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Birdwatching USA
Wildlife Rehabilitation
Endangered Honeybees
Pet Responsibility
Backyard Naturalist
Lesson Plan

OverviewProcedures for Teachers
Organizers for Students


Activity One

The purpose of this activity is for students to build background knowledge on the basic categories of plants and animals.

1. Divide the class into ten groups and assign each group one of the following topics:

  • Plants
  • Fungi
  • Lichen
  • Mosses
  • Mammals
  • Birds
  • Invertebrates
  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles
  • Fish
2. Ask each group to prepare a poster and a short oral presentation that describes the members of its category.

3. Provide time for groups to share information with the class.

4. Display the posters where students will be able to access them.


Activity One

The purpose of this activity is to encourage students to explore the plants and wildlife that exist outside their front doors.

Teacher Preparation Note:
In this lesson students will spend 3-5 days making recordings of the plants and wildlife they find in their community. In preparation for this activity, collect as many of these items as you can: clipboards, magnifying glasses, binoculars, glass jars, rulers, and spoons or other digging utensils, as well as plant, bird, animal, and insect identification books. Students will also need to have a "nature hunt" journal. Three-ringed binders, notebooks, or paper with holes punched through them and tied with yarn or string would work well for this activity. The Organizers for Students section contains a template for the journals. As students collect their observations, have them identify as many of their findings as possible.

1. Referring to the posters from the Building Background Activity, ask students to predict how many varieties, from each category, could be found in the area where they live. Record the numbers for each category for later reference.

2. Tell students that they are going to embark on a weeklong nature hunt to explore the plants and wildlife that exist in their own backyards and neighborhoods.

3. Have students make a nature journal that contains the following sections:

  • Plant descriptions/observations
  • Animal descriptions/observations
  • Sounds of nature
  • Thoughts and feelings about nature
4. Students may work alone or in pairs for this activity.

5. Ask students to spend time every day recording information in their journals. Encourage students to carry the journal with them during the week and record observations wherever they go. This might include their backyard, a nearby park, or their neighborhood.

6. Share these tips with your students before they begin.
  • Wear earthy colors to blend in with the environment.
  • Stop or slow down to notice the world around you.
  • Don't forget to look under rocks, overhead, in gardens, at the base of trees, under the grass, etc.
  • Most animals are active early in the morning or at dusk.
7. After students have finished gathering observations, create a class list that shows how many species were found for each category.

8. Hang two poster boards on the wall. Label one board "Sounds of Nature" and label the second one "Thoughts and Feelings on Nature." Ask each student to record something from his or her journal on the poster board.

9. Tally the number of species found and compare it to the number from their earlier predictions. Discuss the results.

10. Break the students into small groups and ask them to answer the following questions:
  • What was the most surprising thing you learned in your observations?
  • Did you develop a new appreciation for wildlife? Explain.
  • Did you see any examples of wildlife struggling to survive in a changing environment? Explain.
11. After the groups have finished, allow time for groups to share their answers with the entire class.

Cinquain Poem

Teacher Note: You may choose to assign this as homework.

1. Tell students that they are going to write a Cinquain poem about something they encountered in their observations.

Write this format for a Cinquain poem on the board.

  • Line 1: Write the word of the object of their poem
  • Line 2: Four syllables describing this object
  • Line 3: Six syllables showing action of the object
  • Line 4: Eight syllables describing a feeling or observation about the object
  • Line 5: Two syllables describing or renaming the object
2. Ask students to think about each line one at a time, and generate a list of as many words as they can for that category.

3. Choose the words for the poem from the list.

4. Encourage students to spend some time experimenting and playing around with the their word selections.

5. After students have finished writing the poem, ask them to copy the poem onto a piece of paper. Encourage students to illustrate or add decorative embellishments to the poem.

6. Display poems around the room.

Activity Two

In this activity students will write a newspaper article on the importance of preserving nature.

1. Discuss the section from the "Appreciating the Desert" (Episode 2; approx. 50:13) segment of the WILD TV program where they discuss the importance of young people establishing a connection with nature and developing an understanding of why it needs to be protected.

2. Tell students that they are going to write a newspaper article on the importance of preserving nature. The students may approach the article from any perspective they choose.

3. Students may choose a topic from the WILD TV programs, or one of their own. The following sites are a list of suggested Web sites that might help students generate ideas for their articles:

"Green Chimney" Web site

"Community Gardens" Web site

"Wildlife Profile Diamondback Terrapin" Web site

"South Florida Ecosystem History Project" Web site

"The Crystal River Florida Manatee Expedition"

"American Field Guide"

"Harriman Expedition: Field Research on Local Species"

"Journey To Planet Earth"

"NATURE: The Wild Side of New York"

"Scientific American Frontiers: Backyard Science"


4. Ask for volunteers to share their articles with the class.


1. Read naturalist Jade Stokes' quote from the "Appreciating the Desert" segment of the WILD TV program. "We were just sitting around in school, and we came up with this idea that young people can really make a difference." Brainstorm ways that you can make a difference.

2. Read this quote from the WILD TV program: "If we all just do what we can to help the earth and animals through, we can make this world a better place and have a mad, funky party, too."

3. Incorporating some of the ideas from the brainstorming session, plan a mad, funky party to bring attention to what people can do to help the earth and animals through.

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