Teacher: Matthew Little

Environmental Science 12

Lesson 1:

Nature Walk

Lesson Time: 60+ minutes, lesson time does not include extensions, adaptations or potential scaffolding requirements.

Lesson Overview

This lesson is a guided nature walk in which students are introduced to invasive, non-invasive, indigenous and non-indigenous plants. If the instructor is not a naturalist, students can refer to regional field guides – these guides can be used to facilitate a photo scavenger hunt. Students are introduced to the important ecological impact of invasive species from the perspective of their local ecology. Students can begin to develop an understanding for the implications of a garden which uses indigenous plant species.

Teaching Summary

1. Attendance
2. Shape of the Lesson

3. Defining Invasives, a personal story
4. Search and Destroy
5. Taking Note

6. Wrap-up
7. Extension

Lesson Objectives

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Students Will:

  • Observe indigenous, non-indigenous, invasive and non-invasive plants
  • Search out invasive species in a local park or green space
  • Take note of the unique ecology of invasive species
Core Competencies:

________ Highlighting applicable curricular competencies and content
________ Evidence for selection, generated with input from sample “I” statements in curricular draft documents


  1. Connect and engage with others (to share and develop ideas)
  • Opportunity to share previous knowledge of invasive species
  • Students can share and develop their ideas about the ecology surrounding invasive species
  1. Acquire, interpret and present information (include inquiries)
  • Students acquire information about the positioning and prevalence of invasive species in their community
  1. Collaborate to plan, carry out and review constructions and activities
  2. Explain, recount and reflect on experience and accomplishments


Creative Thinking

  1. Novelty and value
  2. Generating ideas
  3. Developing ideas

Critical Thinking

  1. Analyze and critique
  2. Question and investigate
  • Students question and investigate the prevalence and effects of invasive species on their local ecosystem.


Positive Personal and Cultural Identity

  1. Relationships and cultural contexts
  2. Personal values and choices
  3. Personal strengths and abilities

Personal Awareness and Responsibilities

  1. Self-determination
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Well-being

Social Responsibilities

  1. Contributing to community and caring for the environment
  • Students begin to develop a sense of how limiting the introduction of invasive species and by actively managing invasive species, students can make an environmental difference.
  1. Solving problems in peaceful ways
  2. Valuing diversity
  3. Building relationships
First Peoples Principles:

Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.

  • This lesson begins to develop a sense of the local ecology, and the health of that ecology. This makes an effective starting point in which students can begin to help manage land.
  • Students can make a connection with their local green space / park.

Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).

  • This lesson develops a sense of place by exploring the local ecology – rather than learning about it in the abstract setting of the classroom.

Big Idea Focus:

Global Environmental Changes

  • Students are introduced to the ‘number 2’ driver of global ecological change (next to global warming): invasive species

Curricular Competency Focus:

Questioning and Predicting: Make observations aimed at identifying their own questions, including increasingly abstract ones, about the natural world

  • Students, in observing invasive species in their local environment, are given the latitude to ask questions about the significance of that fact

Processing and analyzing data and information: Experience and interpret the local environment

  • Students explore their local environment, roughly determining where the various plant species have originated

Curricular Content Focus:

Land Use and Sustainability: Land management and personal choices

  • Students are introduced to invasive species management as part of land management



  • Discussion responses to walk prompts
  • Difficulty / ease with which invasives etc. are identified
  • Depth of reflection in final class discussion

Adaptation / Modification:

This section contains videos and resources that may inspire you to adapt this activity in a way that works for you, including the use of a invasive species app and community (park/greenspace) invasive species mapping.

Invasive Species Mapping
Report a Weed App
The mobile Report-a-Weed BC app is available free of charge for iPhone and Android platforms. It lets you report weed sightings anywhere in BC, in just a few simple steps. Your report will go to a BC invasive plant specialist, who will coordinate follow-up activities with the appropriate local authorities.”

Report-a-Weed and Report-Invasives-BC


Invasive Plant Bingo
“Students play a game of bingo using plant cards instead of letters to reinforce their plant identification skills and knowledge.”

Pg. 46, Invasives in the Classroom

The lesson is designed for intermediate grades – but I think it would be great even for grade 12!


