Learning Outdoors

Resources from Environmental Education - 9/24/20

The SDW Environmental Education team will be sending weekly newsletters throughout the school year. Our hope is that some of the activities will support your classroom learning, inspire you to take your students outside, or spark a creative idea for you. If there are specific topics that you would like us to explore, please feel free to reach out with your ideas or suggestions! We can support you best when we know what you need!

Mud Faces Activity

EE teacher Michelle H. created this wonderful tutorial for a fun outdoor activity called Mud Faces! All you need is water, dirt, a bucket, a stirring tool, and your own creativity!
Mud Faces Activity

Science Room Spotlight

Each week, Erica Yoss (Environmental Education and Science Leader) will spotlight a different science class in the district that is doing great work with students!


This week's spotlight is Tim Melk's physics class. I am so happy that we are able to socially distance and perform labs with our students. This lab has students setting up a test, analyzing data, and drawing conclusions. Love the use of ACT skills!

Migrating Monarchs

In the fall, Monarch butterflies make an incredible journey south for their migration. Check out this wonderful resource compiled by EE teacher Lynn P. to learn more about this fascinating process.

Garden Corner

Join EE teacher Lynn P. in her home garden to learn about a tasty fall treat - ever bearing strawberries!
Garden Corner - Strawberries in Fall

If Trees Could Talk - Middle School Curriculum

The Forest History Society created an 11 module curriculum for middle school students. Here's what they say about it:

"If trees could talk and we could listen, would we be wiser? The Forest History Society believes that we must understand the history of forests and their people in order to shape the future of people and their forests. "If Trees Could Talk: A Curriculum in Environmental History" is an 11-module middle school curriculum that gives teachers the opportunity to download social studies activities that are based upon archival materials. The centerpiece of each module is a compilation of primary resources—documents, maps, newspaper articles, oral histories or photographs—from which students are asked to gather, examine, and analyze information, and synthesize insights."

The Color Yellow in Nature

EE teacher Michelle H. has been noticing more things in her environment this year. Lately, she's seen the color yellow everywhere! Check out the video below to learn some fascinating things about the color yellow.
The Color Yellow in Nature

Planetarium Corner

Each week, Lisa Swaney (the Planetarium Director) will share some fun opportunities here!


STEM anyone? This week I focused on sharing a few wonderful opportunities for your students and your classroom. Included here is a USA Science and Engineering Festival. The event is free, you have all access, offers over 100+ STEM activities, and runs September 26th - October 3rd. Another STEM opportunity that exists is through Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision. It is a Free K-12 Science Competition for Students and Teachers. It's not too late to get a team together as project submission isn’t until next February. On October 15th - 18th, Wisconsin will be holding its very own science festival. Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium plans on helping host at least 4 different space talk sessions. Make sure to register early to ensure your pick of the sessions!

Moving in Nature

Denver Public Schools and RMC Health created a resource called the Learning Landscapes Toolkit. It is packed with great activities, many of which are designed for outdoor learning. The video below demonstrates one of the activities- schoolyard yoga. Great for a stretch and brain break part way through your day!
Learning Landscapes Schoolyard Yoga

Glacier National Park Virtual Learning

Rangers at Glacier National Park are offering free, virtual presentations from November-April. You can request a program on their website. Topics include bears, mountains, and the life of a ranger.
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Outdoor Learning Spotlight

Many schools across the country are using outdoor spaces in innovate ways this year. Check out the profiles below to see how different communities are using the outdoors for learning.

Nature Kindergarten, Sussex, WI

Forest School in Michigan

Outdoor learning initiative in New York

Using the schoolyard for learning in Colorado

Innovative company creating outdoor learning systems

Outdoor learning news from Green Schoolyards

OutClass™ Introduction

In Case You Missed It!

Support for Outdoor Learning

We know that this year is asking for a lot of flexibility, patience, and perseverance! As you are being asked to take learning outdoors, the SDW EE team wants to support you!

To see detailed outdoor learning ideas, check out this slideshow.

To see a flyer that outlines our support offerings this year, check out this link.


The SDW EE team is excited to offer sit-upon kits to all SDW classrooms. A sit-upon is simply a waterproof, portable surface that offers a dry spot to sit when learning outdoors. We will deliver the materials to your school for your students to construct. The video below demonstrates the process!
Sit-Upon Demo

K-12 Resources from KEEP, LEAF, Project Learning Tree, and more!

The Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education has created lists of COVID-friendly lessons that are available through K.E.E.P (energy), LEAF (forestry), Project Learning Tree (general EE), and others. The lesson plans are sorted into categories based on grade level, learning location, and student proximity. All lessons are linked to CC and NGSS standards. If you would like to access lessons that are not available online, please reach out to Emma Koeppel at ekoeppel@waukesha.k12.wi.us to borrow a guidebook.


Green and Healthy Schools Fall Learning Series

The organization Green and Healthy Schools WI is offering a fall learning series designed for students in grades 6-12. Each week will feature a different expert speaking on a variety of topics including fermentation, flooding, energy, tree identification, and more. See below for a full list of presentation topics. Sessions are 30 minutes and alternate Tuesdays and Wednesday each week. To learn more and register, check out this link.

Science Joke of the Week

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