Understanding Beach and Dune Ecosystems ERK
The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation has developed an educational resources kit designed to introduce students to a special ecosystem found along Great Lakes shorelines. Many students will have experienced a sandy beach on the Great Lakes, but few will likely appreciate the rarity of these ecosystems, and the plants and animals that inhabit them. Likewise, few will understand how vulnerable these ecosystems are to human activities, despite efforts to promote these areas as high value tourism and recreation areas.
The kit will provide teachers with some in-class resources for teaching about these local ecosystems, and provide an opportunity to conduct activities in the field to reinforce the concepts presented in-class. Assistance with field interpretation is available at cost from the Centre for Coastal Conservation.
Connections are identified to the Ontario Ministry of Education, Environmental Education: Scope and Sequence of Expectations, 2009 Edition, for Grades 7 and 8. The kit covers issues including biodiversity, Species at Risk, physical and human geography, science and language. While it has Lake Huron examples, the kit is applicable to beach and dune systems throughout the Great Lakes.
This Educational Resources Kit is available by email directly from the Centre. It is available free of charge to educators in Ontario.
Waves and Shore Processes;
Beach and Dune Ecological Succession;
Lake Huron Coastal Plants;
Lake Huron Animals; and,
People and the Coastal Environment.
Each section has Teachers notes, student notes and fact sheets, and activities for in-class use and field activities. Web links to relevant resources are available on the Centre’s website.
Pre-designed PowerPoint presentations are also available.
Student and Teacher Resources
The following links supplement the education resources kit produced by the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation. The links have been organized to correspond with the sections in the kit.
Section 1 - How the Shore "Works"
Beach Kids (US)
S-Cool - geography - coasts - wave formation and coastal processes (UK)
De-constructive vs Constructive Waves
Section 2 - Living Dunes
Life's a Beach teacher resources (New Zealand)
Dune grasslands in Ontario
Section 3 - Coastal Plants
Coastal Plants along Lake Huron (Ontario)
Plants of the Coastal Zone of Lake Huron (US)
Section 4 - Coastal Animals
Birds of Lake Huron
Migratory Birds of the Great Lakes
Build Your Own Field Guide (Ontario) - birds, amphibians and fish
Hognosed Snake video
Insects (University of Guelph)
Section 5 - People and the Coastal Environment
Top 10 Threats to the Great Lakes
Living by Water
Protecting Coastal Dunes - local reports and guides
Local community groups rotecting Lake Huron's beaches and dunes
Classroom and Field Activities
Centre staff will help support the classroom teacher with background information and resources, including ideas for engaging students in the classroom and in the field. Other activity ideas are available from the Centre.
Example Activities (PDFs):
It takes a special kind of plant to be able to live in a harsh, and sometimes nasty, sand dune environment. How nasty is it?
For thousands of years, this thistle has coped with blowing sand, low soil nutrients, and herbivorous mammals and insects. Today however, the Pitcher’s Thistle’s greatest threat is human activity.
The Piping Plover is a small bird of lakeshores, river sandbars, and ocean coasts. With its head and back the colour of dried sand, the Piping Plover blends well into its beach surroundings, helping it hide from predators.