Learning Outdoors

Resources from Environmental Education - 10/1/20

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!

Leaf Man - Read Aloud and Activity

Help! Leaf Man was carried by the wind and is hiding in our diorama room at E.B. Shurts! Can you watch the video below and help us find him?

But first, EE teacher Mrs. Keber reads the story "Leaf Man" by Lois Ehlert and then describes how to create your own leaf person sculpture. The fall season is the perfect time to find leaves and other natural materials outside for art projects!

We'd love to see photos of your own leaf person creations!

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert - Read Aloud and Activity

Meet the Critters Series

As part of our efforts to digitize our EE programs this summer, we created a "Meet the Critters" series to help learners interact with the live animals that we have at E.B. Shurts. This video highlights two of our snakes, Flame and Matrix.
Meet the Critters - Flame and Matrix

EE Teacher Spotlight

One of our EE teachers, Laureanna Raymond-Duvernell has recently written a book! "Under in the Mud" brings readers into the lives of ten different animals as they survive winter's cold temperatures. You can learn more about her book by visiting this website or watching the trailer below! We can't wait to add her book to our EE library!
Under in the Mud Trailer

Journey Sticks

EE teacher Mrs. Hughes is back with her friends this week for another great outdoor activity: making Journey Sticks! Join them on their adventure to learn all about this wonderful way to tell a story and collect memories.
Journey Sticks Activity

ISP Covid-19 Curriculum

The Institute for School Partnership (ISP) at Washington University in St. Louis has created a middle school curriculum about COVID-19. Here is what they say about it:

"The free unit boasts both synchronous and asynchronous elements and helps students understand the history of infectious disease, the nature of COVID-19, the power and limitations of modeling and the importance of scientific literacy."

“This unit gives educators the opportunity to open the curtain and show learners how science works,” said Heather Milo, the ISP instructional specialist who developed the curriculum. “We didn’t want to give students answers to just memorize. Rather, students engage in scientific habits of thought, like how to obtain and evaluate information; how to use models to explain phenomena; and how to communicate useful and evidence-based information.” "

Earth Cubs

Need some ideas for at-home learning or outdoor activities that can be done at school? Check out this resource called Earth Cubs for many fabulous ideas!
What is Earth Cubs?

Back Pocket Learning

Check out Back Pocket Learning for some great outdoor activities and crafts!

Planetarium Corner

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


Photography anyone? Do you want to see what the Hubble Space Telescope saw on your birthday? Here is how you can find out your birthday image. I know my own kids liked checking out what their birthday image was. Attached is the image that the Hubble saw on my actual wedding date and year….. So cool!

February 29th, 2004 - SWEEPS Star Field

Hubble peered into the crowded central bulge of our galaxy 26,000 light-years away and collected information for 180,000 stars as part of a survey called the Sagittarius Window Eclipsing Extrasolar Planet Search (SWEEPS).

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Moon Activities

In honor of the full moon today, here are some activities about the moon from The University of Alaska Museum of the North. You could make your own moon phase calculator!

Woolly Bear Caterpillars

EE teacher Mrs. Parkhurst explores a common sight found in the fall: Woolly Bear Caterpillars! Check out her video below to learn something new about these cute little creatures.
Wooly Bear Caterpillars

Moving in Nature

Do the Nature Dance! It's been a little chilly outside this week, but you can still move "like" nature by dancing along to this fun song!

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

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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