Learning Outdoors

Resources from Environmental Education - 11/19/20

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!

Free Climate and Energy Expo

KEEP is excited to announce a free Energy & Climate Expo. KEEP and its partners bring you resources ideal for inquiry-based, real-world, data-driven explorations for authentic and purposeful learning.

Description: Still searching for digital supplements to your energy or climate unit? Join us virtually in December to preview one or all four of these free online learning resources. We’ll start with a brief tutorial of each platform and its benefits, then allow you time to explore, ask questions, and even register your classroom. Free to Wisconsin schools, with support from KEEP and its partners. Accessible to students learning digitally in the classroom or at-home. Perfect for project-based, STEM, social studies, and/or science classrooms or green clubs.

REGISTER HERE: https://wcee.asapconnected.com/Courses.aspx?CourseGroupID=37149

The Phenology Phorum

Those Darn Squirrels!

Written by EE teacher Laureanna Raymond-Duvernell

I’ve found that people are usually one side of the fence or the other when it comes to squirrels. Me? I love them. They’re tenacious and feisty, especially given their size. Maybe it’s something I aspire to. Or maybe it’s because they’re “fuzzy little geniuses” (see book link at the end!)

When the girls were young, they attended nature preschool at the Schlitz-Audubon Nature Center. It was there that I was introduced to the idea of a “squirrel kitchen”. Beneath a copse of conifers, we would often discover pinecones nibbled down to their stems. This was the handiwork of unseen (and sometimes seen and heard) squirrels getting the seeds out from beneath the scales of the cones.

And while we can find this evidence of squirrel feeding during other times of the year, it is especially striking to find them in the fall and winter, knowing that the squirrels were storing up their reserves for the cold months.

We have plans this week to put up our squirrel twirler once again for winter entertainment (seriously, watch the link), and laughing at many other squirrel obstacle courses videos when we’re stuck inside and it’s dark. Maybe we’ll even convince Peter to help us set one up!

I’ll be reading Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri to laugh along with the grumpy old man who (besides looking like he is DEFINITELY sneezing out coronavirus) tries his hardest to outsmart those fuzzy geniuses. It’s worth sharing with your little geniuses too, in case they need some winter creative inspiration.

Exploring Energy Outdoors - Wind in the World Grades K-3

KEEP is offering a video series exploring different energy topics. They will send the videos and corresponding activities directly to your inbox! Sign-up for the video series by filling out this form. This week, check out the series about wind.


Mapping Wind in the Classroom

Wind in the World (K-3)

Exploring Energy Outdoors - Wind in the World Grades K-3

Professional Development Opportunities

Get Outside Power Hour: Teaching in Your School Forest, School Grounds, and Your Community

Get support for teaching in your place outside. In this series of chats, we will explore various topics related to outdoor education each month. We will draw on LEAF’s expertise and our network of experienced teachers to host a general Q & A, facilitate meaningful discussions, troubleshoot and share ideas amongst each other, and learn at least one hands-on activity that is easy for students to do outside or remotely. We hope to create a sounding board and idea generation place for educators to handle the emerging COVID-19 conditions.

Teaching Outdoors in Winter

Many schools have pivoted to outdoor learning as a safe alternative to being indoors- but colder temperatures don’t have to mean classes should head back inside! Hear from seasoned educators from forest preschools and outdoor learning centers as they discuss their go-to activities for keeping students warm and ready to learn! Panelists will share how they create and use outdoor spaces in the winter; provide gear recommendations; and discuss how they meet COVID-19 guidelines for safety.

EE Teacher Book Pick

Enjoy this book recommendation from EE teacher Lynn Parkhurst!

I found the book The Forever Tree quite by accident, and fell in love with the message instantly. The idea that a tree is a soulful, living thing to be protected, all at once a home to animals...a living backdrop to gatherings....a living playground for children and a living being that’s cherished by all ages is one I’ve always held. It reminds me of a tree I once loved as a child. I hope you enjoy Tereasa Surratt and Donna Lukas’ tale about a REAL elm tree in our neck of the woods, one that has a 2nd life as Tom’s Treehouse at Camp Wandawega in Elkhorn, WI.

The Forever Tree by Tereasa Surratt and Donna Lucas

Hear from the Experts - WDNR Forestry Lecture Series: Caring for Our Public Forests

LEAF and the WDNR are partnering to offer forestry talks. The next one is Caring for our Public Forests. Here is what they say about the opportunity:

"Join LEAF staff and DNR experts over your lunch-hour as we explore different topics in the world of forestry. Each online session will provide background content about the day’s scheduled forestry topic, mention career pathways for students, and allow question and answer time for participants to interact with the presenter. The public places myriad demands on our public (county, state and national) forests. Let’s explore how foresters care for our public forests to provide for social, economic and ecological needs. Learn how foresters balance multiple use management on these lands with timber harvests to meet other goals such as wildlife habitat and recreational purposes. We will focus on the management of the Flambeau River State Forest on its 90th anniversary this year!"

Investigating Home Water Use

Green and Healthy Schools WI classroom learning series continues with "Investigating Home Water Use". They use a calculator in the activity which can be found here.
Investigating Home Water Use

Waukesha Colleges Science & Engineering Fair

All secondary students are invited to participate in the Waukesha Colleges Science & Engineering Fair on February 27, 2021. The event will be fully virtual with the opportunity for students to present their projects via zoom. The virtual fair procedures are outlined at this link.

Moving in Nature

Need a brain break? Move like different animals with this fun, interactive video!
Animals In Action | Brain & Body Builders | Exercise & Fitness for Kids | Jack Hartmann

Planetarium Corner

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


NASA Space Place Art Challenge! Here is a space-related monthly art challenge for all those young creative minds. Each month a new drawing prompt will be unveiled. Background knowledge and images will be provided to furnish further inspiration. All they need is a paper, art supplies, and an adult helper who can submit their artwork. Every month a few images will be selected and displayed on the Space Place website at the beginning of the next month. Submissions can be done month after month.

NASA is taking remote learning to the Moon! Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest is yet another awe-inspiring and thrilling opportunity for your scholars. All ages and grade levels are welcomed to compete and even a writing template for drafting purposes is provided. Whether you are a formal or informal educator, there are guides that exist to help you prepare for your group’s participation.

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

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