Learning Outdoors

Resources from Environmental Education - 9/10/20

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!
Parka's Poem about Nature

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! Check out the video below to learn how we can help.

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.

Teaching Outdoors


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

Learning Outdoors - Phenology

Phenology, or observing seasonal changes in the environment, is something that all students grades K-12 can participate in. It could be integrated into a reading or writing lesson, or simply something that you guide students in noticing as you walk outside for a minute or two. The observations can be simple: Do the trees have leaves today? Do you notice any flowers? Or more complex: Are there seed pods on the trees? Are the leaves changing color?

One goal of phenology is "Getting kids to see things that they have seen every day, but have never seen before. Because when they start to see those things, they can't ever unsee them again."

The video below highlights a high school classroom that is studying phenology, and this website outlines resources for K-4 teachers. Want to start with trees? Check out these Tree Identification Tools.

Citizen Science in the Classroom: Phenology

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.


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H.O.M.E.School Lessons

The Alliance for the Great Lakes created eight lessons to help teachers during this time of uncertainty. Here's what they shared:

"The Alliance for the Great Lakes is happy to announce H.O.M.E.School, a new series of online lessons about the Great Lakes for kids in grades K-8. Each lesson explores a different topic with a quick video from our education manager Katie Larson. After the “classroom” portion, students can apply their knowledge with a fun, hands-on activity they can do at home. For educators and those who want to learn more, we offer resources to dig in deeper on the topic with links to other lessons and activities. Topics include maps, the water cycle, habitats, food webs, boats, plastic pollution, and more."

Click on the topic links above to learn more!

Introducing H.O.M.E.School

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.
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Videos from SDW EE

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 three of our salamander friends, Arrow, Speckle, and Twin.
Meet the Critters - The Salamander Triplets

Moving in Nature

A great way to get outside and get moving is by creating an obstacle course with chalk! Check out the video below to see the many creative ideas that this group of kids brings to their design. You could also create an obstacle course with items from inside of your home or school like blocks, shoes, chairs, or anything! Or maybe you could also find items in nature to use, like sticks, rocks, or dried leaves. The possibilities are endless!

Virtual Nature School

There are many great resources online for outdoor learning. One resource that recently caught our attention is Virtual Nature School! This YouTube channel is a collaboration between an organization called Living Classrooms and the Scottish Government. Their aim is to "offer daily inspiration for children to interact with nature - inside, outside and beyond." You can watch one of their many videos below, or learn more by checking out their website.

Finding Feathers (Bones and Big Teeth Session 3 of 5)


The fall may be quickly approaching but that doesn't mean that you can't gather ideas for next year's garden! This article features a DIY watering system using a plastic water bottle. This system delivers water to the plant only when the soil is dry, which takes the guess work out knowing when to water!
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Science Joke of the Week

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