3-5 Teachers Guide

The Greatest Good film was produced by the US Forest Service in honor of its Centennial celebration in 2005. The film offers a historical overview of the last 100 years of natural resource management.

The Greatest Good can be purchased on DVD and includes three disks. Disc 1 contains the two-hour history documentary film, detailing, in four 30-minute parts, some of the major Forest Service events and issues from the early 1900's to present. Disc 2 contains bonus materials, including the original film trailers (ads), as well as music videos, various views on hot topics in the Forest Service, and historic public service announcements. Disc 3 contains additional bonus materials including such topics as Fire, Smokey Bear, brief historical short stories, and historical out-takes from the film. To learn more about what is on the three discs, see The Greatest Good DVD index.

Lesson Plans & Discussion Ideas

"The Fight for Conservation, 1864-1910"[Disc 1, Part I] or "2004 Trailer"[Disc 2] - about the initial idea of public lands in America and the development of the US Forest Service

  • Forester's Job (grades 4-5, lesson by Georgia Pacific) - Students can learn more about being a forester.

"Building the System, 1911-1940"[Disc 1, Part II] - the management of public lands by the US Forest Service

  • Off to Camp We Go! (grades 3-5) - Students will explore the work and impact of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
  • Revitalizing the Spirit (grades 4 & 5) - Students can begin to gain an understanding of the conservation movement in the 20th century.
  • Sounds Around, a PLT* activity (grades 1-6) - Students gain an understanding of resource management's interaction with students.
  • Tree Treasures, a PLT* activity (grades 2-6) - Students gain an understanding of natural resources and human impacts on the environment.
  • Who Works in This Forest?, a PLT* activity (grades 3-6) - Students explore a variety of jobs related to forest resources.

"Building the System, 1911-1940"[Disc 1, Part II] and/or "Boom!"[Part III] or "Popeye in the Woods"[Disc 2], or "Fire"[Disc 3] - information about wildfires on public lands

  • "Living with Fire" (Grades 4 and up) The US Forest Service offers students the opportunity to learn more about Fire Management through an interactive game.

"The Greatest Good? 1971-2005"[Disc 1, Part IV] - evolving Forest Service management policies - policy changes due to new understandings of ecosystems

  • We All Need Trees, a PLT* activity (grades 4-6) - Students examine the idea of sustainable use of resources.
  • Renewable or Not?, a PLT* activity (grades 4-8) - Students take a closer look at resource management as a means to meeting the needs of human population growth.

"Conservation Leaders"[Disc 2] - short overview of the Forest Service and conservation

  • Greenbelt in Your Schoolyard (grades 3-8, Science & Social Studies) The Greenbelt Alliance offers lessons that allow student to take a closer look at nature as it relates to urban life.

"2004 Trailer"[Disc 2] - overview of the film offering an extremely brief history of the Forest Service

"Woodsy Owl"[Disc 2] - public service announcements with Woodsy and a look at an anti-litter campaign - Great to show when introducing a pollution discussion with students.

  • Pollution Solution - (grade 4) The Helix Water District offers this activity for students to think about water pollution. There is a coordinating Math worksheet.
  • Critter Clues, (grades 3-6) The EPA offers this activity for students to learn how aquatic organisms can be indicators of water quality.
  • In the Air, (grades-3-6) Developed by Missouri Botanical Garden's EarthWays Center through EPA funding. Students will learn about air pollution and ways to improve air quality.
  • Water Pollution, (grades 3-6) The EPA offers this activity for students to learn some of the ways water is polluted and simulate the steps in the water-treatment process.
  • The Rotten Truth, (grades 3-6) The EPA offers this activity for students to learn about the decomposition process.
  • Pollution Search, a PLT* activity (grades 2-6 with Pre-K-2 variations) - students will identify forms of pollution and the relationship between humans and pollution.

"Smokey Bear"[Disc 3] - various historic information about Smokey Bear - Excellent for discussing wild fires and fire.

Continue to check the Forest History Society website for further modules being added to the "If Trees Could Talk" curriculum.