Additional Phenology Lesson Ideas

Portland BUDWATCH: Youth Phenology Citizen Science Program

Suggested Lesson Plans and Activities for 6-12th grade


Classroom Activities

1. Start a basic Class Herbarium to study your local plants. Contact your nearest University herbarium for standard protocols and how to acquire materials, or make up your own!

Online Protocol: How to Start Your Own Herbarium


Portland State University Herbarium Phone: (503) 725-3872

email:   Web Site:

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria Link:

2. Generate a customized plant distribution map using the Oregon Flora Project website:


3. Budburst in the Classroom

Link (all grades):

4. International Migratory Bird Day- 2nd Saturday of May

Read about the 2010 Festival of Birds in Portland to celebrate migratory birds

5. Share Your Results:

Start a Class Blog

Present to your local Native Plant Society

Native Plant Society of Oregon; Eugene, OR



Outdoor Activities

1. Scent of Spring-Learning scents

Take students around to what is blooming having them smell certain flowers (then test them with a blindfold!)

2.  Make and Keep a Phenology Journal—Five Minute Phenology (Making Observations)


3. Visit your local herbarium:

Columbia River Herbarium, Portland State University (HPSU)

Herbarium Phone:  503-725-8759 or (503) 725-3872; email:

4.  Make a Plant Press

Be responsible: Only pick a plant where is an abundance; Never pick rare or endangered plants.


5. Make a Seasonal Calendar: Make phenological observations and take photos of plants and birds, and archive them (electronically) daily.  Compare them from year to year. 

6. Plant shrubs or plants in your schoolyard to monitor phenology and report your results

7. Monitor Temperature along with Plant and Tree Phenology Observations.  Graph Data.  (How many plant buds appeared in March, April, May…)

8. Class Science Project: Grow and observe 2 plants with different temperature surroundings.


Middle/High School Grades (Lesson Plans/Activities/Ideas)

1. (Grades 7-12) Botanical Scavenger Hunt

Link: Sketch the parts of plants-Project Budburst 

2. (Grades 9-12) Create a Dichotomous key-Project Budburst


3. Tree Identification: (Outdoor School Activity) Teacher selects different trees and puts a flag at each one.  Students work on teams with their dichotomous key to correctly identify each tree with their teacher’s approval.

(Grades 6-12) Oregon Dichotomous Tree Finder


4. (Grades 9-12) Phenology and Growing Degree Days: Grow and calculated the Degree Days of a certain plant you have placed near the school or observe in your local area.

Introduction Article: Link:

Link to

5. (Grades 9-12) For further thought: Ecological Implications of Phenology. Study climate change information in your local area. How has climate changed?  How may it change in the future?


Sense of Place Activities

1. (Mature students) Meet a Tree - Outdoor School activity where students are put in pairs or  groups of 3.  One student wears a blind fold. Their partner(s) select a tree.  The partner spins the blindfolded student 3 times then leads them to the tree.  The blindfolded student uses all senses but taste to make observations of the tree.  Partner guides blindfolded student back and spins 3 times slowly.  Takes blindfold off and student tries to find the selected tree using the observations they made while blindfolded.  Switch turns.  Then both journal about their experiences.

2. Write a poem or story about a plant or tree: Students find a place by themselves near a plant  or tree and write.  They are encouraged to use other trees, plants and wildlife around them.





Gilkey, H.M. & L.R.J. Dennis. 2001. Handbook of Northwestern Plants, revised edition. Corvallis, OR, Oregon State University Press.

Pojar, J. & A. MacKinnon. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Vancouver B.C., Lone Pine Publishing.



Theilgaard Watts, May. Tree Finder, A Manual for the Identification of Trees by Their Leaves. It's a mini-guide to over a hundred North American trees and their leaves.

Pojar, J. & A. MacKinnon. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Vancouver B.C., Lone Pine Publishing.



Jolley, R. 1988. Wildflowers of the Columbia River Gorge. Portland, OR, Oregon Historical Society Press.



USDA Plants Database Link:

Phenology Handbook.  Haggerty, B.P. and Mazer, S.J. 2008. University of California, Santa Barbara. Link: 



(Grades 9-12) Natsume Soseki 1275-1351. Leaves.  (Natsume Soseki is considered the Charles Dickens of Japan). Link: 

(Grades 9-12) Edna St. Vincent Millay. Spring.