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Weekly Resource Sets

This page includes weekly sets of activities that parents/guardians and teachers can use to engage students in learning about and connecting to nature. If you would like to see lists of activities separated by activity type (e.g., online resources) rather than weekly sets, please return to the Educational Resources for Stay Home, Save Lives page.

Para actividades en español, visite Recursos Educativos para Quedarse en Casa Excepto por Necesidades Esenciales.

 

May 22, 2020 - Weather

Weather is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere. It includes things like precipitation, cloudiness, wind, and temperature. In Oregon during springtime, one hour could bring sun, rain, hail, and more! This week, spend some time exploring weather with us.

We recommend you visit our Nature Observations page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Description:

Scientists who study weather and predict weather changes are called meteorologists. Meteorologists use a variety of tools to help them understand weather changes. Make your own weather station to observe temperature, air pressure, wind speed, and rainfall! 

Consideration: Rubbing alcohol (optional) should only be used with adult supervision.  

We recommend you visit our Nature Journaling page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Description:

Spend 10-15 minutes (or more!) watching for weather changes out your window or while outside. 

  • We often use the prompts "I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of" developed by the BEETLES Project to guide our journaling. Visit our Nature Journaling page for a quick description of how this works, or view the full lesson plan on the BEETLES website. 
  • You can use this template if you would like some structure for your journal entries, or you can develop your own format.

Journaling Prompts:

Sit outside or at your window and observe the weather.

  • Record the date, weather conditions, location, and your observations:
    • Weather station observations: If you built weather observation tools, record measurements. 
    • Clouds: Is it sunny, partly cloudy, overcast?
    • Wind: Is the air calm?  Light breeze? Steady wind? Gusts of wind?
    • Temperature: Does it feel warm? Cool? If you don’t have a thermometer, you can describe it as “t-shirt weather”, “sweatshirt weather”, or “jacket weather”.
    • Humidity: Does the air feel dry or wet? Is it raining? Is there dew on plants or other signs of moisture? 
    • Pressure: If you have built a homemade barometer, can you see any change in pressure from the previous day? 
    • Change: Is the weather changing rapidly or is it steady throughout the day? 
  • Other patterns: Do you notice other patterns during different weather conditions? 
    • Are insects or birds more/less active? Do they do different activities in different weather conditions? 
    • Do trees or other plants change in noticeable ways? 
  • Return to the same spot multiple times per day or week to observe the changing weather. 
  • How do different types of weather make you feel? 
  • What does a sunny day remind you of?  What about wind?  

Description:

Learn about how energy from the sun causes air masses to move, creating weather.  

This short video from the science program NOVA, explaining the basics of weather, is available in both english and spanish. 

This Crash Course Kids video will help you understand the difference between “weather” and “climate”. 

Learn facts about weather on earth, and play a game that has you race against an opponent to answer the most questions and move your ship around the world. 

Considerations: This game is best when you know some of the information, so you may want to read some questions/answers before playing the game. 

May 15, 2020 - Clouds

Clouds are more than just clues to everyday weather. They can also help us understand major storms and changes to our climate!

 

We recommend you visit our Nature Observations page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Description:

Make your own cloud: Have you ever wondered how clouds form? There are several types of clouds, but they all have something in common: they are made of water. You can use household materials to make your own cloud in a jar.

  • Record your observations as you make your cloud.

Consideration: In this activity you will need a half cup of very hot water. Please handle with caution with an adult’s help.

GLOBE Observer: Your observations can help scientists track changes in clouds in support of climate research! To participate, just download the app, go outside and follow the prompts in the app to observe your environment. Photograph clouds, record sky observations and compare them with NASA satellite images to help scientists understand the sky from above and below.

ConsiderationGLOBE Observer requires access to a smart phone and ability to download an app.

We recommend you visit our Nature Journaling page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Description:

Spend an hour (or more!) looking at clouds. It’s a great way to pass an afternoon.

  • We often use the prompts "I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of" developed by the BEETLES Project to guide our journaling. Visit our Nature Journaling page for a quick description of how this works, or view the full lesson plan on the BEETLES website. 
  • You can use this template if you would like some structure for your journal entries, or you can develop your own format.

