Learning Outdoors

Resources from Environmental Education - 3/11/21

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!

Phenology Phorum

Chickadee’s Spring Song

written by EE teacher Laureanna Raymond-Duvernell

Many of us know the song of the chickdee: “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee. Chick-a-dee-dee-dee” But did you know that chickadees also have one of the most recognizable songs to get us ready for spring?

Male chickadees start their spring song when there’s still snow on the ground, but they have their minds set on the spring mating season. Listen for the two-tone whistle ringing on a cold winter morning. “Spring’s here!” it seems to say.

Chickadees use this song to set up their territorial boundaries for their nesting sites. It’s fun to mimic their calls to see if you can attract one closer to you.

As our snow melts, the days lengthen and we spend more time outdoors, listen for the “Spring’s here!” call of the chickadee.

Pair this experience with the book That Chickadee Feeling by Frank Grew. It’s a great tale about getting up close and personal with chickadees in your neighborhood!

Leave the Leaves!

Does Spring fever leave you tempted to clean out your gardens and landscape? Please wait! By leaving last year's leaves and growth on the ground until temperatures consistently are around 50 degrees benefits our pollinators! Bees, butterflies and other insects overwinter in dead stems and plants and removing them too early removes the hibernating insects, too! Read more here!

Story Edventures: Fish Hotel by Lynn Markham

Welcome to Story Edventures! Fish Hotel by Lynn Markham takes you on an aquatic edventure to the underwater world of Wisconsin lakes and rivers. In this book, you will learn along with the main characters, cousins Tessa and Hugo, about the importance of fish habitat and how to create it. Fish enthusiasts and water explorers will be drawn to this edventure by the mystery of this underwater world.

Register here to recieve zoom link. You may need to create a free Field Edventures account in order to register!

Nature Inspired Memory Match Game

As the temperatures warm, the possibility of getting outside feels enticing! This Memory Match Game from the Mohonk Preserve is a great activity for young students. You can take a walk outside to collect the items (make sure you have two of each) and then mix them up to play the game! Don't have a muffin tin? Just play on a table top by making a grid with the items.
Nature Inspired Memory Match Game | "Nature Nugget" Activity

Mud Faces Activity

What is one thing that is very abundant in March in Wisconsin? MUD! We're bringing back a video from our collection, created by EE teacher Michelle Hughes. She and her friends explore making Mud Faces on trees. A great activity for these warm spring days!
Mud Faces Activity

Moving in Nature - Flower Breath

Join EE teacher Emma Koeppel for a mindful movement activity called the Flower Breath. This is a great one to use as a quick moment of grounding in your day or if you want to think spring!
Mindful Movement - Flower Breath

How Birds Get Oxygen Inside Their Eggs

As spring approaches many birds are preparing their nests. Soon, they will be laying eggs and awaiting the arrival of their new chicks. Check out this fascinating video from NPR that explains how birds get oxygen inside of their eggs!
How Birds Get Oxygen Inside Their Eggs

Dissecting and Owl Pellet - Virtually!

Kid Wings is a fantastic online resource for learning about raptors, wolves, bears, and more! Today we're featuring their virtual owl pellet dissection activity! This is a great way for students to explore the eating habits of owls, while also noticing the bone structures of small mammals. Kid Wings has two versions of the dissection activity, one that is structured as a narrated game with Sherlock Bones, and one that is simply the activity.

To learn more about Barn Owls and their habitats, check out the video below or visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's page about Barn Owls.

Barn Owls: Home Sweet Home

Barred Owl - Live Cam

Want even more owl content? Check out this live cam of a Barred Owl nest from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Learn more about this species and how it differs from a Barn Owl here.
Watch Live Barred Owls! Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl Cam | Cornell Lab

Planetarium Corner

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


Who doesn’t like a little Pie ( or I mean π) once and awhile, especially on March 14th?

Here are a plethora of Π space-related activities to try in your math or science class in honor of PI Day!

All of the lessons and educator guides can be found HERE! We’ll also list a sampling below.

How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need?

18 Ways NASA Uses Pi

Find your name in pi!

Habitable Hunt: A 'Pi in the Sky' Math Challenge

Mars Maneuver: A 'Pi in the Sky' Math Challenge

Mars, still? Of Course, yes!

Now that we have landed the Rover on Mars. What is next, you may ask? You can follow along with the rover as it travels. Also, see what the rover sees as the raw images come down, and hear what it hears with its microphones. There are many other resources, like playing with the 3D models of the rover and helicopter (you'll need to install the free software Blender to open those .blend files).

Snow Mold

What is in my lawn?

Snow mold is found in areas that experience extended periods of snow cover. In early Spring, the overcast, rainy conditions cause this fungus to thrive on wet, unfrozen soil. The mold is usually concentrated in circles, although yards may have many of these patches - sometimes to the point at which it becomes hard to differentiate between different circles. Snow mold comes in two varieties: pink or gray. So what do I do? The mold can damage grasses and trigger allergies in humans, so gently rake the affected areas to loosen any matted grass to help the lawn dry and give unaffected grass room to grow.


It may be getting colder but that doesn't mean that learning can't happen outdoors! We are still offering sit-upon kits for classrooms. These are cushioned, waterproof spots where students can take a seat during outdoor learning. If you are interested in requesting them for your classroom, email Emma Koeppel at ekoeppel@waukesha.k12.wi.us

Support for Outdoor Learning

The SDW EE program wants to support you in bringing student learning outdoors! Access our full flyer for more information, including who to contact with questions or ideas.
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Science Joke of the Week

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