Make Your Own Field Card - Coniferous Trees of the Eastern Sierra Nevada
In this activity, you will create, print, and (optionally) laminate your own field guide card(s) to common species of Coniferous Trees found in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.
When next you visit the Easter Sierra Nevada (or other places in the geographic and climactic ranges where these trees are found -- maybe even near your home!) use your field card to learn to recognize these different species.
On the back of your card(s), you may print a checklist of all of these species. Use your checklist as a fun "scavenger hunt" contest with your family to try to be the first to identify all of the species on your list!
A copy of the field guide template. I've provided this as a Google Doc, so you may use the free Google Docs Editor to build your field guide.
A computer printer (color, ideally)
Clear contact paper/shelf paper. Alternatively, you may place your guide(s) into sheet protectors, and keep them in a field notebook.
Make your own copy of the field guide template using Google Docs. Here's a scaled-down image of the field guide, so you can see what we're talking about:
Add photographs or sketches of the organisms you want to have on your field guide. I recommend making different field guides for different organisms, e.g. Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Insects, Flowering Plants, Shrubs, Deciduous Trees, Coniferous Trees, etc. But you are free to create your guide your way!
I like to place the "common name" (what most people who aren't scientists call the organism) above the image. Beneath the image, add the scientific name (Genus and Species), and below that the Family name.
This kind of field guide is a visual quick reference. Another kind of field guide might have only one organism per page, and would add additional information about the organism, such as where it is found, what it eats/what conditions help it grow best, information about its lifecyle and reproduction, and behaviors. You might also want to add information such as if the organism is or has been used for food or tool-making or clothing-making, or if it has medicinal properties, and if there are any stories or superstitions about the organism.
When you have completed your Field Guide, you may optionally want to place a list of the common names of your organisms on the back side of the guide. You can use that as a checklist, and have a contest with your family. You can try to sight each organism, and check them off the list, or you might try to keep a count of how many of each organism you see on your travels through the Eastern Sierra Nevada.
Optionally, laminate the page to make it water-proof and durable. If you do laminate your guide, you may use grease pencil to check off organisms on your check list, and wipe the page clean with a rag or paper towel when you come home so that you may reuse the checklist again on your next adventure!