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Backyard Ecology Freebie

Backyard Ecology: An Ecological Assessment of Your Neck of the Woods

Every once in a while, we should abandon the textbook and take a look at the world around us.  There's a lot going on out there!  Many schools now have outdoor classrooms, but even if you don't have an official outdoor classroom, there is still a lot of nature going on in your school yard.  Unfortunately, most of us are tied to a very strict science curriculum, and of course, the dreaded season of standardized testing.  The ecology of your local community isn't going to be on "the test" but it is still a vital and important lesson for our science students.

Here's an activity that you might find helpful and beneficial.  And best of all ... it's FREE!  I created and used this with my students for the first time this past school year.  I was so pleased with the activity that I decided to share it with all of you.

This activity is a 23-question worksheet that the student should complete at the beginning of a unit on ecology.  The student should be given the worksheets in advance and given a few days to work on it.  The questions are designed to get the student thinking about the environment, especially about things that happen in their own home and community. Some of the items on the questionnaire can be completed at school, but a few will require just a bit of research.    The end result is that our students will learn many things about their local environment and community.

The printable lesson is perfect for traditional classroom settings, and the paperless, digital Google Apps version is perfect for distance learning and 1:1 classrooms. 

A few sample questions include:

  • Name 5 plants that seem to be native to your area.  For each plant, list one reason why it is important to humans.  For example, can these plants be used as a source of food?  Are they used in landscaping?
  • What agricultural products are grown in your area?  Is there a problem in obtaining the water necessary for growing these crops?
  • Other than recycling, what is done in your home that could be considered “conservation”?    
  • List three organizations or agencies in your area that are involved in the conservation and protection of the environment.  Describe the purpose of each agency/organization.

Click image for free download.

I was very pleased with the results.  My students put time and energy into supplying thoughtful answers that generated much classroom discussion during our unit on ecology.  I hope you enjoy this freebie!

Have fun teaching!

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