Winter in the Georgia Woods

Watch the video clip of Mel taking a tour through the woods:


  • Guidebook (any plant or animal kind based on where you live) and/or smart phone with one of the apps listed
  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • Boots/hiking shoes
  • Small net if you are near a creek
  • Bottle of water

Using a guidebook or a citizen science app (Seek, iNaturalist, eBird, etc.), walk through a patch of woods, in your backyard or a nearby park, and survey the area. Feel free to also bring a notebook and jot down things you notice or sketch a cool plant or bug! Really take in all the smells, sights and sounds of the woods in the winter season. Because many plants are dormant in the winter, it can be easier to see through the woods and make observations. If you’re near a creek or small waterway, you can use a sampling net to scoop leaf litter and look for macroinvertebrates or fallen seeds from nearby trees.

Safety: Never trespass and always be aware of your surroundings. If you are at a wildlife management area or public lands where hunting is allowed, make sure to wear orange until hunting season is over. Follow a path and do not go deep enough into the woods. You can use a compass, trail map and drop a pin on your smartphone if you are in an unfamiliar area. *This activity can be done in a small wooded area where getting lost is not a concern*. After your walk, check for ticks as they look for warmth in the winter months.

Submit your photos to or tag us on social media.

Activity is open to all ages and can be combined with other activities to meet Georgia Standards of Excellence in Science and Language Arts. Standards of Excellence will depend on the grade level of participants.

Forest Ecology

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


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


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:

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

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.

Activity is open to all ages and was adapted from Rock Eagle 4-H Center Education Program Curriculum. It meets the needs or can be combined with other activities for the following Georgia Standards of Excellence in Science.

  • S3L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the similarities and differences between plants, animals, and habitats found within geographic regions (Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plains, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau) of Georgia.
  • S4L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the roles of organisms and the flow of energy within an ecosystem.
  • SBO1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to analyze the nature of the relationships between plant morphological structures and anatomical structures, functions, and processes.
  • SBO2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to delineate the plant divisions based on current plant phylogenetic and taxonomic principles.