Can I Eat This? Wild Edibles and Literacy

  • Can I Eat This? Using Wild Edibles to Create Community Cookbooks

Unit Title:

Can I Eat This? 


Wild edible, medicinal and poisonous plants are an ideal way to connect students to the natural world just outside their door. In this unit, students will be able to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants using guide books and plotting them on the Siftr app.  Using the collected edibles, students will then follow a procedural text to create food from their wild edibles.  Students will then create recipes on their own based on a wild edible of their choice to create community cookbooks. 

Grade Level:

7-12th Grade

Lesson author(s):

Amanda Bolan (

Instructional Materials Needed (if applicable):

Materials: Clipboards, Writing Utensils, Wild Edible Guides, Wild Edible Scavenger Hunt Resources, Scavenger Hunt Checklist

Misc: Kitchen Equipment (Blender, utensils, bowls, etc)

Personal Devices: Chromebook/Computer, Phones/iPads

Wisconsin Standards for English Language Arts Addressed (ELA Full Document or Literacy in All Subject Areas Full Document):



Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Standards Addressed (Full Document or searchable spreadsheet):




Evidence of Need:

Informal observation of wild edible/medicinal plant identification

Formal observation of following procedural text

Informal observation of student field journal use 

Evidence of Success:

Students will demonstrate ability to identify wild edibles and label them as edible, medicinal, or poisonous and use found edibles to follow recipes for classmates.  Students will also be able to answer field journal questions related to wild edible/medicinal plants.

Inquiry Experience 1: Identifying Wild Edibles

Classroom and Natural Area (2+ hours, depending on travel time to location)

Learning Target:

I can identify wild edible and medicinal plants that are local to my community.

Formative Assessment:

Students will use the Siftr app to appropriately identify wild edible, medicinal and poisonous plants in the natural area they explore. 


Prior to this lesson, teacher should identify local natural area to explore, especially school forest if there is one local to you. Otherwise, use DNR site to identify other natural areas to explore and seek approval prior to visiting to remove plants from site. Teacher should also visit site prior to lesson to identify potential poisonous plants in the area and determine if the space is appropriate for a wild edible harvest. Teacher should also create a Siftr for this unit, or they can copy this Siftr already created for this unit. (

1. Teacher will introduce objective for the day and handout resources for wild edible identification. Students will be divided into teams for the Wild Edible Scavenger Hunt and look over recipes chosen for Part 2 in this Inquiry Experience. Students will write in their journals those plants called for in the recipe and the quantity needed. 

2. Take students to selected natural area! Model how to use the Siftr app by identifying wild edible within the location, then allow students to practice identifying one wild edible within nearby location. 

3. Students will explore area and identify wild edibles using Siftr app and edible identification handouts/guides.

4. Students will collect needed quantity of their chosen wild edible for their recipe. 

Additional: Have students use Siftr app at home in backyard/community to identify wild edible, medicinal or poisonous plants in their neighborhood.

Inquiry Experience 2: Eating Wild Edibles

Classroom/Kitchen (2+ hours)  

Learning Target:

I can follow the procedure in a recipe to create something with my wild edibles.

Formative Assessment:

Students will identify technical terminology in procedural text (recipe) by selecting the appropriate equipment needed and follow the procedures identified. 


1. Students will read through their chosen recipe, using appropriate materials called for in recipe. Students will then work as a team to create their chosen food item using their wild edibles and other ingredients. (This may take some time, so plan accordingly.)

2. Students will present their food creation and wild edible to their classmates, explaining what their wild edible is and why it works for their chosen recipe (i.e. Dandelion can make multiple food items depending on what is used)

3. Students will be directed to chose another wild edible to research to create an individual recipe for the community cookbook. 

Expansion: Use historical recipes to connect students to how early settlers of the area used the local flora and fauna to help support their nutritional needs (or maybe discovered what was not a wild edible!).

Inquiry Experience 3: Creating Community Cookbook

Classroom (1+ hours)

Learning Target:

I can create a recipe using knowledge of wild edibles from my local community. 

Formative Assessment:

Students will create a recipe for their chosen wild edible and submit it for the classroom wild edible cookbook. Students will also participate in a feedback loop to peer edit recipes using their previous recipe as a mentor text.


1. Teacher will state objective for this lesson and direct students to begin researching their chosen edible.

2. Students will use wild edible resources and personal devices to conduct research on wild edible for their recipe, noting specifically how best to use their wild edible (i.e. wood violets are garnishes, dandelion leaves for salad)

3. Students will use their former recipes from Part 2 to plan out the new recipe, and obtain peer feedback. This resource can be helpful for students who struggle in giving feedback. (Go through as many cycles as you feel appropriate for your students.)

4. Students will submit their recipe for publication as a community cookbook to be part of the classroom library.

Expansion Ideas: 

Create an outdoor cooking area and have students practice their recipes outdoors!  

Incorporate items from the school garden into their recipes!

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