Ecosystem Calendar

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Human Ecosystem Calendar

Lesson Summary

This reflective art activity works well as a follow-up to Ethnobotany Each One Teach One or time spent in the garden.

'Objectives - students will be able to:'

-  Identify and share at least one personal connection to the outdoor ecosystem in which they live (based on seasonal activities or foods)

- Learn how other students are connected to their ecosystems

- Identify how seasonal changes affect shape their outdoor activities or food choices

Lesson Title: Human Ecosystem Calendar

Age group:

4th-12th grade


A quiet outdoor spot or cozy indoor space works well.  Ideally this activity should happen after students have spent some time outdoors with their field group, and perhaps even after tasting a wild edible or garden delight. 



Ÿ  Watercolor paper (or sketching paper)

Ÿ  Watercolor pencils/Watercolor kits (or colored pencils)

  Watercolor brushes & water

  Examples of Lushootseed month names

Time: 30-45 minutes


Set up: Write down some Lushootseed names for months and seasons, or print out a few calendar pages from the Lushootseed Language Calendar.  (Please note: only the 2013 calendar has illustrations of the month names.  More recent calendars have a list of the month names, but the illustrations for each month are based on a theme such as birds)


Ask students to think about the plants they just learned about during E1T1 (or in the garden).  Which plants or plant parts might be most useful during the spring?  Summer? Fall? Winter?  Ask students to share if they were a "plant professor" for a plant that is important in a specific season.  (To help with this conversation, try to highlight the seasonality of certain plants when you are training the professors.)  

The core lesson:

Discuss how each season, and each month, is a little bit different in the natural ecosystems and that theses changes affect how humans live in the ecosystem.  "The Salish Sea cultures have names in the Lushootseed language that show how each time of year affects people in a different way.  (Give a few examples, like May is known as the time to dig roots, July is known as native blackberry season, and October is known as the time of falling leaves).  What we do outside and what we eat changes over the year.  This is even true today, even in cities!"  Give a few examples that are relevant for the students: "for me, May is when I start to play soccer outside again, July is the time for blueberry picking, August might be the month of swimming in the ocean, September is the month of apples, and December is the month of sledding."

Ask each student to think of one time of the year that is special because of a certain activity they do outside or certain food that is harvested that time of year.  Depending on your group, you may want to Think-Pair-Share to get ideas flowing.  Then tell students that they are going to create their own calendar page for that month or time of year, complete with the standard English month name "May" as well as their new name for the month "Month of soccer outside" and a watercolor painting showing that activity or food. 

Explain to students how to effectively use the watercolors/watercolor pencils and encourage them to find a nice quiet place to paint. 


Formative Assessment and Conclusion:

Visit each student while they are working to check for comprehension of the directions, understanding of the concept, and to push them to deeper thinking as needed. Also be sure to encourage their artistic interpretations!

Have students share their work with a partner, describing what they chose to call their month and why.  Have each student then introduce their partner artist and the work.  Work as a group to identify similarities and differences in the interpretations of the months between students, and discuss how all people are affected and shaped by the ecosystems in which they live, but how the ways they are shaped can be really different. 

Safety Considerations:

Point out any plants in the area that students should stay away from (i.e. stinging nettle, poison ivy, etc.) Remind students to be respectful of the environment and be gentle when finding a spot to sit.   Also, set clear boundaries for students for how far away they can go to complete their calendar painting or sketch. Remind students how to use art materials properly.

Source: Tulalip Lushootseed, "2013 Lushootseed Calendar"