Journaling Prompts:

Take a seat in your yard or at your window to look at the passing clouds.

  • Record the date, weather conditions, location, and your observations.
  • Try finding different shapes or animals in the clouds and draw them in your journal.
  • Return to the same spot or window multiple times to observe the clouds. Draw the clouds you see, or record whether there are no clouds. 
    • Are the clouds always moving in the same direction? At the same speed?
    • Can you notice any daily patterns, such as a certain kind of cloud that only appears in the morning?

Which type of cloud would you like to learn more about? Write or draw and write what you already know about it, and then list some questions you have.

Which direction are the clouds coming from? Based on what you know about the area around you, what might the clouds have passed before they reached your location? What will they pass as they are moving away from you?

Description:

Often we only notice clouds when we’re experiencing weather or seeing a beautiful sunset, but clouds are important components of a complex global weather system. Watch this series of videos from PBS and answer the questions to learn more!

While watching The Making of A Cloud video, answer the following questions: 

  • What is the main ingredient of all clouds?
  • What are some sources of water vapor in the air?
  • How is air temperature related to the amount of water vapor that the air can hold?
  • What are some examples of condensation nuclei?
  • What happens when the water droplets or ice crystals of a cloud become too heavy to stay aloft?

While watching the Why So Many Cloud Types video answer the following questions:

  • What are the two main characteristics used in cloud classification?
  • Describe the four shape categories of clouds.
  • How does the height at which a cloud forms influence its composition?
  • How can a cloud provide information about winds or forecast the weather?
  • Describe how clouds and climate change are related.

Feeling like you know the different types of clouds? Try your hand at this cloud lab activity challenge to practice classifying clouds. Be sure to use the key in the bottom left of the window to help you in the process!

If you want to see how clouds are always in motion, check out this cloud video from the Cloud Appreciation Society. 

May 8, 2020 - Watersheds

A watershed is an area of land where water drains down from higher land into a single spot like the mouth of a river. The borders of a watershed are marked by high spots like ridges, hills, or mountains. Join us in some experiments to learn about how water flows, and even try to build your own watershed!

See Online Activities for videos about watersheds.

 

We recommend you visit our Nature Observations page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Description:

Let’s experiment with different surfaces to see how they affect water flow!

  • If you are able to go outside, take some bottles/cups of water and spray bottles full of water, and try pouring and spraying water onto different surfaces. Try pouring and spraying water on different surfaces:
    • Pavement: driveways, sidewalks, patios
    • Grass or flowers
    • Trees or shrubs
    • Dirt/soil
    • Water puddles
  • Bring paper or your journal if you’d like to write or draw your observations. Think, talk, write, or draw about these questions:
    • What does your container of water represent? 
    • Some surfaces are permeable (allow water to pass through) and others are impermeable (do not allow water to pass through). Are any surfaces you are testing permeable? Impermeable?
    • When you pour water on the pavement, where does it go? Where does it go when you pour it onto the grass or dirt?
    • How fast does water disappear on different surfaces? Which one is slowest/fastest?
    • How do different surfaces (soil, trees, shrubs, grass, rocks, logs, pavement, houses) affect water flow and absorption in our watershed? 
  • If you are not able to go outside, gather different items inside to experiment with, such as: a towel or washcloth (to replicate grass/soil), sponge (to replicate grass/soil), plate (to replicate pavement), tinfoil (to replicate pavement), house plants, etc. Conduct your experiments in a sink, bathtub, or shower so you don’t make a giant mess!

Want to try and build your own watershed model? You can build a model inside or outside!

  • Watch this silent video for an example of a watershed model.

We recommend you visit our Nature Journaling page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Description:

Let’s think about our own watershed and try to draw and label the different parts.

  • We often use the prompts "I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of" developed by the BEETLES Project to guide our journaling. Visit our Nature Journaling page for a quick description of how this works, or view the full lesson plan on the BEETLES website. 
  • You can use this template if you would like some structure for your journal entries, or you can develop your own format.

