Forests are Big Ecosystems

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Listen to an interview with a forestry expert to discover how forests are being managed to provide both resources for consumers and lasting benefits to the environment. 

Subject: Science
Grade level: Elementary

Forests provide much more than public spaces for exercise, relaxation, and enjoying nature. They are complex ecosystems characterized by biodiversity. Forests are vital to Earth’s water cycle and ensure the survival of all living things by absorbing carbon dioxide and transforming it into oxygen. However, forests also provide valuable resources, especially wood and paper, that people need. Listen to an interview with a forestry expert to discover how forests are being managed to provide both resources for consumers and lasting benefits to the environment. 

Forests are Big Ecosystems

Before Listening

  1. Activate prior knowledge:
    Begin the lesson by asking students to share their experiences in forests, such as hiking and camping. As they share stories, have students list animals, plants, and physical features that they encountered. Invite students to share ideas on why forests are important for human survival. If students have not had experience in forests, ask them to share what they know about trees, parks, or any green spaces they have visited, and to tell about the animals, plants, and physical features they notice in these spaces. 
  2. Vocabulary:
    Preview the vocabulary by reading aloud the terms and their definitions. As they define each word, ask students to predict how it might be used in a story about forests. Use the following sentence frames to help students remember their definitions:
  • Many birds live in the ___ of the forest.
  • The runner started at a pace that was not ___ and ran out of energy before the end of the race.
  • The machine used a ___ to separate the rocks from the water.

Encourage students to come up with their own sentences for the remaining words.

canopy (noun) – the natural forest “roof” created by the highest, outermost branches of adjoining trees
sustainable (adjective) – able to be maintained at predictable levels of quality and productivity
initiative (noun) – an effort, enterprise, or project
filter (verb) – to move or separate solid particles from a liquid such as water
mitigate (verb) – to reduce the impact or counteract harm
niche (noun) – the role of a species or organism within its habitat

  1. Introduce the story:
    Say to students: People need forests not just for recreation but for survival. Forests help clean the air and water. Forests also provide resources that people need. Can humans use resources from the forests and continue to protect forest ecosystems? Listen to this story which explores the challenges of managing forests in a way that will keep them growing into the future.
  1. Active listening supports:
    Introduce the listening organizer to support students in understanding the story while listening to it. This is intended to guide students in taking notes to help them focus their listening.

During Listening

The Forest Benefits & Questions T-chart will guide students while listening as they take notes on how forests benefit the planet and questions they have. (Sample responses: A. Forests are complex ecosystems. B. What food chains and food webs do you find in a forest?)

After Listening

  1. Reflect on the story:  
    Ask students to respond to the listening comprehension questions and share their responses with a partner, small group, or the whole class.
  • What plants and animals live in a forest ecosystem?
  • How do forests help slow global warming?
  • How do forests affect Earth’s water supply?
  • What forest products do humans depend on?
  1. Classroom Discussion:
    Take time for student reflection on the audio story. Use the discussion questions to focus students on the meaning of sustainable forestry and what they can do to help protect forests through sustainable practices.
  • What does “sustainable forestry” mean, and what practices are part of it?
  • What can you do to help protect forests? What is one change that you or your family could make that would have an impact on forests?

Next Step: Paired Text

Use the Britannica for Kids article Forest to pair with this audio story.

Ask students to compare and contrast the information they learned from the audio story with the information they learn from the article.

Quiz Answers: 1>A / 2>B / 3>C / 4>D

Listen to the full podcast episode

Text materials provided by Listenwise

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