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Wonderful Wildlife Web

Originally appears in the Fall 2010 issue

When you hear the word “forest”, what comes to mind? Most people say trees but there is so much more to these complex ecosystems. Soil, climate, understory plants and animals combined make a forest what it is. This activity is intended to help students, aged five to eight, understand the interdependence of all of the parts that make the whole. Each become an animal in a specified forest habitat for the day. They make decisions about what habitat items they need and what they will do if they lose a habitat item. They will either adapt or go extinct.

Preparation:  Generally speaking, forests can be divided into two types, coniferous or broad-leafed. A coniferous forest is made up of cone bearing trees with leaves that are in the form of needles. Needles are dropped continuously throughout the life of the tree, so they never look bare at any one time. Trees in broad-leafed forests generally loose their leaves at a specific time of year (fall), then grow new ones (spring). In North America, they are commonly called deciduous forests.

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Sarah Schartz is a forester by training and a home-school mom by heart, who lives in Sutherlin, Oregon.