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Activity 1 - Introducing Wetlands

Estimated Time of Activity: 2 class periods – 45 min each

Goals: Process Skills and Content Knowledge:

  • Students will become aware of the characteristics of a wetland.
  • Students will learn that wetlands are defined by the presence of water, specialized soils and hydrophytic plants.
  • Students will recognize some of the many names for wetlands.
  • Students will recognize the benefits of wetlands to humans and how many cultures throughout history have evolved around wetlands.


Pre-Activity Instructions:

  1. Instructor introductions. Give personal background, talk about course expectations, content and assessment.
  2. Student introduction. Allow each student to state why they are in the course and what they expect from the course.
  3. Go over syllabus.
  4. As a Do Now,​
    1. Mystery topic: show students pictures of package of rice, bag of mud, frog, alligator, shrimp, crab, and shells.
      1. Have students answer: What do all of these pictures have in common with each other? 
        1. Answer: They are all products of wetlands.
        2. Some answers you may receive include: They are living things; They can all be eaten by humans; They all are food; All live in water; They need water to grow.
    2. Show “Wetlands and Wonder: Reconnecting with Nearby Nature” Video – Have students recall what stood out to them in the video and list on the board.

Activity Instructions:

  1. Find out what kind of prior knowledge students have about wetlands. Ask students, What do you think wetland means? What do you know about wetlands, where are they located?
  2. Show “Wetlands and Wonder” Video.  Have students recall what stood out to them in the video and list on the board. (15 min).
  3. Give student facts about wetlands:
    1. Water is present at or near the grounds’ surface all or part of the time, even for as few as seven consecutive days.
    2. Depth, duration and frequency of flooding vary from wetland to wetland.
    3. Wetlands may be tidal or nontidal (unaffected by oceanic tides) and may contain fresh, salt or brackish water.
    4. Wetlands may be any size or shape, from a low spot in a field that covers a few hundred square feet to an expansive marsh that covers several hundred square miles.
    5. Wetlands are found on every continent except Antarctica and in every climate from the tropics to the tundra. They may be in coastal or inland areas, along ponds or rivers, in agricultural fields, or even in cities.
    6. Wetlands may be pristine natural areas or may have been built by people. Many have been destroyed, to one degree or another, by human activity
  4. Ask students if they can name any kind of wetland and list on the board.
  5. Hand out the Chrysti the Wordsmith on Wetlands word list. Split the class into groups of 3 – 4.
  6. Tell the class that the list of words includes ten names for wetlands but these names are hidden among words that may or may not be familiar. The students job is to identify as many of the ten wetland names as possible. 
  7. Give them 10 minutes to discuss their selections among themselves. One student in each group will act as the spokesperson and score keeper. Have them hand in one copy of the List for scoring: +2 points if correct; -1 point if incorrect. Tell them the definitions of the other words. (derived from WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands, educators guide pg. 283).
    1. Answers : bog; pocosin; carr; fen; playa; pothole; swamp; muskeg; slough; mire.
    2. Check the answer sheet from WOW! The Wonder of Wetlands for complete definitions.
  8. After the word game, discuss the fact that these wetland names all come from somewhere and have evolved to their present state.
    1. I.e. Playa – Spanish word for beach – The Spanish speaking people of the southwestern United States named these desert wetlands playas because they contain a lot of sand, just like an ocean beach.
  9. Inform students that many cultures throughout history have evolved around wetlands. Have students fill out charts as you go through on the powerpoint.


Country/ Culture  How did they use wetlands ?
Cajuns of coastal Louisiana’Atchafalya Swamp Lumber industry
Archaeologists Study ancient bodies preserved in peat deposits.
U.S. Russia, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark Use peat in gardening, insulation and energy source
Thailand and other Asian countries Rice production
Malay Archipelago, East Africa, Central and South America Source of Timber
Europe, British Isles, United States Livestock grazing, hay production
New Jersey, Massachusetts, Wisconsin Cranberry bogs
Colonial America Towns and cities used rivers for transportations and trade.


  1.  Hand out overview of Wetlands Fact sheet and go over with students. This is what we will be learning about for the next few weeks.


Hand out “Where Wetlands are Helping Fact Sheet”. Have Students choose 4 out of the 6 studies and explain how wetlands are helping the people/state using it. Have students identify the problem and how wetlands helped to solve it.

Assessment: Quality of the answers to the Home work questions.


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