With a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees (and often featuring dramatic changes from season to season!) the temperate forest biome is a fascinating ecosystem providing a home for a diverse range of plant and animal species.
In this post, we’ll explore this beautiful biome and share useful resources for putting together a forest unit study. Keep reading to learn more about the temperate forest!
A biome is a large region characterized by a specific type of climate, vegetation, and animal life. Some biome examples are wetlands, grasslands, and tundra. Learning about biomes can help young children understand the importance of biodiversity and how different organisms depend on each other. In this post, we’ll focus on the temperate forest biome.
About the Temperate Forest Biome
Temperate forests are typically found in regions that have four distinct seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter). Although winter temperatures in the temperate forest often fall below freezing, the summer months are mild, with an average summer temperature of 70°F (21°C). Combined with moderate annual rainfall – between 30-60 inches (76-152 cm) – this mild climate makes the temperate forest an ideal environment for many plant and animal species to thrive.
Temperate forests include a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees, including spruce, pine, oak, maple, and birch trees. The needles of coniferous temperate forest trees, such as the pine and spruce, stay green all year round and can photosynthesize even in the winter months. In contrast, the leaves of deciduous trees change colors and fall off in the fall season. This happens because the leaves of deciduous trees stop producing chlorophyll, the pigment that gives leaves their green color.
The temperate forest biome is also home to a variety of plants such as ferns, wildflowers, and mosses. These plants provide food and shelter for a diverse range of animal species, including black bears, deer, moose, foxes, raccoons, squirrels, and many birds such as owls, hawks, and woodpeckers.
The Temperate Forest Biome: Fun Facts for Kids
- The oldest living tree, a Great Basin bristlecone pine, is over 5,000 years old and lives in California’s temperate forest.
- The temperate forest biome is home to the second largest land mammal in North America – the moose. (Curious about which animal is the largest land animal in North America? It’s the bison!)
- The only marsupial found in North America, the Virginia opossum, is a resident of the temperate forest.
- The monarch butterfly, known for its beautiful orange and black wings, migrates through the temperate forest biome on its way to Mexico each year.
- The aspen tree, which is found in the temperate forest biome of North America, reproduces by sending up new shoots from its extensive root system, creating large groves of genetically identical trees.
- The Siberian tiger, the world’s largest cat – weighing over 600 pounds! – lives in Asia’s temperate forests.
- The gray squirrel, a common rodent in the temperate forest, can jump up to 20 feet from tree to tree.
- The sugar maple, a tree in the temperate forests of North America, is the primary source of maple syrup production.
- The white-tailed deer, common in the temperate forest biome, can run up to 30 mph.
- The redwood tree, found in North America’s temperate forests, can live for thousands of years and even survive wildfires.
Curriculum Resources for the Temperate Forest Biome
- In the Forest Phonological Awareness Pack Forest-themed phonological and phonemic awareness: rhymes, syllables, beginning, middle, and ending sounds, and more!
- In the Forest Preschool Pack Work on various early learning skills including matching, counting, fine motor skills, and more.
- Forest Animals 3-Part Cards Use these 3-part cards of 14 forest creatures for vocabulary development. This pack also includes blacklines so children can make their own little booklets!
Plus, be sure to grab these free printables from the Trillium Resource Library:
- Animals of North America 3-Part Cards (many of the animals in this printable set are forest biome residents)
- Common Birds 3-Part Cards (lots of forest biome residents in this set too!)
- Parts of a Tree 3-Part Cards
Temperate Forest Books and Materials
- Woodland Animals Puzzle from Mirus Toys – realistic illustrations, large pieces, and bonus information about animal tracks make this puzzle appealing to a range of ages in your class.
- Leaf Rubbing Plates from Montessori Services – includes 16 tree/leaf varieties. These are fun to use with rectangular crayons or with thick chunky crayons with the wrappers peeled off.
- Match a Leaf Memory Game Use the included booklet to create control charts for these tree and leaf pairs.
- Whose Tracks are These? This picture book offers clues to help children guess which animal left tracks in the forest.
- Listen to The Language of the Trees This richly illustrated book shares details about the ways that trees interact and share nutrients underground, and could be a nice conversation starter with your older students. (Although this book describes the trees as “speaking” with one another – obviously not realistic – the science is very real and quite fascinating!)
Temperate Forest Printables from Around the Web
- Forest Animal Montessori Grammar Activities from Welcome to Mommyhood – a beautiful low-cost option for grammar practice with a forest focus. This post has a link to the printable pack plus some great photos of this material assembled and in action.
- Deciduous and Coniferous Trees Sorting Activity from I Believe in Montessori – full-color photographs featuring deciduous and coniferous trees from around the world.
- Forest Animal Art Appreciation Printable Activity from Living Montessori Now – these printables can be used for art appreciation, handwriting practice, and more.
Crafts and Hands-On Activities
- How Water Travels Through Leaves Experiment from Buggy and Buddy – this experiment uses colored water to highlight the movement of water through the leaves of plants.
- Tissue Paper Tree Collages from Where Imagination Grows – set up on a tray, this would make a nice one-person art activity for your fine motor shelf. The projects could be displayed as a temporary “class forest” before sending them home.
- Pine Cone Bird Feeders from Fireflies and Mud Pies – a classic forest-themed activity. Many of you likely made these yourselves as children with peanut butter and bird seed! This post has helpful tips for adapting the project if folks in your group have nut allergies.
- Pine Cone Science from Play Dough to Plato – do you live in an area with lots of pine cones? This post shares a simple yet fascinating demonstration about why pine cones are sometimes spread open and sometimes closed tightly!