Keywords: community forests, urban forestry, tree planting; Grade Level: fourth grade; Total Time for Lesson: 30-40 minutes instruction time (many additional minutes/hours for follow-up activity); Setting: classroom and outdoors/school grounds

Materials Needed

Concepts to Be Covered

  • A community forest is made up of all the trees in a town or city.

  • The place you use to plant your tree is called the site.

  • Guidelines must be taken into account before planting a tree.

Goals for the Lesson

  • Students will define what a community forest is.

  • Students will select an appropriate site to plant a tree.

  • Students will follow guidelines in determining what type of tree to plant at their site.

State Standard(s) Addressed: Standards for Environment and Ecology (4.6.4A)

Teaching Model: Discussion-Analysis-Summarize-Evaluate


"Today we will discuss our community forest. Can anyone describe a community forest?"


  1. Allow students to share their thoughts on what a community forest may be.

  2. Define community forest. A community forest is made up of all the trees in a town or city.

  3. Discuss the school setting as belonging to the community and the community forest that includes the school grounds.

  4. Have students brainstorm a location to plant a new tree on the school grounds.

  5. Introduce the vocabulary word "site'': the place you have chosen to plant your tree.

  6. Have students read and discuss pages 13 and (top of) 15 in Planting Trees in Your Community Forest.

  7. Allow class time for students to finish reading the remainder of pages 15-17.

  8. Using Planting Site Guidelines transparency, discuss each point for finding the best site available and choosing an appropriate tree. Students should refer to text read to aid in discussion.

  9. Discuss selected site and appropriateness of area for planting.

  10. Also discuss type of tree appropriate for site. Examples: If students decide to plant a tree near the playground, what type of tree should they select? (A tree that will provide shade; a nonflowering tree to avoid attracting insects, and so on.)

  11. Summarize the lesson.


Have students write a description of the community forest in the area their home is located. The description should include the setting of their home, the types of trees surrounding their home, and the appropriateness of these trees. They may also include any suggestions they would make to family members for modifying their community forest. Valid reasons for modification should follow planting site guidelines.

Follow-up Activities

Evaluate site following planting site guidelines, select tree, and plant.


Ketchum, Richard M. (1970). The Secret Life of the Forest. American Heritage Press.

Sylvan and Friends. (1999). Planting Trees In Your Community Forest. University Park, Pa.: The Pennsylvania State University.


Tracie Tomasko, Moshannon Valley Elementary