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Invasive Species Compilation of Indoor &Outdoor Activities

Elementary, Middle


This activity-based resource focuses on  connecting students to their local environment.  It addresses the complexity and importance of native and biologically diverse ecosystems while highlighting the threat of invasive species to biodiversity. Experiential and outdoor learning is paramount in this package of 10 lesson plans (5 outdoor and 5 indoor), 5 cartoon stories (that reinforce concepts learned in the lesson plan) and 5 invasive species cards.  Each lesson includes activity objectives, pre-tests and post-tests, a materials list, extensive background information, teacher and student directions, guided practice, closure and assessment suggestions, resources, and accommodation ideas for students with learning difficulties. Each lesson can serve as a stand-alone activity or can be combined with other lessons to provide a comprehensive unit.

Indoor activities include research into invasive species in local watersheds, writing and performing a skit about invasive species, and taking part in an invasive species quiz show. Outdoor lessons have students observing & journalling patterns in nature and tracking the introduction of invasive species via seed dispersal. As well, a service learning project which has students working with local government to implement an integrated pest management program for the invasive species found on the school grounds brings closure to the learning package.

Indoor Lessons:

The Case of The Missing Songbirds – (3 x 60min.)

Students are given background information on a fictional subdivision called “Pleasant Acres” and must use the clues provided to find out why there is a decline in the number of songbirds in that neighborhood. Students are divided into teams of investigators and work to identify the problems.They then brainstorm a list of ideas to provide safer habitats for the songbirds.

Research projects on integrated pest management practices for invasive species are assigned and students are encouraged to start a letter writing campaign to local garden clubs and nurseries urging them to carry more local plants. Students are also asked to create a bird habitat area on school grounds. As an extension activity students adopt an endangered or threatened bird in their area, and create a poster to promote awareness for habitat creation in their community.

Design an Alien- (3 x 60 min.)

After reviewing definitions of non-native and invasive species, a class discussion about the characteristic of invasive plants and animals follows. Students then create their own imaginary alien invader using the knowledge of the characteristics that can make a species invasive. They write a description of their creature’s characteristics and present their creations to the class.

Outdoor Lessons:

Dodge the Invaders- (3 x 60min)

Students participate in a tag game which calls for native species to form a food web while avoiding the tags of invasive species. The game also highlights the roles of producers, primary, secondary and tertiary consumers, and decomposers in the habitat. After completing the game the results are discussed. Students are then directed to research an ecosystem and create a food web diagram consisting of at least 10 different species.  They then explain what would happen to that food web if invaded by a non-native species.

Invasive Species Bio-blitz- (5 x 60 min.)

After reviewing definitions of native species, non-native species, invasive species, and biodiversity a teacher-led discussion involving natural resource conservation, preservation, exploitation, and biological sampling follows. The class then visits a selected outdoor site and collects data to document the types of species and diversity of the area. Two test plots, one for native and one for non-native species are marked into quadrats and various types of information recorded. Data is then presented, and discussed.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Collecting, analyzing and interpreting data
  • Working cooperatively with team members to develop and carry out a plan
  • Communicating data effectively using mathematical calculations
  • Identifying and using a variety of sources to gather information
  • Critical and creative thinking strategies
  • Creating written and media text in a variety of forms


  • This resource is interesting, up-to-date, and easy to use
  • All lessons are well-organized and detailed for success
  • Opportunities for hands-on learning
  • Excellent data collection sheets and graphic organizers
  • Engages students in problem solving and team building
  • Well detailed background information in each lesson
  • Pre-tests and post -tests provided for each lesson
  • Excellent web resources and relevant case studies
  • Accommodations suggested for students with different abilities
  • Has outdoor activities and includes teacher tips for outdoor learning
  • Glossary references keywords and terms found in lesson plans.
  • Has local focus


  • The resource is written for a Pennsylvanian audience.  The teacher may need to make some adaptations for the local area.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource can be used to enhance and reinforce topics involving the interactions of ecosystems, biodiversity, and habitat preservation in late elementary and middle level science classes. It can also be used in after-school programs, summer camps, and environmental education programs.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (4)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Interdependence
    • Invasive Species

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

This resource aims to increase knowledge, build positive attitudes and values, enhance skills, and promote stewardship and sustainability. Activities are designed to incorporate different points of view.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

The resource provides a variety of thought-provoking activities that encourage discussion and promote action.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory

This resource does provide opportunities for self-reflection and for students to consider their roles in habitat preservation.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good

Planet stewardship and citizen science are paramount in this resource which includes 5 outdoor activities.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

The activities are based on a wide-range of instructional methods including discussions, research, hands-on field work, art projects drama productions, interactive games and citizen science. Students are encouraged to consider and develop their own thoughts and opinions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

This is primarily a science resource but many activities can be used to address outcomes in mathematics, language arts, media arts, geography, and performing arts.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Very Good

This resource offers many varied activities and each lesson has suggestions for accomodations for struggling students and students with exceptionalities.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

Pre-test and post-tests with answer keys are provided and there are many suggestions for promoting discussion. A generic rubric is provided but the teacher will need to fine tune this depending on the assignment.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

There are many opportunities in extension activities for students to go deeper into chosen issues. Many resources and links are also provided to assist the students with this.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.