Back to School with Nature

It is that time of year again – back to school time! As children are picking out new backpacks and sneakers, teachers are preparing themselves and their classrooms for another year filled with growing and learning. This year, as you are preparing your classroom, try to incorporate nature into the overall design and layout of … Read more…

It’s time to go fishing!

Here fishy-fishy! Begin by asking children if they have ever gone fishing? Where did they go and what did they do? What do people use to catch fish?  Where do fish live? Have they ever eaten fish? Create a mock fishing lake for children to go fishing in the classroom. Create paper or cardboard fish. … Read more…

Wiggling Worms!

Explore the fascinating world of worms! “Earthworm” is a general term used to describe many different species of worms that live in the soil. While they do not have an obvious head or tail you can identify the head by which way the worm crawls. Did you know that worms absorb oxygen through their skin? … Read more…

Less is More

Our Earth is home to over six and a half billion people and millions of species of plants and animals. All living things have the same basic needs for survival; food, water, shelter and space. Earth provides all of the materials to meet our needs through natural resources. Natural resources are sources of life, materials, … Read more…

Grow As We Go

All living things grow and change in their lifetime.  Some animals, people included, start life looking the same as or very similar to adults. Other animals look very different from the adults when they are young and change significantly over the course of their lifetime. Frogs and butterflies are examples of animals that change, or … Read more…

School Gardens

Why a school garden? Why garden? School gardens provide hands-on learning in a wide variety of disciplines including science, math, language arts, and visual arts. Being involved in school gardens get children active, engaged, and teaches them important life skills such as responsibility. School gardens also positively influences students’ health and nutrition attitudes and actions. … Read more…

Tracks!

Winter is a great time to go looking for wildlife! Most animals like to hide and can be difficult to observe. Luckily, they often leave clues about themselves behind that we can find. One of the easiest clues to find are footprints or tracks. By finding and observing animal tracks you can learn a lot … Read more…

Backbone Bonanza

Animals with an internal skeleton made of bone are called vertebrates. There are over 85,000 vertebrate species, all classified into five groups: fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The defining characteristic of all vertebrates is the backbone. The backbone extends through the core of the body and allows a vertebrate to hold its shape. The … Read more…

Let’s Talk Turkey

Thanksgiving is coming up, and as everyone knows we often refer to this day of giving thanks as “Turkey Day.” This year before “Turkey Day,” gather your students or children and talk about turkeys! Ask children if they have ever seen a turkey. Where was it? What did it look like? Talk about what turkeys … Read more…

Spiders and other “creepy” animals

Many of the symbols of Halloween are animals – creepy, crawly spiders, swooping bats, owls in trees, and crows on rooftops. These animals aren’t inherently scary and they most certainly aren’t evil! Let’s explore some truths about these “Halloween” animals! As you learn about each “spooky” animal ask children what they know about that animal … Read more…

Spider Web Wonders

Spiders are a very common form of wildlife. They are found in a wide variety of habitats as well as inside most buildings, even our homes. In fact, if you did a quick search of where you are sitting right now chances are you could probably find a spider somewhere close by. There are more … Read more…

Ants on Parade

It’s time to explore the fascinating world of ants! Did you know there are more than 12,000 species of ants in the world? They live on almost every landmass on Earth except Antarctica and a few small islands. Ants live in complex social groups called colonies. They have a four stage life cycle consisting of … Read more…

Wildlife Water Safari

Take your children on a wildlife water safari this month! By definition, animals that are not tame or domesticated are considered wildlife. A habitat is the place or “neighborhood” where an animal lives.  A suitable neighborhood must have food, water, shelter, and space in order for an animal to survive there. On your wildlife water … Read more…

The Deep Blue Sea

A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival, but you don’t have to live near a teaming ocean to demonstrate how important all water is for every living thing. Help your children get their feet wet on a local level with a pond study. When children use a hand lens or magnifying glass to … Read more…

Hiding in Plain Sight

Children play a game of hide and seek to learn about important adaptations in many wild animals. Use animal toys and hide two animals, one where it blends in and one where it stands out. Have children look for them. Which is easier to find? Why? Introduce the word camouflage and have the children come … Read more…

First Impressions

How do you feel about bats? Do you find them scary or weird? What about spiders? Do they give you the “creepy crawlies?” People often have misconceptions about wildlife based on inaccurate stereotypes. While bats, spiders, and other “scary” wildlife may not be cute and cuddly, they are important contributors to healthy ecosystems. Scary doesn’t … Read more…

Let’s plan a Field Study!

A field study plot is an area set aside for making observations over time. By observing a particular plot of ground, scientists can learn about how the plants in the plot grow, what animals use those plants, and other valuable information about the area. In a small field study plot the most common animals you … Read more…

Let’s learn about water

Every molecule of water that was present when the Earth’s oceans were formed millions of years ago is still present today. That means the water you drink is the same water the dinosaurs drank!  All living things need water: plants, animals and people. Water is important to us for many purposes such as drinking, bathing, … Read more…

Bird Beak Buffet

All birds have beaks that they use for grasping and eating food. Bird beaks come in all shapes and sizes which enable them to eat certain kinds of foods. Seed and nut eaters usually have short, thick beaks for cracking open seeds. Nectar feeders have long slender beaks for reaching into flowers. Other birds have … Read more…

Wildlife is Everywhere!

