who eat plants, roots, berries, fungi, fish, small mammals, and large insects.

Coniferous Forest

Raccoon

Raccoons are small, very adaptable mammals from North and South America. They live in a variety of habitats, including marshes and forests. Raccoons are omnivores; they will eat almost anything, including frogs, crayfish, birds, mice (and other small mammals), fruit, nuts, plants, crops, and garbage. Raccoons find much of their food in water.

Temperate Deciduous Forest

Porcupine

The North American Porcupine is a well-protected, plant-eating rodent that spends much of its time in trees, looking for food. They live in forests, deserts, and grasslands in much of North America. North American Porcupines are herbivores (plant-eaters) that eat leaves, bark, evergreen needles, buds, twigs, fruit, and salt.

Temperate Deciduous Forest

Leopards

Leopards are widely-distributed wild cats that live in rainforests, woodlands, plains, deserts, and shrubby areas. They are found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and parts of China, India, Siberia, and Southeast Asia. Leopards are a threatened species due to loss of habitat, loss of prey, and over-hunting. These large cats are carnivores (meateaters). They hunt a wide range of mammals, reptiles, birds, crabs, and fish.

Rain Forest

Gorilla

Gorillas are predominantly herbivores, eating mostly plant material. They forage for food in the forests during the day. They eat leaves, fruit, seeds, tree bark, plant bulbs, tender plant shoots, and flowers. They have been known to eat various parts of over 200 different plant species. Occasionally, gorillas supplement their diet with termites and ants. Gorillas rarely drink water; the water contained in their diet is apparently enough to sustain them. An average adult male eats approximately 50 pounds of food a day. Gorillas live in tropical rain forests (in the forest edges and clearings), wet lowland forests, swamps, and abandoned fields.

Rain Forest

Unique Forests

Words

  • CANOPY
  • CONIFEROUS
  • DECIDUOUS
  • FERN
  • HERB
  • LITTER
  • RAINFOREST
  • SHRUB
  • TEMPERATE
  • UNDERSTORY

Unique Forests

Answer Key

Words

  • CANOPY
  • CONIFEROUS
  • DECIDUOUS
  • FERN
  • HERB
  • LITTER
  • RAINFOREST
  • SHRUB
  • TEMPERATE
  • UNDERSTORY

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