Utilization Strategies

Lesson Plans

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by Angie Thornhill
University of Idaho Student

GRADE: 7 to 9

SUBJECT MATTER: Biological Sciences: Ecology, Wetlands

Wetlands are a magnificent source of plant and animal diversity, and a great example of nature's water filter. During these activities students will explore the importance of the wetland ecosystem, its properties and functions, as well as, the many birds, animals, and plant life found there. Video and Internet use will be a tool used by the teacher to introduce and provide exploration resources for student understanding of the wetland ecosystem. These activities will ideally lead to a trip to a wetland or a more community active project involving wetland and stream health.


Students will:

  • Understand the properties and functions of a wetland.
  • Research a topic online within a list of pre-chosen web sites.
  • Use their time researching online appropriately and effectively.
  • Write and organize a coherent report on an animal species.
  • Present a report to classmates within a certain time restraint.


National Science Teaching Association standards: http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/nses/html/6e.html Grades 9—12:

  • Content Standard C, Life Sciences Interdependence of organisms
  • Content Standard F, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives Natural resources Environmental Quality
  • Content Standard G, History and Nature of Science Historical Perspectives Grades 5—8:
  • Content Standard C: Populations and ecosystems Diversity and adaptations of organisms
  • Content Standard F, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives Populations, resources, and environments


Teachers will bookmark applicable websites . Set up the VCR and TV. Assemble materials.


Step 1. Lay each of the props (antacid, sponge, food can, binoculars, baby rattle ) on a table and hold up each item asking the students to write them down on a sheet of paper. Explain to students that each item is an example of a function of a wetland.

Step 2. Make a chart about what they know about wetlands.


Per student:


  • 1 sponge
  • 1 Food can
  • 1 pair of binoculars
  • 1 Baby rattle
  • Computers
  • TV
  • VCR


Video IdahoPTV: Wild About Wetlands


A site for vocabulary and graphics related to wetlands.

Top 100 sites with information about wetlands.

Missouri wetlands and their management.

Dialogue For Kids: Wetlands
Idaho Fish & Game Project Wild: Wild About Wetlands


Step 1. Give students a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by having each student write down how each of the objects placed before them are related to wetlands as they view the video. Scan the worksheet so the students know what they should look for. Complete the worksheet as they watch and at the end.
They can also visit: http://agen521.www.enc.purdue.edu
for more information.

Discuss these facts.
Wetlands were seen as obstacles to pioneers’ movement. They were tiled and drained. When Europeans arrived on this continent there were about 200 million acres of wetlands. Today there are about 95 million acres. Recent studies estimate that we are losing about 240,000 to 360,000 acres per year. They are extremely important. You will see some of those reasons. You will become aware of the importance of this ecosystem and the reasons for stopping their disappearance.

Step 2. START the video. After it says “It is critical to Wildlife”, PAUSE and predict why this is so? View until the middle of “What is a Wetland Segment” PAUSE at slough and describe what one looks like. CONTINUE and PAUSE when you see the red-winged blackbird. PAUSE, check for understanding and fill in the worksheet about the three parts of a wetland. CONTINUE until the Palouse country appears. PAUSE. Review the video up until this point. CONTINUE until the section that begins to talk about other roles of wetlands. PAUSE Review the 4 places in Idaho that they have seen on the video. Discuss the differences between high deserts, uplands, and the Camas Prairie. CONTINUE until the end.

Discuss the three other roles presented: flood control, improving water quality, and recreation. Discuss how water slows down in the wetland , that is, plants trap polluted dirt and filters it by absorbing nutrients and waste. Review the three main uses of wetlands: a refuge for wildlife, flood control, and keeping water clean.

Step 3. When the video is finished, ask the students to describe their ideas on the functions of wetlands using the "props" As students respond, each are discussed and written on the chalkboard. Examples:

  • Antacid: Wetlands are nature's "neutralizer" as they can filter and dissolve harmful substances.
  • Sponge: Wetlands are a perfect buffer for river and stream flooding. Food can: Wetlands play an important role in providing food for indigenous wildlife and for those just passing through.
  • Binoculars: Wetlands are a great recreation area for bird and wildlife watchers as well as hunters.
  • Baby rattle: Wetlands are essential for some species as they provide a nesting area for their young.

Encourage students to think up their own "props" they would use for explaining other functions of wetlands not listed here.



Using the bookmarked websites sites, the students will find two mammals, birds, fish, and amphibians that live in wetlands and also two hydrophytic plants. The students will list these animals by using their scientific name. Each student pick one plant or animal and write an informational report. These reports can include how the animal is adapted for wetland life, and predator/prey relationships. Give students 2-3 class periods of supervised researching and then have them present their report to the class. This report should be assessed on its logical order, coherent wording, and content. The presentation will be assessed on its ability to fit the time frame allotted.


Cross-Curricular Extensions:
Limited carrying capacity, energy flow and recycling are all principles that a wetland can demonstrate. Different wetland types and their formations may also be discussed and explored (ex. Coastal and inland). This unit can be followed or prefaced by one on water pollution and water chemistry testing.

Community Connections:
Visit a local wetland and talk to its "manager". Start up a "stream team" where students can assess their local stream health near a wetland.

Career Connection:
Interview a local Fish and Game official. Learn what education is required for the job. What do they like most about the job?...the least? What is the salary?

For additional lesson plans and ideas relating to this topic and many others try TeacherSource at PBS Online! You will find activities, lesson plans, teacher guides and links to other great educational web sites! Search the database by keyword, grade level or subject area! Mathline and Scienceline are also great resources for teachers seeking teaching tips, lesson plans, assessment methods, professional development, and much more!

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