Day 1: Native versus Invasive Trees


Students will research native and invasive trees.

Lesson Overview

Students will complete a pre-assessment regarding their knowledge of trees before they take a walk on campus and make basic observations of the trees. They will compare the red maple tree to the Norway maple tree and the tree of heaven to the black locust tree. They will also consider the habitat, resource needs, and reproductive strategies of both pairs of trees.

1 class period
  • Field guide to your regional trees
  • Computers with internet access or relevant printouts from the websites mentioned within lesson
  • laminated leaves or pictures of leaves from the following trees:
  • Red maple
  • Norway maple
  • Tree of heaven and
  • Black locust

Assignments: Students will read "Invasive Species" reading and predict which trees will be within our school boundaries and explain in a one page written assignment. Students will take "Tree Assessment."

Engage: 15 minutes. Take students outside for a 15 minute walk of the campus. Have students make observations of what they see. Guide them by pointing out different leaf shapes, sizes of trees, bark features. After returning to class, ask students to discuss what they observed and write their observations on the board.


Explore: 15 minutes. Have students form groups and distribute field guides to trees. Pass out pictures or laminated leaves from the red and Norway maples, and the tree of heaven and black locust. Have students use the dichotomous keys in the field guides to predict the trees for each leaf.


15 minutes. Provide the students with the names of the four trees on the board. Have them use the following resources to research more about each tree.


Red Maple: ,

Norway Maple:

Tree of Heaven:

Black Locust:


Explain: 10 minutes. Create a table on the board and input information about each tree that the students provide. Include its status as positive or negative, its resource requirements, habitat, and reproductive strategy. Explain the differences between native and non-native, invasive and non-invasive.


Evaluate: 5 minutes. Students should create an exit ticket that categorizes the four trees as native, non-native, invasive or non-invasive.

Lesson Resources

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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