Keywords: abiotic, biome, biotic, browse, community, conservation, cover, deciduous, decomposer, ecology, ecosystem, edge, environment, habitat, indigenous, natural resource, niche, organism, population, succession; Lesson Plan Grade Level: 6; Total Time Required for Lesson: 3-class periods and 2-nights of homework TOTAL TIME is 180-minutes; Setting: forest (Cameron County is 97% forested), classroom, school library, public library


This lesson plan is for a 3-step project:

Step 1. ( 30-minutes classwork) Students will correctly enter definitions for the 20- vocabulary terms listed with Keywords. Students will locate most of the definitions in their textbooks. For the vocabulary words that are not found in the textbook, the students will work together to find the definitions. They may use the internet or various reading materials.

Step 2. (30-minutes homework and 30-minutes classwork) Students will collect, and bring into class, 7-leaves from trees found in PA. They will correctly identify each tree and explain how they got their answer. Students will use "Common Trees of Pennsylvania" and "Summer Key for Pennsylvania Trees."

Step 3. (60-minutes classwork and 30-minutes homework) Students will type a 250-word research paper about the history of PA forests. They will focus on what PA forests were like during the 1600's, 1700's, 1800's, 1900's, and currently in the 21st century. Students will research the following topics for each century: % of forested land, types of trees, diseases and/or natural disasters, estimated deer herd, demand for timber, industries using the timber (name industries and how the timber was used), regional activity across PA, and types of logging methods. Students will type their reports at one of the computer labs in school. Students will be expected to give an oral summary of their research. They will include at least one goal that they believe PA foresters should be striving towards. The teacher will generate a study guide and an exam related to the history of PA forests and PA tree identification if an exam will be given.
* Times listed for classwork and homework are estimates. I suggest that the teacher model the use of "Summer Key for Pennsylvania Trees" to identify a few trees and then allow the students to practice. Also, the research paper will take a day or two longer if the teacher requires a rough draft and proofreading. Students will choose from the following activities if they finish ahead of the teacher's deadline: create a poster that promotes positive forest stewardship, estimate the age of trees by counting the rings of a tree cookie, estimate the age of an evergreen tree by counting the whirls (would need evergreens nearby or good photos of evergreens), create a diorama of a deciduous forest biome, or any other activity decided upon by the teacher.


Students will gain an understanding of, and an appreciation for, the history of PA forests. Students will learn key vocabulary terms relating to deciduous forest biomes. Students will be able to identify at least 7-trees found in PA by looking at their leaves.


leaves, tree identification guides, internet, textbook, various reading materials about PA forests, composition paper,...

State standards (PSSA standards):

History (gr. 6)

  • 8.2.6: PA History

Environment and Ecology (gr. 7)

  • 4.2.7: Renewable and nonrenewable resources
  • 4.6.7: Ecosystems and their interactions
  • 4.8.7: Humans and the environment

Subject: Science

Topics: History of PA forests and PA tree identification; Earth Sciences and Life Sciences


teacher-led instruction and discussion, individual work, and small groups


informal, leaf collection, student journal entries, PA tree i.d. test, research paper, PA forests test


  • "Common Trees of Pennsylvania" DCNR Bureau of Forestry, copyright 2007;
  • "Summer Key for Pennsylvania Trees" The Pennsylvania State University, College of Agricultural Sciences, Cooperative Extension, copyright 2002;
  • "Forest Stewardship" Numbers 1 - 3, The Pennsylvania State University, College of Agricultural Sciences, Cooperative Extension, copyright 2002, McGraw - Hill Science, copyright 2002.


Brian Lovett, Woodland Elementary (Grade 6 Science and Social Studies), Cameron County School District, Emporium, PA