Forest Ecology

Pinus longifolia. Public domain. Aylmer Bourke Lambert. 1803.

Activity is open to all ages and is suitable for a homeschool activity for 3-7 grade with guidance for younger grades using Georgia Performance Standards/Standards of Excellence with Science, Visual Arts & Language Arts.

Extra: Activity can be done in combination with Project Learning Tree activity “We All Need Trees” which can be adapted for PreK-6 grade in Science, Visual Arts & Language Arts.

Vocabulary:

Adaptation – How a species changes over time to help it survive in its environment
Canopy – Tallest trees in a forest; also includes animals living in that level
Decomposition – The breakdown process of organic matter through decay, rotting, animal feces
Ecology – The study of relationships between organisms and their environment
Habitat – The environment in which a species typically lives and eats
Pioneer Species – The first species to enter a new habitat
Succession – Change in different species and their community over time
Symbiosis – A biological relationship between two species
Understory – Trees and plants that live below the main canopy level of a forest

Bald cypress samples

Activity:

Go outside and find a tree in your backyard, school playground, community park, etc. Once you pick your tree, look at the different characteristics (leaf shape, size, color; bark; height, trunk width; etc.) and identify your tree. 

Once you identify your tree, take note of its habitat. Does it like shade or sun? Does it grow near the water? Is it the tallest tree around or is it in the understory? Do you notice any animals or insects on, or around, your tree? Write down as many details about your tree’s habitat as you can. Take some photos or make a drawing / painting / collage of your tree. 

Bald cypress botanical drawing. Louisiana Digital Library.

Next, do some research (computer or library) to find out more about your tree. Write a short story about your tree and include everything you saw and read about it. Include a picture of your tree or your artistic representation and send it to us: info@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

One submission will be chosen to be featured on our social media!

If you need help with identifying your tree for this activity:

Arbor Day tree identification | LeafSnap App

or email a photo of your tree or leaf to melanie@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

 

May Seeds So Summer Feeds

Watch your garden grow

Having fresh veggies is easy and fun.

Activity is open to all ages and is suitable for homeschool activity for K-12 using Georgia Performance Standards/Standards of Excellence with science, earth systems and meteorology, depending on how in depth your activity is.

Share your photos with Ogeechee Riverkeeper. Send in your sprout pictures to info@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org or tag us on social media.


Thank you to Peyton and Whitley for demonstrating!

Materials needed:
– Empty egg cartons (preferably paper/cardboard cartons)
– Spray water bottle
– Seed packets: tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, watermelons, okra, sweet peppers, and/or marigold seeds & potting soil (can be ordered online or any other ag/garden supply store)
-OR- old potato(es), if you are not able to get seeds and potting soil

For seed packets:

  1. Poke small holes in the bottom of each “egg” for water to drain out.
  2. Fill each “egg” with soil, push a finger in the middle of the dirt up to the first or second knuckle (kids with small fingers)
  3. Drop in seeds (check package for amount of seeds per “egg”).
  4. Use a water spray bottle and spritz each “egg”.
  5. Check seed sunlight/shade preferences. Since egg cartons are light, you can move them around the yard for sun/shade needs!
  6. Once the seeds sprout and start to outgrow the cartons, you can replant them in a garden bed, large pot, etc. You can plant them directly into the ground in their paper/cardboard “egg” because they will decompose; if you used styrofoam cartons, you will need to transplant them.
  7. Make sure to separate each egg either by tearing or cutting.
Seedlings

Additional resources


Potato eyes beginning to sprout

For old potatoes:

  1. Let a few potatoes grow sprouts, also known as “eyes”. These cannot be eaten so instead of throwing them away, you can plant them and they need very little care.
  2. Cut the potato in half or leave whole in most soil types, leaving the eyes exposed. They will sprout in sun or shade.
  3. Water right after you plant them and then let them do the rest of the work.
  4. Water 1-2 times per week if it has not rained.
  5. After potatoes stems have finished flowering, you can go on a scavenger hunt for the fresh, new potatoes in the soil!
Potato sprouting

Additional resources


Need to know what will grow best in our watershed? Visit the UGA Extension Service or the USDA hardiness zone maps.

Remember to share your photos with Ogeechee Riverkeeper. Send in your gardening pictures to info@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org or tag us on social media with #ORKoutside.