Learning Outdoors

Resources from Environmental Education - 7/16/20

The SDW Environmental Education team will be sending bi-weekly newsletters throughout the summer months. Our hope is that some of the activities will inspire your family to spend time outdoors playing, exploring and having fun! Feel free to share your adventures with us on our social media pages!

Egg Carton Scavenger Hunt

Wondering what you can do with old egg cartons? You could create your own scavenger hunt treasure chest! Before you go outside, write down 12 things that you hope to find on the top of the egg carton, and then challenge yourself to fill it with those items.

Another fun idea is to find things that are opposites (smooth vs. rough, squishy vs. hard, big vs. small) and place them next to each other in the egg carton. Then, write the describing words on the bottom and trade egg cartons with a friend. Don't let them see your words! Your friend can try to guess what describing words you used for each pair of items.

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Dragonfly Nymphs

EE Teacher Lynn P. shares some information about Dragonfly Nymphs!

Summertime brings all kinds of insects to our backyards that, in many ways, mark the sunny warm season! Think butterflies…mosquitos…..fireflies…..and the airplane-like insect zooming through the sky - dragonflies! Caterpillars turn into butterflies, but what is a dragonfly before it’s a dragonfly? If you don’t already know, let’s find out!

Dragonfly larvae (or nymphs) require water to survive, so female adults will search for water habitats such as ponds, streams and swamps to lay their eggs. The eggs are laid directly into or close to water. Once hatched, the larvae have an aquatic lifestyle very different from their parents. Some cling onto water plants floating on the water surface, some lay camouflaged among leaves at the bottom, and some find protection in beds of streams. No matter what type of water habitats they live in, the water must be clean and unpolluted for them to survive.

Depending on the species, a dragonfly larva goes through 10 to 12 rounds of moulting, or shedding their skin while growing. Larva will grow faster or slower dependent on factors like food availability, habitats and climate.

Once ready to emerge into adult dragonflies, the larvae will climb out of the water, perhaps onto a water plant or half-submerged twig. At this point they will begin breathing air, rather than getting oxygen through the water as they’ve done up until this point. Slowly, adult dragonflies will emerge by unfolding from the larva shell through cracks in the exoskeleton. (The process is similar to how a butterfly emerges from a caterpillar pupa.) After a few hours to let its abdomen expand and wings harden, the adult dragonfly is formed and ready for flight. Once the adult flies away, all that is left is the empty skin hanging onto the water plant.

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Below are photos of two different kinds of skin left behind as the dragonfly hatched from nymph stage into an adult. The larger ones were found on the lake shore amongst grasses, while the smaller skins were clustered together under a stationary kayak. The red arrows point to the opening out of which the adults emerged; it's simply a crack in the hardened skin.

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Moving in Nature

One way to get your body moving is to imitate different animals that you might find in nature! This video highlights 10 different movements that you can try inside or outside.
Animal Exercises For Kids

Nature Writing

Writing can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors! You can use your five senses to observe nature from your window, at a park, or in your backyard. After you've noticed something interesting, you can put it into writing! Here are a few ideas:


Haiku Poem - these are short poems that have 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line, and 5 syllables in the third line. For example:

My window is big

I see a bird in a tree

And also a cat


Acrostic Poem - first you pick a word and write it vertically. Then find a word or phrase that starts with each letter to make your poem. For example:

Tall and majestic

Really useful

Ever changing

Enjoyed by people


I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of - When you are looking out your window or exploring your neighborhood park, find one thing that looks interesting to you. Write about what you notice about that thing, what you wonder about it, and what it reminds you of.


Free Writing - if structures aren't appealing, you could simply find a scratch piece of paper and write anything you noticed about nature!


We'd love it if you shared your writing creations with us either on our social media pages or via e-mail (all of this info can be found on the bottom of the newsletter)!

National Geographic Kids - Quizzes and Games

The National Geographic Kids website has some fun quizzes and games available - many of them related to nature and the outdoors!

Check out this one called the Weird Nature Quiz and use this link to access the whole collection!

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Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Looking for a fun, family-friendly activity to do outdoors this summer? We've got just the thing! A virtual scavenger hunt!

Here are the general guidelines:

-Stay close to home

-Take a picture and post your findings on Twitter and/or Facebook

-Tag us on Facebook (@SDWEnvironmentalEducation) or Twitter (@SDWEnvED)

-Use the hashtag #ExploreWithSDWEE

-Receive points for your findings

For more info and the list of items to search for, check out this LINK. The winner will be announced on August 25th! Happy hunting!

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Adopt a Storm Drain

Another great way to get outside AND make a difference in the community would be by participating in our new program! Here's a snippet from the flyer:

"Helping to protect our watershed is an important part of taking care of our environment. With this in mind, we are launching a new program to help make the Fox River a cleaner body of water. We are hoping that in the days, weeks, and years to come that you will Adopt a Storm Drain in the city of Waukesha to help."

For the full details about this program - check out this link.

Science Joke of the Week

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