Journaling Prompts:

Think about your watershed. Draw and label these aspects of your watershed in your journal:

  • What is your home river or creek?
  • What is the tallest peak around your home river or creek?
  • Where does the water from this river or creek drain to?
  • What does it pass by or through as it drains downhill?
  • Where does it end up?
  • What surfaces slow it down? Speed it up? Hint: think about (or try) the experiment with permeable versus impermeable surfaces, from the Nature Observations link associated with this activity. 

Look out your window (or explore outdoors if you can), and record the different surfaces you see. When it rains, how does water flow along these surfaces? Are there high points and low points? Are there permeable and impermeable surfaces? Draw and write about them.

Description:

  • Watch these short videos to learn what a watershed is and how water flows within watersheds. 
  • Explore your watershed and familiarize yourself with different aspects of your watershed by using Google Maps. Use the icon at the bottom left to switch to satellite view. You can also use Google Earth for 3D exploration. 
    • See if you can find the following features of your creek or river:
      • The headwaters (or where a creek or river begins)
      • The mouth (or where the creek or river joins another body of water, such as another river or the ocean)
      • Other important aspects of your creek or river (such as: a dam, incoming streams, or large paved structures like a mall)
  • Check out this Conserve Water at Home activity from Project Learning Tree.
  • Find your watershed on the USGS website.

May 1, 2020 - Soil

Did you know that soil is alive? Soil is a combination of minerals, air, water, animals and other living matter and their wastes. Soil grows our food, fibers, materials and more that sustains life on earth. Learn more about this fascinating stuff!

 

We recommend you visit our Nature Observations page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Description:

Who doesn’t like getting their hands a little dirty?  Explore differences in soil types and composition in this neat and simple Soil Stories activity. 

  • If you aren’t able to go outside to collect soil, see if you can find any inside! Maybe you have some plants that are growing in soil, or maybe there is soil on some vegetables that haven’t been washed yet. You might not be able to find enough soil inside to do a “soil shake”, but you could still make careful observations of the soil you find. 
  • If you can’t find any soil, watch this video to see the living world of soil under our feet. And you can look closely at this poster to learn about the biodiversity in soil.

Want to do more soil experiments with the soil in your yard or nearby open space? 

Try this soil texture analysis experiment or this soil erosion demonstration to see the variability and importance of soil.  

Considerations:

For the soil erosion demonstration, you will need three plastic bottles. Please enlist the help of an adult in setting up the structure for the soil erosion activity and use care when cutting bottles.

For the soil texture analysis, you will need a mason jar or plastic jar with a lid. 

We recommend you visit our Nature Journaling page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Description:

If we take the time to look closely, we can find many shapes, colors, and sometimes even crawling critters in a tiny bit of soil.

  • We often use the prompts "I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of" developed by the BEETLES Project to guide our journaling. Visit our Nature Journaling page for a quick description of how this works, or view the full lesson plan on the BEETLES website. 
  • You can use this template if you would like some structure for your journal entries, or you can develop your own format.

Journaling Prompts:

  • Scatter a handful of soil on a white piece of paper and look closely. 
    • Sketch the different particle sizes, describe the texture, and things you notice in your journal. What do you notice, what do you wonder about, and what does it remind you of?
    • If you are able to get soil from more than one location, compare and contrast the colors, particle sizes, and textures of multiple soils.
  • Write about a memory from your life that is related to soil. For example, maybe there was a time you got mud all over your clothes, or a time when you planted seeds in soil. Write about what happened and how you felt.
  • Find your location on the USDA’s maps of soil colors. (Select the OR.pdf file for Oregon’s map.) 
    • Describe what you notice about the soil color in your area and how it compares to nearby areas.
    • What patterns do you notice in the state map?
    • Write a few “I wonder why…” statements about what you observe on the map.
  • For a fun way to record the types of soil you are observing, try Painting with Soil!

Description:

What's the difference between dirt and soil? So much! 

Watch this short video to learn more about the important role of soil: How Dirt Works

 Answer the following question while watching the accompanying video segments.

