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Take Students Outside with a Free Guide to Teaching About Forests

Take Students Outside with a Free Guide to Teaching About Forests

This post is sponsored by Project Tree Learning Canada

Originally published October 2021

By Danika Strecko, Senior Manager of Education, Project Learning Tree Canada

Why do forests matter? Do you know all the environmental, social, and economic benefits they provide?

Forests provide unique opportunities for hands-on learning and engaging students with outdoor lessons. Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada) offers a free, bilingual guide to teaching about forests. Teach about forests, trees, forest practices, and sustainable forest management with the Forest Literacy Framework’s 100 forest concepts for grades K-12.

Why is Environmental Education Important?

Environmental education presents many opportunities for cross-curricular learning and helps students develop an appreciation for the natural world and living sustainably.

Environmental education benefits students, educators, and communities. With environmental education, educators can teach how to think, not what to think, and improve young people’s problem-solving, analytical, and investigative skills. It can also improve academic achievement with engaging lessons about the natural world, students’ health by improving stress levels and mental heath, focus and cognition, and more.

Educators can build leadership skills and address academic standards in engaging ways to meet the content and skills identified in provincial and territorial curricula.

Environmental education also benefits communities because young learners become equipped with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to address complex environmental challenges and contribute to sustainable living.

How to Engage with the Forest Literacy Framework
There are many ways to use the Forest Literacy Framework in (or outside) of your classroom, but we’ve highlighted three ways you can explore the content:

By Theme
The 100 forest concepts are organized into four themes:

  1. What is a forest? Defining forests helps us appreciate their diverse ecosystems.
  2. Why do forests matter? Connecting sustainably managed forests to our everyday lives helps us understand their value.
  3. How do we sustain our forests? Detailing what goes into sustainable forest management shows us how it can meet the environmental, social, and economic needs of society.
  4. What is our responsibility to forests? Teaching about how we can be good stewards ensures that we can enjoy forests for generations to come.

By Grade Level
The Forest Literacy Framework’s grade level section provides guiding questions to help construct teaching and learning about trees and forests. Forest literacy concepts are divided by grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. They also include sample activities and links to real-world connections!

By Hot Topic
The Forest Literacy Framework also connects to five relevant, real-world topics:

  1. Climate Change: How can sustainably managed forests help address one of the most pressing global challenges we are facing?
  2. Public Health: How do forests and trees help create healthy environments and restore ecosystems?
  3. Urban Forests: How do urban forests provide key ecosystem services, like purifying water and air, that are essential to healthy human communities?
  4. Green Jobs: How can rewarding green careers instill a passion for the outdoors and mitigate climate change?
  5. Wildfire: Why are vigorous and healthy forests more likely to withstand the effects of wildfire?

Take it Outside
Environmental education connects students to real issues happening now, encourages problem-solving and critical thinking, and improves student engagement. By acquiring forest literacy, students gain the tools and knowledge to care for our forests sustainably, well into the future.

Explore PLT Canada’s Forest Literacy Framework