Build your FERN lessons with Project Learning Tree activities

As you dig into your Project Learning Tree curriculum books, you’ll find many connections and ways to integrate FERN plots within a larger context for learning. Here are a few relevant activities for concept and skill development to get you started:


Choose from the PLT PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide

  • Activity #12 – “Invasive Species” Students will research invasive species to determine how these species got to their new locations and what characteristics make them so challenging.
  • Activity #27 – “Every Tree For Itself” provides a simulation to give your students an understanding of the conditions that trees need to live and grow and to help your students learn that trees often must compete for their needs.
  • Activity #61 – “The Closer You Look” All students have an idea of what a tree looks like. But many are unfamiliar with the actual structure of a tree. In this activity students will go outdoors to take a closer look at trees and their parts.
  • Activity #67 – “How Big is Your Tree?” Students will measure trees in different ways and become familiar with the tree’s scale and structure. They will also learn the importance of stands units of measure and measuring techniques.
  • Activity #84 – “The Global Climate” Using data collected from Mauna Loa, students will graph changes in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 46 year period, and identify possible reasons for those changes. They will also learn about the relationship between CO2 and the Earth’s climate and explore ways to reduce the amount of CO2 they generate.

Tree Identification Skill-Building Activities from the K-8 Guide:

  • Activity #61 The Closer You Look – students take a closer look at trees and their parts
  • Activity #64 Looking at Leaves – students examine leaf characteristics and how leaves can be used to identify plants.
  • Activity #68 Name That Tree – tree species can be identified by looking at several different features: leaves, barks, twigs, flowers, fruits and seeds.
  • Activity #68 How Big Is Your Tree? – students measure trees in different ways and become familiar with the tree’s scale and structure


National PLT Global Connections: Forests of the World

  • Activity #4 – “Analyzing Patterns of Forest Change” Human activities and other forces can change forests in a variety of different ways. Students will identify global trends in forest cover; through maps and historical accounts they will analyze how particular forests have changed over time.


National PLT Exploring Environmental Issues: Focus on Forests

  • Focus on Forests Activity #1 “Monitoring Forest Health” is the foundation for Maine’s Forest Inventory Growth (FERN) project. FERN is designed to provide on-line and long term data analysis. Explore this lesson to expand and enrich your forestry studies. Students conduct a forest health checkup of a local forest area, take forestry measurements, and evaluate the ecological services provided by trees and forests.

Other Connections

Hardwood ecosystem Experiment: Indiana Forestry & Wildlife

A 100-year study of forest management and its impact on plants and animals.

Get the research activities