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  • Writer's pictureSharon Fisher

Outdoor Learning

Resources for Family-Based Outdoor Learning

The challenges of COVID-19 require parents to become more involved in augmenting their children’s education. Research studies have found that children need outdoor learning adventures to provide a much-needed boost to their social, emotional, and mental well-being. Below are resources for fostering learning about our natural world.

Audubon for Kids!

This site offers activities from across Audubon’s national network of environmental educators, including the classroom curriculum Audubon Adventures, plus related activities and content from Audubon’s editors. These activities can be done at home or in a yard or park, sometimes with the help of a computer. The goal is not to teach a child how to name and identify bird species, but rather to give them space to explore and feel connected to the natural world. You do not need to worry about your own knowledge of birds or plants. All you need to be is a companion to your child’s curiosity.

Cornell K-12 Lessons Open Doors for Kids to Explore Nature and Science

Fostering a love of birds can ignite a child’s lifelong interest in nature, science, and conservation. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s curriculum, eBird Explorers, uses the eBird citizen-science project to teach science and math concepts to elementary, middle, and high school students. The activities provide resources for getting kids outside to explore nature and observe birds. Elementary school students explore the similarities and differences among local birds, while middle and high school students collect and analyze real data, investigating how global changes affect life on earth. Parents can download starter lessons for free or purchase the in-depth, standards-based curriculum which provides hands-on lessons for students to make careful observations, conduct bird surveys, and analyze data to explore trends and patterns of bird occurrence.

The Nature Conservancy Nature Lab

The Nature Conservancy and its 550 scientists created Nature Works Everywhere to help students learn the science behind how nature works and how to protect it Videos, virtual field trips, webinars, lesson plans, and toolkits make this resource for teachers, homeschoolers or even weekend learning with your kids.

Outdoor Classroom Day

Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to inspire and celebrate outdoor learning and play. The global campaign encourages a day of outdoor, nature-based learning. The campaign website includes excellent facts and other resources but also includes lesson plans for classrooms or homeschoolers as well as nature-based learning topic ideas sourced from a broad range of experts and organizations.

Rainy Day Resources

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Wild Classroom

WWF's resources for learners include a range of toolkits for teachers and homeschoolers on irresistible animals like polar bears, tigers and dolphins featuring information guides and activities about some of WWF’s priority species and conservation goals. Through these subject-integrated nature-based lessons, students can learn how their actions help shape the future of nature. The WIld Classroom contains seven detailed species-specific lesson plans, meet the scientist videos, coloring pages, quizzes, augmented reality app.

National Geographic Explorer Classroom

Explorer Classroom’s live video events, streamed on YouTube, connect young people with National Geographic Explorers around the world as they share their stories and experiences from the field. All events are free and open to the public. While the students are not headed outdoors for nature-based learning, they will have the opportunity to learn about the exciting work of natural history experts and scientists who explore our world. Each month Explorer Classroom features a new theme and provides supporting resources for educators. Explorer Classroom sessions are live events hosted on YouTube. They are open to the public and recorded.

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