Christmas Trees - A North Carolina Crop!
Lesson 3 of 5
Objective: SWBAT discuss the basic needs and habitat that fir trees need to grow.
This lesson continues our unit about the basic needs of plants for Essential Standard 1.L.1.1 and giving examples of how those basic needs are met by their environment in North Carolina for Essential Standard 1.L.1.2. Listen to my Explanation of Essential Standards to find out why I teach the Essential Standards. I also post a guiding question for each lesson, which is required by my county but also helps to keep me on track throughout the lesson. Today's question is 'What are the basic needs of plants and how does their environment provide those?'
This lesson also supports Disciplinary Core Idea 1-LS1-A which states, "All organisms have external parts...Plants also have different parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits) that help them survive and grow.
Christmas tree farms are a large part of North Carolina's economy in the mountains. However, we live at the beach and I'd bet most of my students have not seen a tree farm! In this lesson, I provide media and documents for students to explore and determine the basic needs of Christmas trees.
Before teaching this lesson, find out if your students celebrate Christmas. One way to do that is to send home a survey ahead of time asking what traditions each family celebrates this time of year. Even if families do not celebrate Christmas, this lesson supports the Social Studies Essential Standard 1.H.1.2, "Explain the importance of folklore and celebrations and their impact on the local community".
Science journals, pencils
To get students really interested in this lesson, first I ask,
"What are some traditions that your family does during this time of year?"
I am teaching this unit during November, so Christmas is on their minds! As we make a list, if nobody mentions decorating a tree I say it, and add it to the list. When we have a short list, I say,
"Today we are going to learn about Christmas trees and where they come from, as well as how farmers meet their basic needs and how their different parts help them to survive and grow".
We watch this video which gives a 2 minute overview of the life of a Christmas tree. This provides students with enough background information to be able to do some work on their own!
After the video, I want to encourage my students to develop and research their own questions about fir trees. The objective for this lesson is to review basic needs, so I start with that one, then open it up for their own questions.
"Today we're reviewing the basic needs of plants and how their environment provides that for them to be able to grow. My first question is, what are the basic needs of fit trees and how to do the farmers provide that? Now, what else do you want to know about Fir trees? What other questions do you have?"
I record some of their questions on a Question Chart that we can refer to at the end of the lesson. As students develop their own questions based on their own background knowledge and the little bit of information I have given them, I add that I wonder what the farmers have to do to prepare that many trees! I want students to really look at this process from both sides - the farmers and the consumers - and then think about how each satisfies the basic needs of the trees. Having the students to develop their own questions instead of me providing them taps into their own interest. It supports Science and Engineering Practice 1, asking questions that can be answered through simple investigation.
Then I say,
"Today you will use these brochures that I have from the NC Christmas Tree Farm website, and the books I have at the tables, to find the answers to your questions. You will have about 15 minutes to use the resources. Be ready to share something interesting when you come back to the carpet!"
As students work with the resources together, I walk around and support lower level readers. I also make sure that they have a question to work on. I also work to keep students on task! I also encourage students to take notes in their journals so that they can remember the information.
Using lots of different resources, including media and books, supports Science and Engineering Practice 4, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, by recording information and using and sharing pictures and writings of observations.
After about 15 minutes, I call everyone back to the carpet and say,
"What did you learn about the basic needs of the fir trees? What do the farmers have to provide when growing so many trees?"
Starting with this particular question ensures that we cover the basic needs of trees, which is the objective for this lesson. Then, the conversation can move to other things the students found out about. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information supports Science and Engineering Practice 8.
After a good conversation about their questions and answers, I say,
"My question today was 'What are the basic needs of fir trees and how do farmers provide that?'. Who can answer that question now? Also, what are the parts of a fir tree? How do they help the tree survive and grow?"
As I ask these questions, one at a time, I guide the conversation to ensure we have discussed and met the objectives for today. This also serves as a review of the guiding question for today, which was 'What are the 5 basic needs of plants and how are they provided by their environment?'
If we have time, we watch another video from this page that has lots of interesting videos about the trees.