  • Why is soil a valuable resource? Video: Valuable Resource 
  • How do humans rely on soil? Video: Humans and Soil
  • Why is it important to monitor the health of soil? Video: Soil Health
  • What are some strategies used to improve and maintain the health of soil? Video: Strategies

Want to play a game testing your soil knowledge? Try The Great Plant Escape.

Or play a card game with the family? Try this Soil Card Game for some family fun.

April 24, 2020 - Arthropods

Arthropods (a huge group of animals that includes insects, spiders, and shrimp) are all around us. Whether you are inside or outside, you can find arthropods!

Safety consideration: Be careful when observing arthropods, as some can bite or sting. If you are allergic to certain arthropods, like bees or shrimp, take particular care. 

We recommend you visit our Nature Observations page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

How to observe arthropods:

  • If you are able to go outside safely, one of the best ways to observe arthropods is to sit or stand quietly in one spot. 
    • To observe with your eyes, first look around to see if you notice any arthropods. Then, instead of searching for arthropods, pay attention to any movement you see. Let your eyes follow the movement, and see if it’s an arthropod that is moving!
    • To observe with your ears, listen carefully for any noises that might be caused by arthropods - like the buzz of flapping wings!
  • If you are observing arthropods inside, there are a few key places to look: 
    • On the windows
    • Along the window sill
    • In the corners of the ceiling or floor
    • On or near plants, like houseplants or ripe fruit
  • Before you start making arthropod observations, you might want to visit the Online Activities for this week (below) to learn more about all the different kinds of arthropods. 

Arthropod behavior (making an ethogram):

If we take the time to really watch the arthropods around us, we can start to notice lots of interesting behaviors. An ethogram is a record of animal behaviors. Find a live arthropod to observe and use this ethogram sheet to record what the arthropod is doing. Or, you could make a similar sheet in your journal!

Variation 1: Are you able to observe an area where many arthropods are visiting, like a plant with flowers on it? Instead of making repeated observations of a single arthropod, make repeated tallies of the arthropods you see. For example, every fifteen seconds, count how many bees, how many spiders, and how many ants you see.

Variation 2: If you can’t view a live arthropod’s behavior, observe a video of an arthropod. To keep your focus on the arthropod, turn off the sound if there is any narration or music playing in the video. Here are two videos to try:

This is Why Water Striders Make Terrible Lifeguards

Dung Beetle Rolls Enormous Dung Ball with Difficulty

 

We recommend you visit our Nature Journaling page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Journaling About Arthropods:

Think about the experiences you have had with arthropods in your life, and take the time to observe arthropods in your life today! Record your thoughts and observations.

  • We often use the prompts "I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of" developed by the BEETLES Project to guide our journaling. Visit our Nature Journaling page for a quick description of how this works, or view the full lesson plan on the BEETLES website. 
  • You can use this template if you would like some structure for your journal entries, or you can develop your own format.

Journaling Prompts:

  • Write about an experience you have had with arthropods. Maybe you were chasing butterflies or you walked into a spider web. What happened and how did you feel?
  • Which kind of arthropod would you like to learn more about? Write or draw what you already know about it, and then list some questions you have.
  • Are there any arthropods that are special to you or to your friends or family? What makes the arthropod special?
  • Record the date, weather conditions, location, and your observations of arthropod activity:
    • What are the arthropods doing? (describe what you see, hear)
  • Can you observe an arthropod up close? Draw it in your journal. Pay special attention to the shape of its body parts and how/where different parts are connected. For example, how many main body sections does the arthropod have? Where are the legs attached?

What do all arthropods have in common? What are the different kinds of arthropods? Check out the Arthropods page from PBS to learn more.

Many arthropods are too small to observe without special equipment like microscopes, or they may be hard to find. Fortunately, we can learn about these arthropods online!

To see what kinds of wildlife people have been observing in their homes around the world, explore the Never Home Alone iNaturalist project.

