April 2023

Goats Eat Poison Ivy

Academic Standards



Reading Objective:

Children will learn to identify poison ivy and recognize that while it gives many people a rash, animals can eat and remove it safely


Reading Level:

Lexile: 510L; GRL: L


Next Generation Science Standards:

2-LS2-1: Plant Needs



rash, substance, harsh, identify

Use these questions to check students’ understanding and stimulate discussion:


1.  What did the park do to get rid of its poison ivy?
(The park brought in goats to eat the plant.)

2. Did the goats get a rash from the poison ivy?

3. What is urushiol [yu-ROO-shee-ol]?
(The substance in poison ivy that often causes an itchy rash.)

4. How can you identify poison ivy?
(Look for three leaves; leaf edges are smooth or chunky.)

Go online to print or project the Reading Checkpoint.


  • You can’t catch a poison ivy rash from another person’s rash.


  • The rash can break out gradually on your body. The parts of your body that are most sensitive to urushiol will probably break out first. Less sensitive areas can break out later.


  • The poison ivy plant grows berries that get ripe and bright. Migrating birds can spot and eat them.

Materials: large jar, spray bottle of water, paper towels, bean or pea seeds, pencils, copies of the skill sheet

Overview: Kids observe and record seed germination in a clear jar. Use one jar for the entire class, or give groups of kids their own.


  1. BEFORE the lesson: For quickest results, soak 4-6 seeds overnight in warm water.
  2. To start the lesson, remind students that while poison ivy can be an annoying plant, it has needs like any other! Today they’ll be working with safer bean or pea seeds,  helping them germinate, or begin to grow.
  3. Start by folding paper towels to line the jar. Kids can help. Next, crumple up more paper towels to fill the inside of the jar.
  4. Slide a pre-soaked seed between the inside of the jar and the paper towels. Add others, spacing them around the jar.
  5. Spray the inside so it’s soaked but not dripping.
  6. Put the jar in sunlight. Re-moisten as needed. Every few days, observe the seeds and record results on the skill sheets.