Teaching Plant Identification at Summer Camp

klier at iscsvax.uni.edu klier at iscsvax.uni.edu
Fri Apr 2 17:58:47 EST 1993

In article <113343 at bu.edu>, pcalento at bu.edu (Paul Calento) writes:
> I will be serving as Ecology-Conservation Director at a Boy Scout Summer
> Camp in Woronoco, Massachusetts this summer.
> I am interested in methods of instructing flora identification to scouts
> between the ages of twelve and fifteen (e.g. types of hands-on displays
> and possible activities).

I usually introduce keying with a pair of keys: a diagrammatic one that
is a key to common trees of Iowa, a product of our state forestry extension
service, and a short bracketed key to winter twigs written by my old
major professor, Richard Pohl.  I've used these keys with children as
young as 7 (just tell any grumblers who complain keying is hard that
Iowa Brownies can do it... 8-) )

Do check with your state extension service to see what pamphlets they 
offer.  Remember that governmental agency produced materials are not
subject to copyright.

I've also had good luck teaching some easy plant families to kids, as
a means of increasing their observational skills and giving them a
basis for future learning.  With kids that age, I'd probably teach
  Cyperaceae (sedges) vs. Poaceae (=Gramineae) (grasses)
  Asteraceae (=Compositae) (sunflower family)
  Lamiaceae (=Labiatae) (mint family)
  Apiaceae (=Umbelliferae) (carrot and parsley family)

If you want to try the "wildflower book" type ID, I like the Peterson
field guides about the best.  Plants are arranged by color of flower
and shape of flower.  Most common wildflowers are included, and they
can be used by people with little training.  

Newcomb's wildflower guide is a little bit of both keying and color
picture matching.  It may be appropriate for your use.  Plants are
arranged by flower color, but you can turn to the appropriate section
easily by consulting a "code" obtained from the combination of leaf
arrangement, number of petals (though it says composites have "more
than 7 petals" -- wrong!).

Both Peterson's and Newcomb's are about $15, last time I looked.

Kay Klier  Biology Dept  UNI

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