Discover Nature - Activities to Educate Junior Naturalists
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Grade: 7th - 12th grade
Class: Technology Education, Environmental Science
Author: Alta Jo Longware
Ausable Valley Central School
NYS Content Area Standard:
Math, Science & Technology:
Standard 2: Information Systems
Standard 6: Interconnectedness: Common Themes
NYS Interdisciplinary Standard:
Adirondack Curriculum Content Area:
Natural History
Performance Indicators:

MST 2:  Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.

MST 6:  Students will understand the relationships and common themes that connect mathematics, science, and technology and apply the themes to these and other areas of learning.

MST 6.2:  Students will use different types of models such as graphs, sketches, diagrams, and maps to represent various aspects of the real world.

Keywords: nature guide, student activities
The Challenge:
Investigative Question or Issue: How do visual models help humans understand and appreciate the natural environment in which they live?

The activities will be compiled into a manual and posted as pdf files that teachers can pull from as needed.

Note from Author: This activity can easily be modified to target a specific learning standard by directing students to specific topics.

The Challenge:

Work in teams to create a series of activities that will help young students learn about and appreciate the value of the Adirondack region.  The activities should be appropriate for children in grades K-2, 3-4, or 5-6 to complete on their own, or with some assistance from a parent or teacher. 

The activities should introduce, enhance, or reinforce topics or concepts that the young hikers will see or do while on the local nature trail. It can be “minds-on” such as a word puzzle, “hands-on” such as a pattern for a cut-out, or “minds-on and hands-on” such as the design of a model habitat.  Whatever the activity is that you create, it should be engaging, educational and FUN - so use your imagination! 

Procedure:  This project will begin with a field experience where the class will take a hike on the school nature trail.  While on the trail, you will work in teams to document the different plant and animal species or prominent features found along the trail.  Following the hike, the class will discuss what each team observed and identify key themes, concepts, or ideas that relate to the Adirondacks, and then brainstorm and create a list of different activities that might be appropriate for young students.  The class will conduct research and collect samples of similar activities.  Each team will develop an activity based on a specific NY State Learning Standard for Math, Science, Technology, Physical Education/Health, Art, Family and Consumer Science, and/or English Language Arts.

The final product for each activity will be in the form of an activity master that a classroom teacher can copy and distribute to the students.  (See the quality standard checklists.)

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Animal Identification and Habitats (Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Insects)
  • Biomes and Biodiversity
  • Careers: Making A Living In and Around the Adirondacks (From agriculture to zoologist)
  • Ecological Threats and Controls (Diseases, Invasives)
  • Ecological Communities (Food chain, Food web)
  • Folklore or Folk Remedies (Origin of the term Adirondack)
  • Forest Products (Food, Shelter, Accessories)
  • Hiking Safety and Etiquette (Poison Ivy, Carry In-Carry Out, Leave No Trace)
  • History (People and/or events that helped make the Adirondacks what they are today)
  • Plant Identification (Herbs, Shrubs, Trees)
  • Prominent Features (Geology, Geography, Topography)
  • Stewardship (Caring for the natural environment)
  • Trivia (Adirondack Firsts)

Resources: To accomplish this task, you will have access to a digital camera, computers, internet, and a printer, as well as plant and animal identification guides, , the New York State Learning Standards, and elementary level curriculum guides. Resource Links:

Examples of Student Work: Scavenger Hunt  •  Leaf Printing  •  Word Search   •  Adirondack Riddles  •  Food Chain  •  Matching  •  Scat Match

Product of the 2008 ACP Biodiversity Workshop, funded by a grant from the New York Biodiversity Research Institute.

Quality Standards:

The student activity should be:

  • Engaging, educational, and FUN!
  • Age appropriate for the specified grade level
  • Factually correct (Research and resources must be documented)
  • Neat and easy to follow with clear instructions
  • Aesthetically pleasing (looks good)
  • Grammatically correct
  • Include appropriate (original) illustrations, diagrams, pictures and/or text
  • Aligned with New York State Learning Standards (SL) in The Arts, Math, Science, Technology, English Language Arts, Social Studies, Health and Physical Education, Family and Consumer Science, or Career Development/Occupational Studies.

The Activity Master should:

  • Fit an 8 _ x 11” piece of paper (or two that will fit an 11” x 17”)
  • Be clear and easily reproduced with a copier

The Activity Cover Sheet should include:

  • Names of the activity developers
  • Target grade level
  • Specific learning standard performance indicators
  • Instructions or other information that a teacher would find useful when using the activity
Product Quality Checklist
Print This Checklist
Standard/Criteria: Points Possible: Points Awarded:

 Student Activity Evaluation

  • Engaging (Activity is hands-on, minds-on)
  • Educational (Provides information and an opportunity to learn)
  • Fun (Appropriate for elementary level students)
  • Neat and

Activity Master  Evaluation

  • Fits 8 _ x 11” piece of paper
  • Reproduces easily on a copier or printer
  • Completed in electronic format (pdf)
  • Completed by date due


Activity Cover Sheet Information Evaluation

  • Identifies names of developers
  • Identifies target grade level
  • Identifies area of curriculum alignment
  • Identifies specific NYS learning standard an


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