April 17, 2020 - Pollinators

Look at any flowering tree, shrub, or herb, and you will likely see creatures busily nosing into flowers seeking nectar and pollen.  Did you know these animals are doing an essential service for the plants by carrying powdery pollen between flowers of the same species? This exchange of pollen is required for most flowering plants to create fertile seeds.  This week, we’re taking a closer look at these “pollinators”. The time is right as Oregon’s spring season is in full swing!

Safety Consideration:  

While most pollinators, such as bumble bees, mason bees, and honey bees are docile, it is important to be careful and give them space when observing them as they pollinate flowers.  People with allergies to bees and pollen should take particular care.

We recommend you visit our Nature Observations page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Build a Mason Bee Home

When people think of bees, they often think of honey bees.  Did you know there are approximately 500 species of bees living in Oregon? You can follow these instructions to build bee habitat to encourage them to pollinate the plants in your neighborhood!  

For more information about Mason bees and keeping them, check out:

10 Tips for Keeping Mason Bees

Building a Home for Mason Bees

Pollinator Patrol!

Pollinators are everywhere in spring, but they keep moving!  Finding them means you have to look closely and pay attention.  If you have access to a yard, a window, a patio, or balcony, watch for flies, moths, bees, small birds, or other possible pollinators.  Observe any activity you see, especially if there are flowering plants in sight. If you can get close to the flowers, look closely - you’ll probably see some pollinators!   

  • If there are multiple kinds of flowers nearby, look closely at each. Do they have the same pollinators?  How many different types of pollinators can you count?  
  • Do the pollinators you observe appear to be collecting pollen? Sometimes you can see small bright orange balls of pollen being carried by insects!  Other pollinators, like hummingbirds, may be more interested in the flower nectar.  
  • Write down what you see, or take pictures if able. See the Nature Journaling section below for ideas. 

Public Science

Oregon has an active statewide community of bee enthusiasts.  Check out the Oregon Bee Project for information about garden plants that attract bees, field guides to identify different species of bees, and an ongoing project to map the bee species people see around the state.

Oregon Bee Project 

The Quest to Find Every Kind of Bee in Oregon (video)

We recommend you visit our Nature Journaling page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Journaling About Pollinators:

It may be difficult to find a pollinator that will sit still for a drawing, but there are lots of ways to record your observations and thoughts in a journal. If you are able to take pictures of the flowers, with or without the pollinators, that could be a great way to record what you see. 

  • We often use the prompts "I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of" developed by the BEETLES Project to guide our journaling. Visit our Nature Journaling page for a quick description of how this works, or view the full lesson plan on the BEETLES website. 
  • You can use this template if you would like some structure for your journal entries, or you can develop your own format.

Journaling Prompts:

  • Try to find a place where you can make close observations of a shrub, tree, or other flowering plant.  Set a timer for 5-10 minutes, and spend some quiet time watching the plant(s), especially the flowers. Record the date, weather conditions, the plants you are seeing, and your observations of pollinator activity:
    • What are the pollinators doing? (describe what you see, hear?
    • How long do they stay at one flower?  
    • Do they visit other flowers? 
    • How many pollinators are around?
  • If you are able to get a close look at a pollinator, draw what you see. Include the plants/flowers! You could also draw a pollinator that you observe in a photo or video. 
  • Imagine YOU are a pollinator. Write a short story or paragraph describing your activities.  What/who are you? How do you interact with plants? Why do you visit certain types of plants? 
  • Write about a personal experience you’ve had with pollinators. Maybe you saw a hummingbird visit a feeder or a flower.  Maybe you were stung by a bee! What happened? What did you notice? How did you feel about it?

Description:

Take some time to watch videos about pollinators, see pictures of them, and read about their lives and how important they are to ecosystems.  The linked videos and sites will give you good background on questions such as:

  • What are pollinators and what kinds are there?
  • How are pollinators important to flowering plants?
  • What are “solitary bees” and in particular, what is a Mason Bee?
  • How can we protect pollinators and create healthy habitats for them?

