Forest Activity: Forest Layers -- page 1 of 2
Forest Activity: Forest Layers (Grades 7-12)
Objective : Students will be able to analyze the forest layers and environments of each type of forest
show in the panorama QTVRs in the Forest Module (one per group) after reading the content of the
module on forest layers and examining the tree list information for each type of forest and come to some
conclusions about the differences and effects of environmental conditions in these forest types.
Time Required : 15-20 minutes of introduction to the topic in whole class discussion; 30-45 minutes for
each student to view web site and summarize characteristics of a forest type, make inferences about
changes that may occur with changes in conditions, and present findings to his/her group for discussion.
Museumlink Web Sites:
Forest, Present Day:
http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/forest/htmls/pr.html
Guidelines for student research: Junior High
For each type of forest, students will find out and summarize (divide class
into groups; each group responsible for one type or each member of group
responsible for one type)
* type of trees that dominate
* relative amount of sunshine reaching the undergrowth
* presence and type of shrub layer vegetation
* presence and type of undergrowth layer
* contents of litter layer
* type of soil (wet, mesic, dry) (loamy, sandy, clay)
Research and Discussion : Read the forest Web site text, view the QTVRs of today's forests, and, if
possible, look at some actual Illinois forest areas near you. Consider whether the structure of the forests
you see coincides with the descriptions in the text and the QTVRs. Look at the amount of sunlight
coming through the canopies in various forests. Do the layers of undergrowth in each forest correspond
to the amount of light? What other factors may play a part? (soil, water) Is it possible to predict the
changes that may occur in a forest because of climate change, absence of fire, clearing of land by
logging and farming, or introduction of new species of plants? What changes occured to forested areas
from 1825 to the present? What were the causes? Write a summary of the characteristics of a forest type
of your choice from your research and observations.
Assessment :
The written work of each student should reflect an understanding and analysis of the environmental
conditions of a forest type as discussed in class and on the Web site, and the possible changes in the
forest layers reflected in specified changes in environmental conditions in the forest, such as those seen
during settlement of Illinois during the period from 1825 to 1900.