Sunday, March 3, 2013

Teaching Resources for the Redwood Forest

I spent a boat load of time doing research, asking around, and using Google to find anything and everything that I could to develop a Science unit around the Redwood Forest.  Why?  Because I really believe in place based Science education.  I think students should study and understand the environment and community around them before they can understand the rest of the world.  Bottom line:  It is meaningful and they can touch it.  My students also spend a week in the Redwood Forest at the end of the year for 6th grade camp.  When we are done with learning in and out of the classroom, they understand and care about what they learned.

So, if there is anyone else out there hoping to teach their kids about the Redwood Forest, here is what I came up with, all in one place.  Hopefully it saves you some time...

  • Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods (also good for tide pool and ocean stuff) this link will take you to their list of publications that are free to download
  • Redwood Video/Slideshow - this is a quick, but totally wonderful slideshow set to music that was created by Humboldt State and National Geographic.  It is beautiful and totally leaves an impression with the students when they watch it.  This particular version is through YouTube so hopefully your district has not blocked the site for teachers.
  • Save the Redwoods League (of course) they have great resources that can be downloaded for free.  You can also order some of their publications and they will send them to you in the mail.  They also have great links to online resources including loads of info on Giant Sequoias as well.
  • Humboldt State University Natural History Museum  This Redwood Ecology website is great for using in a computer lab or if the students have access to IPADs or other devices.  It includes a great Webquest that I do every time that I teach this unit.  
  • Redwood Ecology  Great website that has information about the species of the forest, very kid friendly.  Hosted by Humboldt County Office of Education
  • Climbing Redwood Giants - National Geographic movie.  Since the district has blocked Netflix, I cannot stream this video from there, but here is the link from the National Geographic channel.  It is about 45 minutes long, but a wonderful video.
  • California Forest Foundation - has a ton of downloadable materials, especially if you are into learning more about forest management with your students.  They also have a Critical Thinking section that has great links and more resources.
  • Redwood Ed from the California Department of Parks and Recreation - this is curriculum and resources for teachers.  It is a lot to print, so I would download and pick and choose what works for you, but it is a great resource.
  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area - This link will take you to the Teacher's Guide for Into the Redwood Forest.  There are also plant and animal guides for download as well as a student journal.  You can also sign up for trainings and field trips to the area through the site.  
  • Reading the Rings of a Tree Poster from International Paper - good if you need a visual for dedronchronology
  • The Life of a Tree - from  It is a little animated/slideshow presentation about the parts of a tree and how to read tree rings.  
  • The National Park Service provides these great little fact sheets on Redwood Prairies and Forests.  It is a great download to use for non-fiction text features and getting basic facts on plants and animals.
  • The Sequoia Park Zoo - this links to their Redwood Forest Edventures curriculum guide, totally downloadable and printable
  • Operation Redwood by Terrell French is a great fictional book about a boy trying to save a grove of redwoods.  I personally just finished reading it and really enjoyed it.  They have a study guide with discussion questions for the book.
  • Big Basin Teacher Resources Page - includes some of the links that I have here, plus many more.  LOVE Big Basin.  If you have never had a chance to visit, you should go.
  • Redwood Forest Plant Guide - I am still trying to remember the original makers of this, but this one is on DocStoc.  If anyone knows the original link, please remind me.
  • Humboldt State Institute for Redwood Ecology - Steve Stillett is the rockstar of Ecology.  The kids always think his job is so cool.  Check out the great photo tours.
  • Measuring Redwood Giants from KQED Science on the Spot - speaking of Steve Stillett, this is a great short video on how they measure the trees and why.  Again, it is through YouTube.
  • National Geographic Photos and short article.  The photos are really beautiful and the point of view can't be beat.
So, this list is a work in progress.   I am constantly updating my curriculum as I find new resources.  If you have discovered anything new that I have not included here I would love to know.

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