Links:

Meet the pollinators: Want to learn about pollinators by reading about different types of pollinators? Try this site from the University of California and select the tabs that interest you (beetles, moths, bees, etc). \

Pollinator videos:

The Beauty of Pollination

Intro to Solitary Bees

Mason Bees of Oregon

Mason Bee Life Cycle

Test Your Knowledge:

Want to see how much you can learn about pollinators?  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a “jeopardy” game about pollinators. You can follow the directions to play from the main topic board, and see if you know the answers to each question.  Or, you could go through all the questions and answers first, and then play the game to see how much you remember! 

April 10, 2020 - Flowers

Flowers are essential for plant reproduction for many of the plants found in Oregon. Plus, they are often bright, beautiful colors, and many people enjoy looking at them or smelling them. Spring is the perfect time to learn about flowers in Oregon. Join us this week in taking the time to notice all the ways that flowers color our lives!

We recommend you visit our Nature Observations page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Go on a flower search. 

  • If you have safe access to outdoor space (for example, a backyard or an area where you walk a pet) see how many flowers you can find in bloom right now. Some flowers have bright colors that are easy to spot, but look closely at all the plants you see - they might have flowers that are small or green! Don’t forget to look at trees!
  • If you do not have safe access to outdoor space, you can go on a flower hunt inside! You might find flowers on houseplants or on some of your food. You might find photos or drawings of flowers in books, on clothing, or on food packaging. Think creatively about all the places you might find flowers!

Dissect a flower.

  • Take a look inside a flower to locate and identify the different parts that the flower uses to create pollen, catch pollen, and make seeds. The Edmonton & Area Land Trust has simple instructions for a flower dissection, or for more explanation, check out this version from Scientific American!
  • Though many flowers have the exact same parts, these parts can look very different. If you can find more than one kind of flower, compare the shapes and locations of flower parts in different kinds of flowers.
  • If you don't have any flowers to dissect, don't worry! See the Online Activities below for an online version of a flower dissection.

Considerations: Flower dissection requires scissors or a knife/scalpel. An adult should supervise.

Make a pollen trap.

  • Flowering plants make pollen in their flowers. Some plants depend on pollinators like bees, flies, and birds to move their pollen from one flower to another, but many plants depend on the wind to blow their pollen. This blowing pollen falls onto flat surfaces (or goes up our noses and causes allergies!). 
    • Pollen Nation shows you how to make and set up a pollen trap to learn about the pollen that is blowing in the air around you. You can even submit a photo of your pollen trap (with adult supervision) after it collects pollen, and it will tell you how many pollen grains were caught on your trap. (Note: If you would like to submit a photo of your pollen trap to Pollen Nation, follow their exact specifications for the size of your trap.)
    • You can find written instructions for making a pollen trap, and ideas for making a trap if you don't have black paper, here.
    • Record notes about how much pollen your trap collects. 
      • Are some of the pollen grains larger than others?
      • Is there a pattern to how the pollen grains are trapped on the paper rectangle?
      • Do you see any plants around you that might be sending pollen into the air right now?
    • For extra fun, put out multiple pollen traps and see whether different amounts or types of pollen collect in different areas.

Considerations

  • This activity should not increase your exposure to pollen (which is already in the air when you set up your trap), but if you have a severe pollen allergy you might consider skipping this activity.
  • Pollen trapping works best on dry days.

We recommend you visit our Nature Journaling page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Journaling About Flowers:

Flowers are great journaling subjects because they have so many different colors, textures, and scents. If you can’t visit any flowering plants outside or see flowers through a window, check to see if there are flowers inside! Some houseplants have flowers, and some of the food we eat is made of flowers. For example, when you eat broccoli, you are eating tiny flower buds! If you don’t have any live flowers to observe, you might be able to find artificial flowers or photos or drawings of flowers in the newspaper, in books, or on clothing.

  • We often use the prompts "I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of" developed by the BEETLES Project to guide our journaling. Visit our Nature Journaling page for a quick description of how this works, or view the full lesson plan on the BEETLES website. 
  • You can use this template if you would like some structure for your journal entries, or you can develop your own format.

