Environment Exchange Boxes - Eva Varga

February 10, 20124

Have you ever marveled at the differences between the natural environments of your home region and those of areas through which you travel?  I know I do.  I grew up on the southern Oregon coast, lived in the Willamette Valley through college, and we started our family while living in central Oregon.  Even within this one small state, the ecosystems are varied and thereby the plants and animals that reside there are diverse.   I now live in Northern California and I am amazed at how distinctly different the ecology is here.

To celebrate the diversity of the regions in which we live, I am organizing an exchange activity.  However, I will need your help.  I don’t have many followers so you’ll need to help spread the word.  I’ve also shared the project with my local homeschool community.   The activity is based upon Project Learning Tree‘s activity #20, Environmental Exchange Box (click upon the link for the PDF of the lesson plan).   Follow this link for visual ideas, PLTs Forest Exchange Boxes.

Essentially, each family puts together a box of things found in your local natural environment … a selection of pressed leaves and flowers, seashells, seeds and cones, a vial of sand, feathers, a few stones, a sound recording of local birds, stories the kids have written about their favorite things to do in their area, photographs, samples of non-perishable regional foods (maple syrup, walnuts, etc.), and/or  copies of newspaper clippings relating local environmental issues.

We can also use a webcam and/or YouTube to facilitate the exchange – allowing the students an opportunity to interact with their exchange partners to explain the contents of the box they prepared.    What you select and how you organize your box is up to you.  Be creative!

Everyone wishing to participate would be given the address of another family to whom to send their box. You mail a box just once.

Those interested in taking part should submit the information below via email.  I will thereafter assign each participating family a partner family with whom to exchange boxes.

  • Name
  • School Name (if you have one)
  • Address
  • Telephone Number (include area code)
  • Age of Students
  • Email Address
  • Preferred state or region with which you would like to exchange (not guaranteed)

This exchange project has concluded.


  • Jaclyn Stallard, Project Learning Tree

    February 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    We are thrilled Project Learning Tree has inspired you to conduct an environmental exchange among homeschoolers. You can use this exercise to teach many discipline areas, including but not limited to science, social studies, reading, writing, math, technology, and performing arts. For ideas on how, check out this article found in PLT’s online newsletter, The Branch: http://www.plt.org/-exchange-box-activity-provide-array. Please remember to research any restrictions your partner state may have on receiving plant or animal materials. And have fun!

  • Janet

    February 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    can I do this with a Sunday School class?

  • Eva Varga

    February 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    This is a project that lends itself to both small groups and larger classes. In a school setting, you can assign specific items to students and/or allow them to bring in whatever they feel inclined to share. You can also ask the class to illustrate the different ecosystems in your local area – pond, oak grove forest, meadow, stream, etc. – essentially creating small posters (say 8.5 x 11″). Each student could bring in a post card and a few could bring in natural products grown in your area (dried cranberries, nuts, etc.).

    In either setting, one box is put together to be exchanged with another participating class or homeschool.


  • Eva Varga

    February 24, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Thank you, Jaclyn! I have done this once before when I was in a public school setting in Oregon. I am excited to take part again.

    BTW ~ I am a former PLT facilitator. I absolutely love the curricula!!! Thank you so much for the inspiration! 🙂

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