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 DVD 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 wildfire, Smokey Bear, brief historical short stories, and historical outtakes 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 U.S. Forest Service

"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 U.S. 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.