Journaling Prompts:

  • If you are able to observe flowers close up, choose one flower (you can leave it attached to the plant) that you would like to observe. Record every detail you notice about the flower. It can be tempting to say, “I’m done!” before you have noticed many of the details, so you might choose to set a timer for five or ten minutes to make sure you take the time to move beyond the “obvious” details.
  • Go on a shape hunt! Choose a shape (triangle, circle, or another shape) and try to find flowers or parts of a flower with that shape. Record your observations in your journal with drawings and words. You can use photos of flowers if you are not able to observe any live flowers.
  • Write a poem about how you feel when flowers first begin to bloom and signal that spring has arrived.
  • When you look out your window or walk around outside, make a color map that shows where you can find flowers of each color. Repeat this process in a week (and in another week after that, if you want!) to see how the colors of flowers around you are changing.

Descriptions:

If you don't have any live flowers to dissect, check out this online flower dissection! Click on "Flower 1" on the left side of the page to get started with the virtual dissection.

Budburst tracks plant life events like getting flowers and leaves in the spring. Explore the maps to learn about plants found in Oregon. 

Considerations: Requires device with an internet connection.

Links:

Interactive Virtual Plant Dissection Lab

Budburst - Plants in Oregon

April 3, 2020 - Trees

Where would we be without trees? Trees not only provide habitat for those fascinating birds you learned about last week, but we also depend on them to clean the air, provide oxygen, cool the streets and cities, prevent erosion, and provide food and shelter. Join us this week in taking a closer look at the trees around us and seeing what we can learn from them.

We recommend you visit our Nature Observations page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Description:

Drawing and observing a tree in detail is a great way to learn more about trees, their parts, and their important role in the ecosystem. You can observe trees in detail even from your window! In The Closer You Look (en español), students will draw and write from memory about a tree, then head outside or to a nearby window to closely observe all the parts of a tree to see how much more they learn when looking closely.

Links:

The Closer You Look - Compare your ‘from memory’ tree to the real thing!

En español: Cuanto más cerca lo veas, mejor

Other Activities: 

  • Do you have access to a smartphone and want to contribute scientific data to NASA? Check out this Measure A Tree activity to measure a tree near you. 
  • For more backyard tree activities, check out these resources from Project Learning Tree.

Considerations:

  • Measure a Tree requires access to a smartphone or device with an internet connection capable of streaming video and sound.

We recommend you visit our Nature Journaling page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Journaling About Trees:

Trees are great journaling subjects because they don’t crawl or fly or squirm away as we try to look closely. You can observe trees indoors by looking out your window or outdoors by sitting quietly near the tree. When you do this, record what you notice, wonder, and feel.

Journaling Prompts:

  • Make a sound map using your sense of hearing with this Project Learning Tree Sounds Around activity. (en español)
    • You could make a sound map that includes multiple trees, or you could make a sound map of one individual tree by mapping how sound moves through the tree when the wind blows on the leaves or branches.  
  • Observe the same tree each week throughout the spring season to track changes in how it looks. If you are able to observe a tree up close, also record how it smells and feels.
    • You can use this template if you would like some structure for your journal entries, or you can develop your own format.
  • Write a poem about your tree, either on your own or using Poet-Tree (en español). 
  • What organisms are using your tree as part of their habitat? Record your questions and thoughts about the habitat your tree provides.
    • Some organisms may be large enough to observe through a window. If you can go outside to observe a tree, look closely at the bark to see if you can find any small plants, animals, or fungi!

 

Descriptions:

Have you ever wondered about the environmental benefits provided by trees in your neighborhood? I-Tree is a web-based tool designed by the US Forest Service where you can input data from one or more trees growing in your community and calculate the benefits they provide. Watch this video to learn how to calculate the benefits of a tree near you. (instrucciones en español, página 13)

What Tree is That? Have other trees that you want to identify? Use What Tree is That? or Common Trees of the Pacific Northwest for some online identification tools to see if you can figure it out. 

Considerations: 

  • Requires device with an internet connection capable of streaming video and sound.

Links:

How to Calculate Tree Benefits (instrucciones en español, página 13)

What Tree is That?

