Experiences and Outcomes:
The aim of this lesson is, in the spirit of John Muir, to locate and observe a specific tree throughout the seasons, taking note of all the creatures that depend upon it, at different times of the year.
Before you begin ask your class to look through the John Muir graphic novel and read the I Will Walk One Thousand Miles section where it describes how John Muir lived amongst the creatures in the trees:
‘In Savannah, Georgia, I ran out of money and built a hut out of branches. The animals thought I was some strange big bird in a nest.
Squirrel: Looks a bit nutty to me.’
To set the scene, start this activity by downloading or showing your class this video. It is 1 minute long and shows footage of a protected species in Scotland – the Red Squirrel.
Explain that when John Muir was a teenager he realised that to understand the nature around him it was best to immerse himself in it totally to be able to discover and study plant life (such as trees) and all creatures that depend upon them, more fully.
Print the Exploring Nature Pupil Activity Worksheet so your class can complete this activity.
The activity should take place during your pupils’ school holidays. Each term they should report their findings back to the class (via their Exploring Nature worksheet). Or as a class you should adopt a tree with in your school grounds and collectively study it throughout the seasons. Your pupils should fill in their Exploring Nature worksheets accordingly.
The Woodland Trust – British Trees
For help with tree identification.
The answer to question 3 on the pupils’ worksheet is that plant growth is affected by conditions such as light, water availability and temperature. This is why the measurement is only able to provide an approximate age.
(© The above was originally created as part of the Schoolgrounds-UK membership scheme from the national school grounds charity: Learning through Landscapes operating in Scotland as Grounds for Learning.)
Reflecting on Learning
Had your learners considered:
- Why the Red Squirrel is a protected species in Scotland
- The extent to which all creatures depend upon trees
- Locate and observe a specific tree through the seasons
- List all the creatures that depend upon the tree and describe why
- Explain what conditions affect tree (plant) growth
Further work/useful resources
This activity can be expanded further during a biology lesson studying this aspect of science in more depth - photosynthesis.