Plant Travel: Studying the World through Ecosystems

In the following activity, students will examine and compare the ecosystems depicted in primary source images of plants in Finland, Ireland, and the United States. Students will then use the skills they learned analyzing primary source images to examine the ecosystems of plants around their school building. Students will be judged by their performance recording scientific field notes and answering reflective questions.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
Conduct an experiment to show how plants depend on air, water, minerals from soil, and light to grow and thrive.
Obtain and communicate information to classify plants by where they grow (water, land) and the plants physical characteristics.
Recognize how plants depend on their surroundings and other living things to meet their needs in the places they live.
Compare and contrast the regions of the United States (Southeast, Northeast, Great Plains, Southwest, and Pacific Northwest) in terms of climate, physical features, and...
Explain the cause and effect relationship between a naturally changing environment and an organism's ability to survive.
Infer that plant and animal adaptations help them survive in land and aquatic biomes.
Explain how changes to an environment's biodiversity influence human resources.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Students will understand how to examine primary sources, ask analytical questions, build critical thinking skills, take scientific field notes, and write and reflect on their actions. 

Essential and guiding questions: 

How is it possible for the same plant or animal to grow successfully in different parts of the world?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 

Helpful Hints


  • Images of Potatoes (from the Library of Congress)
  • Phone app: Leafsnap (designed by Columbia
  • University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution)
  • Blank, white sheet of paper


  • Around the World: Potatoes
  • Around the World: Drawing (1st & 2nd grade)
  • Around the World: Reflection (3rd grade)
  • Around the Schoolyard: Field Notes
  • Around the Schoolyard: Drawing (1st & 2nd grade)
  • Around the Schoolyard: Reflection (3rd grade)