Common Trees of the Pacific Northwest

March 27, 2020 - Birds

Birds are fascinating and are all around us! There is so much to observe out the window, in the yard, or in the outdoor spaces near where we live. Join us in a few activities this week to learn about birds, and share some of your ideas and creations with us!

We recommend you visit our Nature Observations page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Description:

Creating a bird feeder and placing it outside is a great way to attract birds that you can observe closely, even through your window!  If you have a yard, the feeder can be away from the house, or some feeders can even be under the roof overhang or on a window sill. The following links contain several different plans to build bird feeders, from recycled everyday materials, or more involved plans if you have tools and wood to use.  Other links have ideas for things you might have in the house that birds would eat.

Considerations:

  • Bird feeders can be messy (birds don’t use napkins or worry about dropping food bits)
  • Feeder should be in a place safe for birds (out of reach of cats, not next to large picture windows they might fly into)
  • Other animals might love your bird feeder too.  If you find it is attracting raccoons or other wild animals, you may have to move it or take it down.  
  • Get help from an adult in choosing a location and installing the feeder. 

Links:

Simple Bird Feeder Plans:

6 Fun and Easy Bird Feeders That Any Kid Can Make

Make a Bird Feeder Out of Recycled Materials

Instructional Videos: 

How to Make a Simple Bird Feeder

Pine Cone with Peanut Butter Bird Feeder

Bird Food Ideas: 

Feeding Birds With Kitchen Items

10 Best Types of Birdseed and Food

We recommend you visit our Nature Journaling page for tips and suggestions for getting started.

Birds are perfect subjects for nature journaling. Most of us can observe birds in our every day life, by watching them, hearing them, or both! Birds have interesting behaviors that can inspire many questions, especially if we take the time to observe them closely.

Journaling About Birds:

You can observe birds by looking out your window or sitting quietly to listen for them. When you do this, record what you notice, wonder, and feel.

  • We often use the prompts "I Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of" developed by the BEETLES Project to guide our journaling. Visit our Nature Journaling page for a quick description of how this works, or view the full lesson plan on the BEETLES website. 
  • In their guide for Keeping a Bird Journal, Alan and Linda Zuckerman recommend that every journal entry contain at least this information:
    • The date.
    • The location of your observations.
    • The weather.
    • What plants are blooming. (Describe them if you don't know their names.)
    • The birds you observe and what they are doing.
  • Return to the same spot (for example, look out the same window) more than once to see whether you notice different birds (or different behaviors from the same birds) at different times or on different days.

Journaling Prompts:

  • Sometimes a blank page can be intimidating. For help structuring your journal entries, check out this journal template, which you might choose to copy by hand onto your own paper.
  • Write a creative story that uses some of the birds you are seeing as characters.
  • Write a poem about birds, either on your own or using a Poet-Tree. (en español)
  • Record your questions and thoughts about a bird's habitat needs and life cycle.

Drawing Birds:

Do you want to draw the birds you see but don't know where to start? The naturalist, author, and educator John Muir Laws has a How to Draw Birds guide on his website that will lead you through the steps.

Description:

Almost everyone loves games!  In Bird Song Hero, listen to birdsongs and match them to a visual “spectrogram” showing the different types of sounds in the song. It’s a really fun way to hone your listening skills and learn about birdsongs you might hear when you’re out exploring - or just sitting quietly inside! As an extra challenge, you could try drawing a spectrogram of a birdsong in your own journal. Once you finish Birdsong Hero, try some of the other games, or explore other parts of the Cornell Labs site like their live Bird Cams of birds of prey, songbirds, and water foul.  

Considerations: 

  • Requires device with an internet connection capable of streaming video and sound
  • Be sure adult guardians approve of online learning games

Links:

Bird Song Hero Game (challenge yourself to identify bird songs...and look for the robot!)

Bird Academy Play Lab (eight games & interactive tutorials)

Bird Cams (live cams on real birds nests!)

Questions?

Please don't hesitate to contact us at outdoorschool@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-4391 if you have any questions about the Outdoor School Program!