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Invasive and Native Plants (3rd - 6th) | Series 2, Lesson #2

Invasive and Native Plants

Key Topics/Vocabulary: Invasive, Non-native, Native, Adaptation, Outcompete, Drought Tolerant, Landscaping

Grade Levels: 3rd-6th

Click here for #2 Series Description

Spanish Lesson Plan

Science Framework

Lesson Bridge:

Connect this lesson (2) to Drip, Drop, Drought (1) by identifying key features of droughts and how different types of plants and species are affected. To prepare for Lesson #3 (Rainscaping) Urge students to think about which types of plants are well suited for drought-prone environments and which types of plants are not.

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson students will explore how humans interact with their environment, specifically plants. Then, they will participate in a simulation that reveals how human impact can affect the ecosystem by altering what species exist in it. During this lesson, students will understand & identify the concept of invasive versus native species. They will explore human impacts of introducing invasive species in the local environment and debate if humans are invasive or not as well as learn the values of native species and how they can restore an environment.

Suggested Activities and Learning Objectives by Grade Level:

Essential Question(s) that Connect CCCs and SEPs:


Activity Option #1: Invasive&Native plant game

Activity Option #2: Making Native Plant Guides


Activity Option #1: Invasive&Native plant game

  1. Place the natural objects across an area at the school. A flat grassy area is ideal but make sure it is not already going to be used for PE during the time you will be using it.
  2. Figure out what part of the area will be the sideline.
  3. Scout out native and non-native plants growing in and around your school garden.

Activity Option #2: Making Native Plant Guides

  1. Cut and fold cardstock paper to make it into a little book
  2. Identify a few native plants in your garden for students to add to their books
  3. Have an example Native Plant Guide to show students
  4. Prepare a station with colored pencils and tape


Invasive- A plant that is harmfully overspreading quickly

Non-native- A plant that is living or growing in a place that is not where is naturally occurs

Native- A plant that naturally occurs in particular place and has for a long time

Adaptation- When an animal changes to become better suited to its environment

Outcompete- When a plant or animal displaces a another plant or animal by taking its space, food or other resources

Drought Tolerant- A plant that can live for a long period of time without water

Landscaping- To change a piece of land by moving soil, making mounds, or planting.

Activity Procedure:


Who here knows what a native plant is? What about a non-native plant?  Non-natives are plants  that people brought to this area from far away--often from other areas with similar climates. These plants can live wild alongside native plants. What’s an invasive plant? (A non-native plant that causes a lot of damage in the areas it grows wild). Can anyone give me examples?


Take a walk through the garden and or areas of campus and explore invasive and native plants.

Native plant examples: Sages, ceanothus, manzanita, coyote bush, willow, madrone, cottonwood, sycamore, coffee berry, oak, monkey flower, buckwheat.

Invasive plant examples: Annual grasses, mustard, most thistles, star thistle, mallow, iceplant, fennel, eucalyptus, english ivy, oxalis, periwinkle, etc..


One of the most serious threats to native plants and animals is invasive plants. When certain non-native or exotic plant species start to invade an area where native plants grow, they take water, sunlight, and space away from these native plants! With fewer native plants, many of the native animals have less to eat and the whole food chain is disrupted. Loss of native species may mean loss of valuable genetic material, which could someday provide valuable medicines or foods. Loss of diversity makes our world a little less interesting and less beautiful. Work together to define the vocabulary words.


Option #1: Invasives vs Natives Model

  1. Review your Garden Agreements
  2. Explain what each object represents. Pine Cones represent water, wood represent sunlight, and rocks represent space (for example). Explain that each plant needs one of each to survive. There should be enough for all players to get one of each object and therefore “survive” the round. Also explain where the playing boundaries are and what areas are considered the sidelines.
  3. Round one: All players are native to an area and they can collect one object at a time (No running). Once they have all their tokens they move to the side lines and have a seat.
  4. Round two: Two players are given bracelets and are able to collect two of each colored token. Give them a slight head start and then let the natives come in. At the end of this round ask natives if there were any who were not able to collect all three of the necessary ingredients for life. Ideally you will have a few native plants die from not being able to get enough tokens.
  5. Round three: The dead native plants are now given bracelets and become invasive plants. This round is the same as round two with non-natives being given a head start. At the end calculate how many more native plants died.

 Option #2: Making Native Plant Guides

  1. Review your Garden Agreements
  2. Introduce the activity by showing the class your example of the Native Plant Guide, tells students they can title their book what they like
  3. Take the class for a native plant tour, showing them what plants they can pick leaves/flowers from to add to their guides and which plants they will be drawing instead of harvesting an example from, you can talk about what each plant has historically been used for in this region
  4. Allow students to collect a piece of cardstock and colored pencils to begin creating their booklets
  5. Have them draw/write their title pages first since once they begin taping examples in the book it will be hard to create the title page
  6. Write each plant name on the board for students to reference


What did you learn from the game? What was different in the different rounds? How do you think the game helped you understand the way invasive plants harm a plant community?

What are some ways we can help native plants survive better in our area? How do you think we can better landscape to prevent drought?

Extension Activities:

Gardens Change Lives!                                                          Page  of