Forests Inquiry / Phenomenon Based Learning Unit
Hey, y'all! My students and I are loving the freedom and flexibility that comes with our inquiry and phenomenon based learning units we've done so far and I'm so excited to start on our next unit about forests! We live near an absolutely beautiful forest, but this PhenomBL unit works for any forest you and your students want to study.
We start off each unit by asking questions and deciding where we want to focus our learning. The kids have so many questions so this is a fun part.
In your class, you can choose to study different types of forests around the world, comparing and contrasting their different characteristics, or you could focus your efforts on one specific forest, like one that's nearest you.
I like to have mine explore the different types of forests there are and map them on the world map. Then, I have us explore our forest and define the type of forest it is. This makes it easy to compare and contrast different types and identify those types in the stories we read.
A lot of times, students think there is only one type of forest--the kind with the big trees and cute little woodland animals. But there are many more than that.
As part of our research, we learn about what types of animals and plants live in different forests and how that makes those regions unique. It also helps us learn about food chains and the interdependence of different plants and animals.
Another thing we look at are the different laws, jobs, and activities related to forests. We have a huge tourism industry in our forest area as well as several state and national parks. There are things to do here year-round, and many laws regulating the use of the land.
All of these things tie into real world social studies lessons on citizenship, human adaptation, geography, and more. We could spend several days on this part of our research alone.
One of the things that always blows my students' minds is that forests change over time. In their heads, it's always been the same. But we learn about deforestation, wildfires, changing boundaries, and the regeneration of the forest and the kids just keep asking more questions.
So we map the changes over time using one color for what it looked like on the farthest date back we can find and a different color for what the forest boundaries look like now. We learn all kinds of skills about maps, scales, area, and more.
As you can tell, this is not just a simple unit on how trees grow or what a forest habitat is. It's a multi-disciplinary unit that covers all kinds of aspects about forests. That's what I love about phenomenon based learning--it's like thematic units on steroids.