Invasive Species Field Guide
Rather than using an APP, or doing research on your phone (who knows, maybe the park is out of cell service!), this field guide is available as a pdf, or can be purchased for $1.50

Field Guide to Noxious Weeds and Other Selected Invasive Plants of BC


Teaching Guide:

Materials, Resources and Prep

For the Student:

  • Access to a phone with cell service or a device with the Invasive Plants Field Guide loaded, or a physical copy of said field guide.
  • The list of indigenous and non-indigenous plants from the Invasive Species Bingo activity from the Invasives in the Classroom resource
  • Cell-phone camera or camera

For the Teacher:

Getting Started: (5 Min)

1. Attendance
2. Shape of the lesson

  • We’re going to get walking towards the park
  • We’ll try to define a bunch of plants: indigenous, non-indigenous, invasive and non-invasive and what all these things mean
  • We’re going to do a scavenger hunt using our invasive plants field guide that you’ve loaded up on your devices, and the list of invasive species from the Invasives in the Classroom resource
  • We’ll try to observe the way that invasives and non-invasives seem to interact
  • We may note where we find invasive species, we may be able to go back and remove them at a later date

Activities: (40+ Min)

3. Defining Invasives: A Personal Story

  • There are many definitions for invasive, non-invasive, indigenous/native, and non-native plants – one such definition, for example, suggests that an invasive must, or be likely to “cause economic or environmental harm
  • I have a personal history with an invasive plant species prevalent in the Okanagan called Tribulus terrestris, common name Puncturevine, because of the way that it can easily (and often) puncture bicycle and stroller tires. This is a nuisance, but the effects of invasive species can be much greater.

4. Search and Destroy

  • Like the demolition of a skyscraper, the removal and disposal of invasive plants can be quite an undertaking! Today, we will be documenting invasive species in the park (or green space), so that in our next lesson, when we actually go to remove invasive species, we can identify them, and we may know where to find them too!
  • Identify species from the Pg. 46 Invasives in the Classroom list. Obtain photographic evidence.
  • E-mail the photos to me (ie. your teacher) before the next class (work as you go!), with each photo labeled with the suspected invasive or native plant. They can then be compiled into a resource we can use in our next lesson along with the field manual.

5. Taking Note (a group discussion)

  • Now that we’re all back together, and we’ve identified so many plants, we’re going to see if we have any new insight into invasive and indigenous plants.

Suggested questions:

  • Is the distribution of invasives even throughout the space or are they more likely to be found in certain areas? Why or why not?
  • How do you think the invasive plants got here?
  • What might be difficulties we will face removing these plants next lesson?
  • How were the invasives interacting with the indigenous plants? Were they in proximity with certain other plants? Was there much else growing around the invasives? How did this compare with indigenous plants?
  • Besides physically removing the invasives, what other techniques might be effective?
“They were in a trench sliding through a forest of corn. Machine stood over the rows, black girders that arced in the sky like the proscenium above a stage. The thought occurred to Wayne that those machines were sprayers, full of poison. They would drench the corn in a lethal rain to keep it from being eaten by invasive species. Those exact words – “invasive species” – rang through his brain. Later the corn would be lightly washed and people would eat it.”Joe Hill

Wrap-up/Extension: (5+ Min)

8. Wrap-up

  • Students need to make their way back to the school.
  • Consider introducing students to their project for the next day, the volunteer organization etc. that they will be working with (ie. Lower Mainland Green Team).
  • Remind students about the kind of clothing that will be appropriate for such an undertaking

9. Extension

  • Park staff, a local expert, or a different volunteer/professional may have expertise in the area of invasive species. For example, I know that the provincial government employed an individual in the Southern Okanagan to remove invasive species, and part of that role was education in the schools. Having such a person along could transform the experience from a scavenger hunt to more of the nature walk that is proposed in the lesson title.
  • Lesson 2 naturally extends this lesson by involving students directly in invasive species removal.

This document is available under a Creative Commons License.

This lesson plan was inspired by code.org’s programming units. The eagle feather and First Peoples Principles of Learning framework are assets of fnesc.ca.