What’s Your Local Nature IQ?

Every day, you and your children spend time in a thriving ecoregion. An ecoregion is a geographic area defined by its climate, topography, and plant and animal communities. All of us live in an ecoregion, even if our immediate community is heavily urbanized. But how much do your children know about this ecoregion? How much do they know about the plants, animals, and natural cycles that share and shape their region? Try the following quiz to help them get started.

Before you distribute copies of the quiz to your children, reassure them that they don't have to know the correct answers. The quiz is simply a way to find out how much or how little they know about the natural world where they live.

After your children have filled out the quiz as best they can, discuss their experiences. Were they able to answer any of the questions? Which ones? Then have them pair up to redo their answers for homework, this time making use of library, Internet, and community resources to find their answers.

  1. What major habitat type do you live in? (Examples are temperate forest, temperate rain forest, grassland, desert, and so on.)
  2. Name three native trees that live in your area. Collect a leaf from each one.
  3. Name five edible plants that grow in your region, and list in which season(s) each is available.
  4. Name one poisonous plant that grows in your area.
  5. Name ten native animals that live in your region.
  6. Name three native animals that you can see in your area at any time of year.
  7. Name three migratory animals that live in your area, and list in which season(s) you're able to see them.
  8. Do deer live in your area? If so, at what time of year do they give birth?
  9. How much average rainfall does your community get each year?
  10. When (during what season or month) does your community normally get the most precipitation?
  11. How long is the growing season in your community?
  12. What is the average temperature in July? In December?
  13. What are some natural signs in your community that show that the seasons are changing?
  14. What body of water--lake pond, stream, or river--is closest to your school?
  15. How has your area changed in the past 25 years?
  16. What types of plants and animals lived in the area 10,000 years ago? What was the climate like then?
  17. What species in your area--if any--are threatened or endangered?
  18. What natural events or processes have shaped the land around your community? For example, have there ever been glaciers? Volcanoes? Do frequent fires, high winds, or flooding shape where and how things grow?
  19. Are there any threatened ecological areas in your community? (Are any wetlands, rivers, or forests, for example, in trouble?)
  20. Name a non-native species that has created problems in your community.

*Adapted, with permission, from "Ecoregional Survey" in Windows on the Wild: Biodiversity Basics (World Wildlife Fund, 1999).