Tree in the Ancient Forest

DSCN4846Last week my publisher received this photo of a boy in Africa reading one of Dawn Publications’ books.

The photo prompted me to use The Tree in the Ancient Forest as this week’s featured book.

The boy is part of a Maasai community, an ethnic group of semi-nomadic people inhabiting Kenya and northern Tanzania. The Massai have a tremendous focus on environmental stewardship, and we’re honored that this Dawn book and some of our others are part of Maasai children’s education.

LESSON PLAN: The Tree in the Ancient Forest
Through cumulative verse, The Tree in the Ancient Forest introduces children to a complex web of relationships. In this lesson, students explore the connections between the various plants and animals in the ancient forest through a drawing activity. When finished, students will clearly see the interdependence of life in the forest.
An ancient forest is a natural forest that has been allowed to grow undisturbed for at least 200 years. Another term for “ancient forest” is “old-growth forest.”

Suggested Grade Level: K-2

Common Core and Science Standards:
See end of lesson plan


  • Butcher paper
  • Pencils, crayons or colored pencils, and markers.

TREE_COVERRead aloud the Tree in the Ancient Forest. Have students listen carefully for the main characters (forest plants and animals) that are introduced on each page. Write the names of these characters on the board.

  1. When finished reading, have small groups of students draw a large fir tree on a piece of butcher paper, and surrounding the tree, or even on it, have them draw the listed plants and animals.
  2. Have them draw an arrow from each plant or animal to something it eats or gets nourishment from. Some plants and animals may have one arrow going both ways, such as the tree’s roots and the truffle. Ask students to notice if one plant or animal has more then one arrow leading to it.
  3. Introduce and define the terns interdependence and food chain and food web. Discuss the interdependence in the ancient forest.


  1. Read the additional nonfictional information that’s available in  the back of the book. Have students add the additional plants and animals to their drawings.
  2. The forest presented in this story is in the Pacific Northwest, but its main characteristics are shared by ancient forests the world over. Locate the closest ancient forest to your school. Research its plants and animals.

Common Core Connection:
~Reading and Literature: Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)
~Informational Text: Key Ideas and Details (K.1, K.2, K.3, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.3)
~Speaking and Listening: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas (K.5, 1.5, 2.5)

Next Generation Science Standards Connection:
~Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems (K-LS1.C, 2-LS2.A and B)
~Structures and Processes (1-LS1.A)

subscribe     Blog by Carol Malnor I love making connections: kids and nature, science and reading, fun and learning. I discovered the joy of connecting Dawn Publications' books with kids when I was a classroom teacher. Dawn's books were easy to incorporate into my lessons and the kids loved them. I used picture books with students of all ages, from primary school all the way up through 9th grade. Over the years, my relationship with Dawn changed and developed, and I authored Dawn’s Teacher’s Guides as well as writing books for children 4-14 years old. ARTICLE How to Use Creative Nonfiction Picture Books in Support of Common Core and Science ACTIVITIES Dawn Publications STANDARDS Common Core State Standards Next Generation Science Standards National Science Teachers Association Picture Perfect Science   OTHER FAVORITES Dawn Publications Children and Nature Network
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