Ethnobotany Each One Teach One

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Lesson Summary

This lesson introduces students to specific native and non-native plants found in the forest and their ethnobotanical uses. Students also get a chance to teach and learn from one another, one on one. This lesson takes place along a trail, starting in one place and ending in another. 

This lesson takes place on a trail- most IW trails work well, and it can also help break up a long hike from one place to another. The only materials necessary are the E1T1 cards that can be found in any instructors' crate. Also, this lesson can happen on any day of the week. Facilitating this lesson earlier on in the week, though, enables students to feel connected to a plant that they can also recognize and identify throughout the week. Later in the week, this lesson ties together scientific and cultural content. 



Students will be able to...

  • Learn new science and cultural information by teaching it to fellow students.
  • Identify at least two plants and share one way each is used by native communities. 



  • Leaf in a Bag
  • Along-the-trail Plant ID Quiz 
  • Perspective Story (from the perspective of plants, or from the perspective of a human using the plants)
  • Discussion Questions to assess student learning
  • Scientific drawing of plant
  • Plant Advertisement (see extention below)

Age group: 9 + up Venue/s: Trails, going uphill, preferably

Materials: E1T1 Cards

Time: 45-60 minutes

Set up: None

The Lesson


"Are you an expert on anything? Today, you have the opportunity to become the expert on one of the plants in this ecosystem. You will learn some information about it from me and then teach it to the rest of the team."

The Lesson:

 It's also important that the chaperone in your group understands the instructions fully. 

  • Frame the lesson for your students by telling them that they will become experts and teachers. You might also want to introduce the term "ethnobotany" and facilitate a brainstorm on the ways people are connected to and depend on plants. 

Explain the following directions before beginning the activity: 

  1. The instructor will begin by walking along the trail and will stop by a plant. After the instructor leaves the group, the chaperone will release one student down the trail every 2 or 3 minutes. When the first student reaches the instructor, the instructor will show them the plant and give them some facts and an informational card about that plant. The student becomes the expert on that plant and will remain there, teaching a few facts to each student that comes down the trail. The instructor then moves down the trail and stops at a different plant. 
  2. The second student walking down the trail stops when they reach the first student to learn about their plant, and then continues until they reach the instructor who will assign them their own plant to teach about. This pattern continues until the chaperone has sent each student down the trail to learn from their classmates and has been assigned their own plant. 
  3. Once the chaperone has released all of the students, the chaperone walks down the tail. Each time the chaperone reaches a student, that student teaches the chaperone a few facts about their plant, and then the chaperone remains there, sending that student on to learn from their classmates, one at a time. After a couple of minutes of waiting, the chaperone continues on, learning from and then sending on each student they come across. 
  4. At the other end of the activity, students will rejoin the instructor one at a time, in the same order that they left at the start, having both learned from and taught each member of the group. 
  5. Check for understanding of the group and leave time for questions, as well as these reminders: stop and wait if they catch up with a pair still learning/teaching, giving them a chance to finish before approaching the next student. Ensure that if there are trail junctions along the way, there will be someone placed near a trail junction to make sure that no one takes the wrong path. 
  6. Suggest some time-filler games to your group and your chaperone to play while they wait for their turn. 


  • Begin the activity. Each time you greet a student by a plant, you might ask them to describe what they notice about it before sharing what you know about it. When you give the student the card, remind them to choose a couple of facts to prefect, rather than to just read the card to their peers. Also, remind them that they will stay next to their plant until they are sent on by the chaperone. 
  • Once each student has been given a plant, find a place on the trail out of sight of the last student where you can wait for them to return to you one by one. When each student returns, ask them a question or two to find out about their experience. 
  • You can have students journal about their experience or do a scientific drawing of their plant. 


Transfer of Learning

  • Challenge students to find their plant in a different ecosystem at IslandWood, and find out why they are or are not in that ecosystem. 
  • If you saw that plant at home, what would you want to notice about it so that you would be able to identify it again? 
  • Challenge students to find their Each one teach one plant back at home! 
  • What plants do you see every day? What are some uses for that plant?  

Lesson Extentions


Students create a poster advertisement for a PNWplant.  They will need to provideevidence for the claim that their designated plant is the best in the forest!The poster will include a botanical sketch, and information from referencematerials.   Their advertisement is meantto be eye-catching, informational, and creative. Optional: As part of aend-of-lesson gallery walk, students can vote on which advertisement (not theirown) provided the most evidence for the claim that their plant was the best in theforest.

  • Botanical Sketching/painting

Relevant Journal Pages:

  • "Humans in the Ecosystem"
  • Blank/Lined pages 

Safety Considerations

Remind them never to eat anything in the natural world without specific guidance from an adult they know and trust, who says it is o.k. Be sure that all understand that they must stay on the trail and not run. Ensure that if there are trail junctions, you have a person at or near them to be sure that nobody takes a wrong path.

Relevant Pages