Swamps comprise one type of wetland, a forested area characterised by water-soaked soil much or all of the year. Some areas of the swamp may be permanently underwater while some areas may become inundated with water during parts of the year. Swamps can be found in wetland areas throughout the world. Swamps provide homes to diverse plant and animal populations. Some, such as Mangrove Swamps, also help sustain other surrounding habitats such as coral reefs.
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Have third through sixth grade students investigate wetland biomes through read-aloud books, teacher guided text studies and independent research as age appropriate. Use a website such as Marietta College's online Wetland Tour to provide students with visual information about different wetland biomes including swamps, bayous, marshes and bogs. Instruct students to compare swamps with bayous, marshes and bogs, noting the differences between these biomes. Have students create a diagram drawn by hand or with technology that uses words and graphics to illustrates how swamps differ from other wetland biomes.
Life in a Swamp
Instruct middle school or junior high science students to imagine that they moved to a swamp and could take only limited resources with them. Students pretend they are moving to a location deep in the swamp and can take only what will fit on a small boat. Ask them to consider what humans would need to survive in the swamp given the waterlogged state of most land during at least some of the year. Have them consider how to coexist alongside the plant and animal life present in the swamp. Assign a creative writing assignment and have students write the story of their move to the swamp.
After studying the types of creatures found in swamps, have second to fourth grade students listen to a child's swamp-themed read aloud book such as "Swamp Song," by Helen Ketteman. Explain that students will listen to the author's words and judge whether or not she used factual information in describing the swamp. Have students create a two column paper with the heading "fact" on one side and "fiction" on the other. As students listen to the story, have them write events or descriptions that could be about a real swamp in the fact column and those that could not be about a real swamp in the fiction column.
Ask students to pretend that they have been hired to work as a tour guide in a swamp. The boss has asked the student to prepare a new advertising brochure describing a tour of the most important and interesting aspects of a swamp. Students create a brochure by hand or using technology that advertises and describes the tour. Students should describe in detail the sites that visitors on the tour will see as they travel through the swamp biome. By adjusting the amount of scientifically worded detail required, this activity is suitable for upper elementary, middle school or junior high students.
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