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Virtual Field Trip: Explore the Outdoors with Nature Cat

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Tally ho! This week is Natural Wonders Week for Nature Cat on PBS Kids. Fred is a house cat that transforms into Nature Cat, “backyard explorer extraordinaire”, while his family is away during the day. During this week of all-new episodes, Nature Cat, Squeeks, Daisy and Hal explore Natural Wonders such as The Grand Canyon, Old Faithful, The Great Salt Lake and Niagara Falls. 

Gather up the family and buckle up for a virtual field trip without having to leave your home! 

As we enter our third month (fourth for some) in quarantine, we find ourselves looking for more and more creative ways to keep our kids and families engaged. Virtual field trips have gained popularity across classrooms in the past few years, as they do not require permission slips or travel and provide insight into amazing places and exciting journeys. This idea can be adapted to help families embark on their own virtual journeys from the safety of their homes. 

Virtual Field Trip Activity
Before you get started on your virtual field trip, print out the Map of the United States. If you don’t have access to a printer, you can display the map on a device with electronic annotating capacities. This Map is a support material from the educational resource from the music artist HelloGoodbye: I Wanna See the States.

Optional: This resource serves as a great way to introduce/review the 50 states with your kids. 

You can print one map out for the family, or one per participant. You will utilize the map to label the location and color in the state, as you complete each stop of the virtual field trip.

This virtual field trip will take us across the United States as we visit the same stops that Nature Cat and his friends will discover this week. Watch each video, pausing to use the activity/question prompts provided to help generate discussion with your little. You can view each video on its own, before watching the corresponding Nature Cat episode, or you can complete the virtual field trips together as its own activity. 

Time to Explore!

  • Grand Canyon: The theory of how the Grand Canyon was formed is shown in this animation from NOVA, and features rare footage of a phenomenon known as debris flow.
    Resource: The Grand Canyon: How It Formed
  • Old Faithful:  Geothermal features, which include geysers, hot springs, steam vents called fumaroles, and boiling mud pots, are found on nearly every continent. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming contains the world's largest collection: nearly 10,000 such features lie within its 2.25 million acres. In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, a young guide offers viewers a tour of the park and explains how Earth's internal heat fuels geothermal formations. The tour makes it clear why millions of people visit Yellowstone each year to witness the park's explosive displays and colorful deposits.
    Resource: A Visit to Yellowstone
  • Great Salt Lake: Watch this Smithsonian video clip that explores the Great Salt Lake. Covering 1,700 square miles, Utah's Great Salt Lake is the biggest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere.
    Resource: What Makes Great Salt Lake So Great? 

Discussion Prompts 

  • Share What You Learned: Share through text and/or illustrations what you learned.
  • Vocabulary Words: As you watch, identify new vocabulary words that you learned.
  • Venn Diagram: Choose two locations. Draw a Venn Diagram to compare what makes them different and what makes them the same.
  • Wonders Vacation: If you could visit any of the four locations, which would you want to see and why?

Enjoyed your virtual field trips? Continue the learning and exploration with Nature Cat and PBS LearningMedia using the following Nature Cat resources. 

Nature Cat | Nature Road Trip
Join Nature Cat and visit as many parks as you can during your nature road trip from Yellowstone National Park to the Grand Canyon. 

Nature Cat's Great Outdoors Mobile Downloads | PBS KIDS
Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors is the on-the-go toolset that will inspire your child to explore nature – in the backyard, at a local park or even looking out the window.  Every day, Nature Cat has a set of new daily adventures that lets kids use tools to record and share their observations in fun, creative ways.Best part: You can complete these activities while practicing safe social distancing! 

Nature Cat | Story Exploration Packet
As you watch Nature Cat, use these activity sheets to guide discussions and learning activities.  

Nature Cat
Explore the entire collection of Nature Cat educational resources and activities from PBS LearningMedia

Paula Hill Education Media Content Coordinator | Certified Grades 5-9 Teacher

After spending my first-year teaching in a low-income urban school in Washington, DC, I returned to Florida to finish my Graduate Degree and seek further professional development. It was during my teaching there, that I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by inspiring educators and leaders who motivated, coached, and encouraged my growth and the growth of my students. It was there that I found a deep love for curriculum and curriculum development. I am now back in Washington, DC. where I’ve assumed an out-of-the-classroom role with PBS Learning Media as an Educational Media Content Coordinator. As I continue to learn and grow from others, I look forward to "paying-it forward" by helping my fellow educators and their students achieve success.

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