Learning Outdoors

Resources from Environmental Education - 4/29/21

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!

Spring Curriculum and Classroom Visits

We're on the move again! This spring we are offering in-class visits for 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms with activities themed around pollination and severe weather. We will provide all of the supplies and lead a 45-60 minute program in your classroom. To learn more and sign up for a program, follow these links: 2nd grade and 3rd grade. To discuss possibilities for in-class visits with other grade levels, please email ekoeppel@waukesha.k12.wi.us

WI School Garden Day - May 20, 2021

"Thursday, May 20, 2021 is Wisconsin School Garden Day! Wisconsin is a leader in garden-based education. This day brings recognition to the people and programs giving Wisconsin’s youth access to innovative, hands-on educational opportunities.

Now, more than ever, youth garden educators are displaying resilience, innovation, and creativity as schools and programs are finding ways to continue making gardens an essential part of children’s education.

You can participate in Wisconsin School Garden Day by engaging in some type of garden-based education activity or celebration on May 20, 2021 (or another day that week).

This year, you may be celebrating virtually or in person. We encourage everyone to celebrate Wisconsin School Garden Day in a way that is safe and best fits them and/or their programs. Any activity that involves kids engaging with a garden or gardening–including, but not limited to, activities around planting, observing, art, literature, STEM, weeding, and planning–can be a way to celebrate Wisconsin School Garden Day." - WI School Garden Network

Moving in Nature

Want to celebrate WI School Garden Day but don't have a garden? Maybe you and your students can travel to an imaginary garden and practice some garden-themed yoga with this read-along book!
Rachel's Day in the Garden - A Kids Yoga Stories Audio Yoga Book for Kids

PBS Learning Media Resources

PBS Learning Media offers many rich videos and lesson plans on a variety of nature and environmental themes. Check out a few of them linked below!

Kids Can be Changemakers: Meet the Helpers (PreK-3)

Becoming Green Energy Experts (7-12)

Take Action for Nature and Your Community (6-12)

The Age of Nature (4-12)

Snowy Owl Craft

Join EE Teacher Mrs. Hughes and her friends to learn how to make a fun snowy owl craft!
Owl Craft

Planetarium Corner

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


May the 4th Be With You! Even NASA likes to have a little fun now and then. As May 4th approaches us, it is a time for Stars Wars and science fiction fans to celebrate the possibilities of life beyond our atmosphere and the excitement of space exploration. NASA assists with that task by providing several resources (science fiction and science fact) to help engage and educate those scifi fans in your classroom. Here are a few fun little activities to share. Enjoy!


Images, Videos, and Interactives

Wood Duck Houses - Spring Cleaning

Join EE teacher Mr. Tompsett as he cleans out the wood duck houses at the Fox River Sanctuary! Earth day may have passed, but there is never a bad time to help care for the earth!
Cleaning Wood Duck Houses

Phenology Phorum


written by EE teacher Laureanna Raymond-Duvernell

We moved to our current home in 2013, when the girls were two and four years old. It was a great age to be outdoors with them, exploring our new landscape.

One of my favorite early memories was walking in our small stretch of woods and discovering the plants that made their appearance each spring. A new one for me was the Mayapple.

If you haven’t seen this Wisconsin native plant, it is a surprise at each stage of its growth. A sturdy stalk sprouts up, looking like a tiny, unfurled green umbrella against the brown leaves from the past fall. Next, the leaves spread out, shading the land around them with their wide spread. Soon after, a bright white appears, tucked under the leaves - a small present waiting to be found. The flowers are fragrant and we have often stopped to watch various pollinators stop by to grab some nectar. The pollinated flowers grow the plant’s namesake: a small green fruit that looks like a tiny apple will take the place of the flower in the summer.

A word of caution as you head out to see the Mayapples in action: all parts of the plant are toxic. Unless you’re a turtle - native turtles will eat the fruit and then help to spread the seeds as they digest and travel.

While there are no books about Mayapples that I know of, there are a host of picture books about spring flowers. This week, try out “When Spring Comes” by Wisconsin author/illustrator Kevin Henkes.

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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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