Wildlife is everywhere – on land, in soil, in water, and in the air. Wildlife scientists study wildlife to learn how they live and interact with the environment. These scientists may focus on one wildlife species or a group of species during their studies. They record observations made with their senses and other tools. Being … Read more…

Seeds!

Fall is the perfect time of year to explore the wonder of plant seeds! That means it’s time to go on a “seed walk!” Take children on a walk around the schoolyard or your local park to collect seeds from grasses, plants, and trees. Ideas to help you collect seeds include putting a tube sock … Read more…

Who lives in a tree?

Fall is a perfect time to explore where the squirrels and birds live within the tree branches.  Ask the children to describe their homes. What materials make up your house? What rooms do you have in your house? What do you do in your house? Where do you eat and sleep? Do you have a … Read more…

Lunch for a coyote

The Growing Up WILD activity “Lunch for a Bear” has been adapted to Iowa’s largest resident omnivore, the coyote. Omnivores are the most flexible eaters of the animal kingdom. They eat both plants and animals, and many times what they eat depends on where they live and what is available at certain times of the … Read more…

Let’s go camping!

On June 22, 2019 all across the country families will be camping out in their backyards as part of the Great American Campout! Explore the wonderful world of camping with young children either as a family or in your classroom. Check out the resources on this page for tips and tricks. For families: Join the … Read more…

What is a “Sense of Place”?

A “sense of place” refers to a child’s connection with their community and natural environment.  A sense of place is developed with a place-based education approach that fosters those connections. Place-based education immerses children in their local community, landscapes, heritage, and experiences. It is using the local natural and human world to learn science, social … Read more…

Looking at Leaves

Fall is a great time to investigate leaves! They crunch underfoot and amaze us with their transforming colors. Leaves come in many different shapes, sizes and in the fall, colors! Begin by holding up a leaf and asking the children what it is and where it came from. Pass the leaf around and ask what … Read more…

What’s Wild?

It’s time to explore the difference between wild and domesticated animals! Animals that are wild are called wildlife. Wild animals are animals that take care of themselves without depending on people. This means that they get their food, water and everything they need to survive on their own from the environment. Domestic animals are animals … Read more…

Oh Deer!

A habitat is the place or “neighborhood” where an animal lives.  A suitable neighborhood must have food, water, shelter, and space in order to survive there. While each kind of animal has specific requirements for suitable types or amounts of these four things, all animals need all of them to survive. A habitat can exist … Read more…

Animal Mothers and Babies

Mother’s Day was last weekend and spring is a wonderful time of year to celebrate mothers! During spring nature is bursting with new life. Animal mothers and babies can be found in field, forest, and stream. Let’s explore animal mothers and babies in celebration of mothers this week! In the classroom, ask children if they … Read more…

Show Me the Energy!

Ask children if they have eaten any sunshine today.  You’ll probably get giggles and “no’s”.  Share various food items, such as apples, whole-grain bagels and orange juice with your children.  As they are enjoying this snack, let them know that the food we eat contains energy that helps our bodies move, grow, and live. This … Read more…

Aqua Charades

Every molecule of water that was present when the Earth’s oceans were formed millions of years ago is still present today.  That means the water you drink is the same water dinosaurs drank!  All living things need water: plants, animals and people. Water is important to us for many purposes such as drinking, bathing and … Read more…

Wildlife as Symbols

The animal symbol is one of the most prevalent images in myths, traditions, and religious cultures worldwide. Many cultures through the ages have regarded specific animals as representing power, the supernatural, and a way to express ideas and feelings. Most countries also have wildlife incorporated as their national symbol. For example, the bald eagle is … Read more…

Wildlife is Everywhere!

Wildlife is everywhere – on land, in soil, in water, and in the air. Wildlife scientists study wildlife to learn how they live and interact with the environment. These scientists may focus on one wildlife species or a group of species during their studies. They record observations made with their senses and other tools. Help … Read more…

Owl Pellets

An owl pellet is a dense mass of indigestible food that an owl coughs up after digesting a meal. Owls are predators and eat small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Owl pellets may contain bones, fur, and feathers. They offer a wonderful look at what owls in general eat as well as an intimate look at … Read more…

Let’s Go Camping

On June 24, 2017 all across the country families will be camping out in their backyards as part of the Great American Backyard Campout! Explore the wonderful world of camping with young children either as a family or in your classroom. For families: Join the Great American Backyard Campout on June 24th and pitch a … Read more…

Field Study Fun

A field study plot is an area set aside for making observations over time. By observing a particular plot of ground, scientists can learn about how the plants in the plot grow, what animals use those plants, and other valuable information about the area. In a small field study plot the most common animals you … Read more…

Bird Beak Buffet

All birds have beaks that they use for grasping and eating food. Bird beaks come in all shapes and sizes which enable them to eat certain kinds of foods. Seed and nut eaters usually have short, thick beaks for cracking open seeds. Nectar feeders have long slender beaks for reaching into flowers. Other birds have … Read more…

First Day Hikes

Kick off the new year with a winter hike in an Iowa State Park! The Iowa DNR State Parks will sponsor free, guided hikes, led by staff and volunteers, in many state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states. America’s State Parks First … Read more…