K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.


(Illustration from Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen by Franz Eugen Köhler. More about the illustration)

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Related pages

  • Stone Mountain State Park: This park not only allows enjoying the beauty of the area but also provides instruction in basic geologic concepts.
  • New River State Park: Visit New River State Park and discover its unspoiled beauty as well as the flora and fauna of the area.
  • YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly: Learn about the wildlife of the mountains and practice using a compass at this conference center located outside of Asheville, NC.

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Students are fascinated with how things grow. There are all kinds of ways to use plants in the classroom. Consider creating a garden on the school grounds and grow flowers and vegetables. Make a terrarium. This sampling of instructional resources that can be found on LEARN NC provides students with hands-on experiences to explore the world of plants and trees.

Lesson Plans

Trees in your own backyard
In this lesson from the Forest History Society in Durham, North Carolina, students survey trees in the schoolyard and itemize their various benefits. They will consider human impacts on trees in the city landscape and the responsibility of citizens for preserving the urban forest. (Grade 8 Science and Social Studies)
Trees of North Carolina
Students complete activities including tree and leaf identification, species comparison, online research, measurement, and creative writing in conjunction with monthly visits to the “Iredell County Outdoor Education Site.” (Grade 4 English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science)
The case of the disappearing Pitcher Plants
This lesson addresses the cause and effect relationship between human interaction and a North Carolina endangered plant species. A role-playing scenario allows students to view the situation from a variety of positions and to collectively arrive at a solution to the problem. (Grade 8 Language Arts, Information Skills, and Science)
The life cycle of a seed
This lesson integrates science into the language arts block. Students will read about plant life cycle events and then write their own books about the life cycle of a plant. (Grade 3 English Language Arts and Science)

Best Practices

Learning from a Tress
Observation of a single tree throughout the year can be the starting point for explorations of nature, life science, and environmental science.
Hands on Biology
Hands-on science exploration clarifies difficult concepts and engages learners who have difficulty in more traditional classrooms. This article looks at an inquiry-based classroom that meets the needs of all of its students.


Plant-Parts Salad
Do you eat roots, stems, and leaves? What about flowers? Did you say “No”? Think again! Try this game to learn more about plant parts.
The Great Plant Escape
Collect your clues, solve a case, and learn more about plants doing this activity. This elementary program for 4th and 5th grade students introduces students to plant science and increase their understanding of how foods grow. Activities enhance student’s math, science, language arts, social studies, music and art.
The Secret Life of Trees
This site is “designed to help 3rd - 5th grade students gain an appreciation of trees, observe trees in their everyday lives, and develop an interest in discovering more about trees.”
Trees are Terrific!
Travel with Pierre Quercus as you learn how trees are important to us. This site is designed to help young children (5-8 years of age) gain an appreciation of trees, observe trees in their every day lives and develop an interest in learning more about trees.
Plan, research, share ideas and stories on this website devoted to gardens, mini-ecosystems, and everything you might grow in or near your home or classroom.
Plants in Motion
Watch the stinkiest flower in the world bloom, the Titan Arum a.k.a. the Corpse Flower. Other time-lapse movies document the secret lives of plants and flowers, from the germination of a sunflower to the movements of a tomato plant following the sun.