California’s Coastal Forests
By Christina Camera
Santa Ana, CA, United States
Have you ever seen a California redwood or giant sequoia in person? Imagine looking up at the tallest, largest trees on earth. You come to a forest and the trees seem to stretch up to the sky. Standing at the base of a California redwood and peering up is an awesome experience. The tallest tree in the world is a California redwood that measures almost 380 feet high!
The diameters of these giants are also amazingly huge. Some of them measure 50 feet in diameter, because they have been growing since the days of Roman Empire. That means they are between 2,400 and 2,700 years old.
Another colossal type of tree is called the giant sequoia. One of these, known as the General Sherman Tree, is the largest tree in the world, measured by volume. It is 275 feet tall and has a circumference at the ground of almost 103 feet!
How Does This Happen?
These two tree species, the redwood and the giant sequoia, are the tallest and largest living plants on earth, respectively. That they both live in the forests of Northern California is no coincidence. The region’s coastal fog supports their growth and water needs during warm, dry months.
This unique environment makes a great home for many types of plants and animals. You can find these animals, to name just a few:
- gray foxes
- black bears
- spotted owls
Even if you’ve not visited Northern California, the area might look familiar to you if you’ve seen Jurassic Park II: The Lost World. A fun fact about this movie is that a character met his demise in prehistoric-looking Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
No matter how old you are, everyone learns by being engaged and interested in what is before them. In writing, a hook is used to pique your interest and keep you reading. People learn best when their natural curiosity is stirred, and what better way to do this than to connect with nature.
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Learning Activity for Early Elementary: Counting
Sample Operations Questions:
- While sightseeing you count 15 beavers. Some of them are in the water, and six are working on gathering wood for the dam. How many are in the water?
- Every day a tourism company runs six tours to the General Sherman Tree. Today’s trips have exactly eight people on each one. How many people will go on tours today?
- The maximum number of people that a campground can hold is 23. This evening, three groups will be spending the night. If one group has nine people in it and the second group has seven, how many people can be in the third group?
- Rangers have counted 23 black bears in a region of the park. If there are 17 adults, how many black bear cubs are there?
- You are participating in a multiday bird watching expedition. One day, you count 13 jays, 5 woodpeckers and 9 wrens. How many birds did you see in total?
- Jada’s class is taking a school field trip to the coastal forest. Currently there are 6 people in the first group, 8 in the second group, and 11 in the third group. She has 17 more people to place in a group. If Jada divides the remaining people so that there is the same number of people in each group, how many people will be in each group when she is done?
- After staying in the coastal forest, Eduardo, Carolina, and Hari are inspired to paint and sell homemade art as a fundraiser. Eduardo sold two pieces of art, Carolina sold five pieces, and Hari sold three pieces. By the end of the fundraiser, the three of them raised $60 dollars to support conservation of animal habitats in the forest. On average, how much did each piece of art cost?
- One afternoon, Joe counted 15 wrens around the five trees near his campsite. On average, how many butterflies are in each tree?
- On her trip, Keira was very lucky because she saw five black bears and seven gray foxes. How many animals did Keira see in all?
- When Mark visited the park, the forest ranger told him to be careful at night because black bears have been sometimes spotted near campgrounds foraging in the trash. Over the past month, she has received 15 reports of sightings: nine in Campground 1 and the rest in Campground 2. How many bear sightings have been reported in Campground 2?
California has laws protecting certain animals and their habitats. The spotted owl that lives in Northern California is one of them. Why are these laws a good idea? What might happen if these laws were not in place?
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