THE SHAPE OF BETTS MEADOWCTEACHER=S GUIDE
1. What is a wetland?
2. When Gunnar first went to Betts Meadow and took pictures, he found that
someone had blocked the stream. Why did they block the stream?
3. What happened to the meadow after the stream had been blocked?
4. As a doctor, Gunnar used tools like a stethoscope to help people. What tools did
he use to help Betts Meadow?
5. How did Gunnar use the bulldozer, the dragline crane and the fact-finding flight to
help create the wetland?
6. What happened when it rained and snowed?
7. What kind of plants began to grow at Betts Meadow?
8. What kind of animals came to Betts Meadow?
1. In the environment there are many organisms that live together and help each
other, such as bees and flowers. Bees need flowers to give them nutrients and flowers
need bees to spread their pollen to help them grow. These are called symbiotic
relationships. Give an example of a symbiotic relationship that exists in a wetland.
2. The author says that Gunnar and his mother decided to help Betts Meadow as a
gift back to the earth. Make a list of five things that we get from the earth and five things
we could do to give back.
3. At the end of the book, there is a section called, AWhat is a Wetland?@ that talks
about what the wetlands provide. Write a paragraph describing what would happen if
there were no more wetlands.
4. Even though wetlands help purify our ground water, why is harmful to the
environment if each of us dumped waste into ponds and rivers and seas?
1. Meadow 11. Sawbeak
2. Critters 12. Mosquitoes
3. Deserve 13. Cougar
4. Stethoscope 14. Company
5. Burrow 15. Bugle
6. Gnaw 16. Wallow
7. Trickle 17. Dapple
8. Mustache 18. Rumble
9. Sapling 19. Sedge
10. Cutthroat 20. Coyote
1. Define each word and make sentences using the word correctly.
2. Crossword puzzle
3. Word finder
1. Using the story (including the author=s note at the beginning), draw your own
vision of Betts Meadow before and after Gunnar helped shape it back into a wetland.
2. In the story, the author uses words and expressions to help the reader form a
picture of Betts Meadow in their mind. Pick one of the stanzas in the poem and draw a
picture of what you see. Be creative. Try not to copy the illustrator's art. Perhaps you
could draw a close-up image where she has drawn a wide angle picture or vice versa. Use
one of the excerpts below or choose one of your own.
A. ALike a giant metal dragon,
his dragline crane
gnawed and clawed
and belched black smoke@
B. Pondweed wallowed below water lilies
that sunbathed on the surface.
Cattails, rooted in marsh mud,
Sent shoots to the stars.@
3. Make a poster or class collage which illustrates our uses of water, how water
becomes polluted and how we can protect water. Do you see a relationship
between any of our uses for water and how it becomes polluted?
1. Imagine that you and your family or your friends went on a trip to Betts Meadow.
Write about all the things that you would do and see there.
2. Write about what you think Gunnar did after he finished his work at Betts
Meadow. Did he stay there? Did he leave and help to create more wetlands?
3. Write a letter to Gunnar and his mom and thank them for all the hard work that
they did and how what they did made a difference in the world.
4. Write to one of the organizations in the back of the book and ask for more
information on wetlands. Then, after you received the information, give an oral report to
the class about what you learned.
5. Go to the library or on the internet and research wetlands. Then, write about
what happens to the environment when wetlands are destroyed.
6. Read newspapers and magazine articles about stories of people who are helping
the environment. Write an essay about what you learned from them. Include your
thoughts about what each person did similarly or differently. Which project seems
to have made the most success and why?
7. Do you see a relationship between any of our uses for water and how it becomes
polluted? Write an essay about what you discovered from the collage or picture you
have made about water. What changes can people make in their behavior or use of
water that would benefit the environment?
1. Write a story or poem about one of your favorite animals, plants or places in
nature--it could be a place in your own backyard, nearby park, porch or window sill.
2. Write a story or poem about someone you know who has worked to save the
3. Write a poem using some of the vocabulary words listed above.
4. Identify some of the plants, animals or insects near your home. Choose one
whose name is appealing to you--maybe because of the way it sounds. List five
characteristics of that plant or animal or insect. Be sure to use all of your senses when
describing your choice. How does if feel and smell? What color is it? Use all of these
details in a poem or story.
5. Keep a log of the sights, smells and sounds you hear before, during and after a
rainstorm. Write a poem about the storm or use these discoveries in combination with
one of the other suggestions above. How did the landscape change? Does a bird come
to drink from a hollow in a rock that was once dry? Does an animal footprint wash
away? Imagine where the bird came from and where the tracks might have led you
had you followed them before the storm.
1. In the story, Gunnar and his mother were two people who made a big difference to make
the earth a better place. Do something to make the earth better and write about it. How
did what you did help? How did it make you feel?
2. In the story, we see how nature helps people and how people help nature. Perform a skit
with characters that are people, animals and plants (maybe a tree or a flower) and show
how they all help each other.
3. Tell Gunnar's story though dance. Classmates may take turns being a bulldozer or crane, a
darting kingfisher or swaying cattail. Move through the classroom or playground like a
graceful mountain lion. Do a dance in concert with nature.
4. After all of your research for these activities you have gained knowledge about the
importance of wetlands. Write a persuasive letter to your state and federal congressmen
and women to support wetlands, or attend a public meeting to defend wetlands.
1. Water Sheds
Materials: white paper, water-based markers, spray water bottle.
Purpose: To demonstrate how a watershed works.
Draw a picture with water-based markers on a half sheet of paper.
Fold the paper in three or four times and open in up. You will have peaks and dips similar
to a mountains and valleys.
Spray water on your picture and watch where the marker colors run. This is like the path
of rain water as it runs over the land. Each of the paths is considered a water shed.
2. Soil Erosion
Materials: clear, 2 liter, soda pop bottle or equivalent; gravel, sand, top soil,
Kool-aid packet, spray water bottle.
Lay plastic bottle on its side. Poke holes in the cap. Cut a two to three inch wide swath
off the top of the bottle as it is laying on its side.
Fill 3/4 full with gravel, sand and then top soil.
Sprinkle Kool-aid (dried) over the soil. (This represents pollution)
Spray the spoil with water bottle as if it is raining.
Observe the path of the Kool-aid.
Crossword Puzzle Hints
1. The bulldozer _____________ed like an earthworm to dig deep ponds.
6. After the crane loosened the banks, water began to ________ all
7. The daredevil kingfishers ___________d and darted in the streambeds.
9. The dayglow tree frogs ate ___________________.
10. Gunnar poured cutthroats and planted _____________s.
11. Love notes, which were nuzzled in buttercups and touch-me-nots,
________d by elk.
14. Gunnar feeds and waters Betts Meadow because he believes that
meadow ___________s a drink.
15. Above the water lilies that sunbathed on the surface, pondweed
16. At the beginning of the story, no insects, fish or animals lived at
Meadow, not even the ________________.
2. The engine inside the fact-finding plane ___________d and rattled.
3. In Betts Meadow, bears kept _____________ with cougars.
4. When Gunnar bought Betts Meadow, it was dry and there weren=t
5. When Gunnar came to Betts Meadow, he exchanged his
_____________ that he
used as a doctor for a bulldozer, a crane and a fact-finding plane.
8. When Gunnar was bulldozing, dust got all over his ______________.
12. The dragline crane is like a dragon as it ________s and claws.
13 In June, pink, white and blue wildflowers bloomed where Gunnar
sprinkled seeds in every inch of the ____________.