Local Water Study

A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival, but you don’t have to live near a teaming ocean to show 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…

Let’s go camping!

Over the summer, all across the country families will be building a fort in their house, camping out in their backyards or area campgrounds as part of the Great American Campout! Explore the wonderful world of camping with young children either as a family or in your classroom. For families: Join the Great American Campout … 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…

Hiding in Plain Sight

Children play a game of hide and seek to learn about important adaptations in many wild animals. One adaptation that many animals have is some type of camouflage that helps them survive in their surroundings. The environment that an animal lives in is often the most important factor to what the camouflage looks like and … Read more…

Show me the energy!

Ask children if they have eaten any sunshine today. You’ll probably get giggles and “nos.” 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…

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…

Ways to Get Outside in the Winter

Cold temperatures and snow make it more of a challenge to get kids outside. Getting outside during the winter months can be well worth the effort. Remember to dress yourself in layers to set a good example for you students and children. Help your students learn that there is no such thing as bad weather … 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…

Owl Pellets Tell Stories

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…

Habitat – Oh Deer!

All plants and animals – whether wild or domestic – need certain ‘things’ to survive. Every living thing has its own unique basic needs of food, water, shelter, space, and all in a specific arrangement. Habitat is the combination of the necessary food, water, shelter, and space. Have you ever wondered why you see certain … Read more…

Let’s learn about grasshoppers

In a Grasshopper’s World For this activity you will explore the fascinating world of grasshoppers with young children! Grasshoppers are insects. They have six legs, two of which are long and muscular and used for hopping. Grasshoppers have three main body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. They also have two antennae. Begin by asking children if … Read more…

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…

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…

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…

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…