Introduction to Measuring the Forest

Keywords: pulpwood, board foot, cubic foot, cord, forest inventory; Lesson Plan Grade Level: seventh through twelfth grade; Total Time Required for Lesson: one class period (50 minutes); Setting: classroom for instruction, introduction of new terms, and discussion of how to use them, neighbor's yard to practice measuring amount of firewood

Goals for the Lesson

  • Students will become familiar with and able to use new terminology correctly.
  • Students will be able to calculate number of board feet in a board.
  • Students will be able to calculate number of cords in firewood pile.

Materials Needed

  • calculators
  • rulers
  • yardsticks or metal tape measures
  • "Sizing Things Up" (student information sheet)

State Standards Addressed: E & E Standards: Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources (4.2), Agriculture and Society (4.4), and Humans and the Environment (4.8)

Subjects Covered: social studies, history, biology, ecology, math 

Topics: forest inventory, difference between board foot and cubic foot, calculating board feet, pulpwood vs. sawtimber, calculating a cord



Get permission from a neighbor for students to be in his/her yard to measure his firewood piles, remind students one day ahead to bring metal tape measures from home (otherwise will have to carry yardsticks), copies of "Sizing Things Up" from Trees + Me = Forestry for student notebooks, get calculators.

Doing the Activity

  1. Introduction to the Lesson: Have students read and put in notebooks "Sizing Things Up" from Trees + Me = Forestry.
  2. Terms to be covered today are: pulpwood, board foot, cubic foot, cord, forest inventory. Put terms on board as they are introduced. Students will enter the terms in their journals.
  3. Class discussion on forest inventories, use, value, etc.


  1. (Experience and Share Stages) Have students practice by measuring lab tables as if they were firewood piles to determine percentage of a cord (cubic volume) in lab table.
  2. (Share and Process Stages) Walk over to neighbor's yard to measure the firewood piles.
  3. Record findings in journals.
  4. (Apply Stage) Have students create a model of how large a cord would be if it were all in one pile (how much space does a cord take up).


Students will record findings in daily journals in their notebooks.

Conclusion to the Lesson

"How many of you use firewood at home? How many of you have to help cut, load, stack firewood at home? Did you ever wonder how much wood you had actually handled in any given day?" And so on. "This will lead us into our next lesson: measuring a standing tree. Come to class tomorrow prepared to go to the woodlot."


Hansen, Robert S. and James C. Finley (1996). Trees + Me = Forestry. University Park, Pa.: The Pennsylvania State University.


K. S. Bossert, Central Mountain Middle School, Mill Hall, PA