Celebrate the Beauty of Wildlife

Take advantage pupils' spring fever by learning about trees and wildlife.

By Cathy Neushul

Frog in leaves

As spring is upon us, the birds are out in force, the flowers are blooming, and the trees are green and lush. It is the perfect time for your class to learn about the wildlife around them. You can do this by discussing both the trees, and the animals that live in them.

Learning about Trees

There are many different ways you can teach your class about trees and their importance. Lessons could begin with a walk outside. As you walk, have learners identify the types of trees they see. Then, they can discuss which animals use and depend on these trees for food, shelter, or resources. Once you are back in the classroom, take some time to research the trees and animals you discussed on your walk. Or, assign the research as a project.  

Another way to celebrate spring and wildlife, is by showing your class pictures of the trees in the Amazon rainforest. Talk about which animals live in, or depend on, the rainforest's trees. In addition, take time to discuss the medicines and other resources that come from this lush and beautiful wilderness area. As the Amazonian rainforest is cut down, the vegetation and wildlife are not the only victims; the entire world is affected. 

Attracted to Raccoons

If you’ve ever had an encounter with a raccoon, you know that they may look cute and cuddly from afar, but they are quite are off-putting once you get up close. For some reason, people are fascinated by these furry animals. Even though your students have to accept that they won’t be able to have a raccoon as a pet, they may still find learning about this animal engaging.

Here are some facts you can share with your class:

  • Raccoons are nocturnal.
  • They are omnivores and eat almost anything, including fish, mice, insects, fruit, plants and trash.
  • They may make their homes in a tree hole, log, or even inside a house.
  • An adult raccoon weighs around 30 pounds. However, there have been raccoons that weighed as much as 50 pounds.
  • Baby raccoons are born with their eyes and ears closed.

Raccoons are often seen scavenging through trash. They are adept at getting into secure areas. They are also fearless. As more trees and open areas become developed, raccoons have to scavenge to find food. This is why they are into peoples’ trash cans. Obviously, there are plenty of ways you can use this as a springboard for small group studies, discussions, or research.

Intrigued by Owls

Even though we often see and talk about owls, there is a lot we don’t know about these animals. Just recently, scientists have discovered some interesting things about this bird. Here are some of the findings reported in a recent New York Times article called “Long Cloaked in Mystery, Owls Start Coming into Their Own”

  • Young barn owls can be generous. They regularly share portions of their food with their smaller siblings.
  • Owls have a language for communicating with each other. They use a complex set of calls, including trills, barks, and hoots to communicate.
  • Aeronautical engineers are studying the design of owls’ wings since these animals can fly almost silently.

After researching owls, students can share their results and create a visual representation of their findings. Perhaps they want to make a poster, a PowerPoint, a movie, or a diorama. Whatever captures their interest and keeps them thinking and learning about this majestic species would be great

Address Trees and Wildlife in Your Classroom:

My Personal Folktale

In order to delve into the importance of trees, pupils listen to folktales based on nature. They categorize the trees in the stories based on the country of origin and tree type.

Trees As Habitats

Take your class on a trip to a local park or open space with a variety of trees. They take notes on the trees, recording their observations.

A Rottin’ Place to Live

Give your class a hands-on lesson in decomposition. If possible, find an area with rotten logs and take them to see the site. Then, collect twigs, bark, and leaves in a paper sack. Bring the items back to class and watch decomposition in action.

Tree Detectives

Have your class be tree detectives. They can identify a variety of trees using a list of characteristics. They identify the trees by answering questions about the color, shape, and size of the leaves, among other characteristics. If going outside isn’t feasible, this is easy to adapt to the classroom using pictures found on the Internet.

Science Guide

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Cathy Neushul