Learning Outdoors

Resources from Environmental Education - 11/5/20

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!

Poem of the Day

We will be featuring seasonal poems from the book "Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year" illustrated by Fran Preston-Gannon and selected by Fiona Waters. This week, enjoy the poem "What Happens to the Colors?" by Jack Prelutsky and read by EE teacher Lynn Parkhurst.
Poem of the Day: What Happens to the Colors?

Scattering Seeds

Last week a couple of EE team members spread seeds in our butterfly garden. Many native WI flower seeds won't germinate until they have been exposed to the cold temperatures of the winter season. That is why spreading seeds in the fall is a great way to give your gardens a head start for the spring season!
Seed Spreading

Phenology Pholder

Last Leaves

Written by EE teacher Laureanna Raymond-Duvernell

In a staff meeting this week, one of my coworkers mentioned the trees that he noticed were still hanging on to their leaves, even after the impressive winds we had this past weekend. (So much wind. Seriously.)

His comments were timely! I updated this post because the last leaves on the trees are something we notice too. We all know it’s coming, but the stark difference between the kaleidoscope of fall and the barrenness of winter is sometimes jarring.

However, the leaves blowing around on the ground and those last few trees that never seem to give up their leaves still keep me firmly grounded in fall. I love the idea of trees not wanting to let go either. Transitions are hard, even when we know deep down that their tough times aren’t going to last forever.

Take a walk this week and take stock of the trees who are still hanging on. What kind of tree is it? Does it do this every year? Why might it be different from its neighbors? If we project human emotions onto the tree, how do we think it would it be feeling?

A fitting book to pair with this idea is The Very Last Leaf by Stef Wade. It’s a new book from a local Wisconsin author, and it takes the story of a leaf at the end of the season and dives deeper into the anxiety that comes with facing our fears.

Enjoy the leaves as they continue to fall!

Minecraft in Nature Scavenger Hunt

Have you ever played the video game minecraft? Did you know that almost all of the items in minecraft can be found in nature? EE teacher Mrs. Hughes wanted to create this scavenger hunt for her friends who love minecraft and outdoor adventures. Check out her video below to learn how you can participate!

If you're able to, you can download the worksheet that is linked here or in the video description. A tutorial for utilizing the worksheet is also in the video. Happy hunting!

Minecraft in Nature Scavenger Hunt

Snapshot WI - Camera Check

The SDW EE team has a trail camera through the Snapshot WI program. This is a program through the WI DNR where volunteers install and manage trail cameras across the state to help the DNR collect data on wildlife populations. In this video we demonstrate what a "camera check" entails! Stay tuned next week for some photos of animals we have seen on our trail camera!
Snapshot WI Camera Check

Seven Dimensions of Wellness

The WI Center for Environmental Education (WCEE) is highlighting the seven dimensions of wellness this year by featuring reflections from teachers across the state. This week they shared reflections on Emotional Wellness by Trish Kilpin.

Submitted by Trish Kilpin, School Social Worker,

Greendale School District, 2021 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year

Isolation, contact restrictions, changes in home and school routines, access limitation to community supports, and other pandemic-related stressors have changed the way schools and families function. In this time of disruption, educators need to provide universal supports to prioritize emotional health for our students, families and ourselves.

We are all experiencing trauma. During and after traumatic events, disaster survivors experience a broad range of initial reactions and the potential for long term, enduring stress reactions. Some of us, those who are already disadvantaged and marginalized, are impacted at a disproportionately high rate. Our goal is to create trauma informed schools where children, staff and caregivers recognize and respond to the impact of traumatic stress positively. We can mitigate the effects of trauma, and proactively build the capacity of our students to overcome future challenges, by prioritizing safety, connection, and emotional management skills. These actions will foster hope and an understanding that we can get through hard times and that things will get better.

For students to learn, we must meet their social emotional learning needs. Social and emotional learning is the process where children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions (CASEL). Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills change over time, based on our experiences, and can be taught.

Emotional Wellness and Environmental Education

It is known that time spent outdoors has positive benefits (Gill, 2014) and develops skills such as teamwork and leadership, but imagine the positive outcome opportunities by integrating social-emotional learning processes to the field of environmental education.

Ruth Wilson, said it best in an article addressing the blending of early childhood education, environmental education, and social-emotional learning, “the making of beautiful people – that is people who live with a sense of wonder, sensitivity to beauty, respect and compassion for others, a deep appreciation of the natural world, and an interest in creating a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world”

Moving in Nature

Need a brain break? Em Morrison from Mindful Schools offers some great ideas for simple movements that can be done anywhere, indoors or outdoors. She also speaks to making sure that students have choice and adaptations if they don't feel comfortable with any of the movements, and to the importance of centering these practices around student empowerment. Enjoy!
5 Mindful Movement Practices for Youth

Spider Activity Pack

Check out this fun bunch of activities about spiders from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources!
Big picture

Planetarium Corner

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


I couldn’t help myself as I felt like I needed to pass this unique opportunity onto our Waukesha Scholars. Are they interested in being a NASA Engineer, Astronaut, Astrobiologist, Education Program Specialist, or Rocket Scientist? Just make a short little video about why and submit by November 27th to have a potential part in this new full dome planetarium show.

Fiske Planetarium is producing a fulldome film on NASA’s efforts to head Forward! To the Moon. Last week, we shared the short film version with you. Now, we'd like to invite your visitors to be a part of the full-length fulldome production which will be released in late Summer 2021.

This new fulldome film about the NASA Artemis program will take the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024! This film will tell the story of plans for the first three Artemis missions and beyond. It's an exciting time as we move forward to the moon, this time to stay, and prepare for deep space exploration.

Here’s where you come in...as part of the Artemis Generation, NASA, Lockheed Martin, and many other space industry businesses are going to need the help of talented young minds. If you know a student between 6th grade and college-age, ask them to join the project and submit a video about what excites THEM about space exploration. Whether they want to be an astronaut, or help create the powerful rockets for deep space exploration, we want to hear about it.

To do this, we are using a platform called Cinebody, where you can record a video clip with your phone that might make it in the film! Here’s how it works…

  • Step 1: Download the app, create an account, and join our project. (Cinebody is an iPhone app, but don’t worry if you have an Android - see instructions on how to submit your video. If you already have Cinebody, you can also find our project by typing in the code “lunar” within Cinebody.)
  • Step 2: View the example video and shot instructions.
  • Step 3: Record your video.

Using the Cinebody app, the video will be automatically uploaded to the platform for our review! A few suggestions for filming:

  • Find a quiet place (so we can HEAR you) with good light (so we can SEE you).

  • Set your phone up on something instead of holding it.

  • Relax and have fun!

Please submit the video by November 27th for consideration in the film. Those selected will receive special film merchandise and more! The film is supported by NASA and Lockheed Martin, the builder of the Orion spacecraft that will carry the astronauts. Forward! To the Moon is narrated by Kari Byron, current host of Crash Test World, and former co-host of Mythbusters. Happy filming!

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.

Science Joke of the Week

Big picture