Taking the STING out of doing the lesson planning "groundwork" for your Outdoor Education Activities @ The Mojave River Campus Wildlands

So you are planning a visit to the Mojave River Wildlands and need to prepare some lesson plans that you can do before, during and after your students "outdoor" experience. Assuming that you, the classroom teacher, can...

  • Identify which course or grade-level curricular standards and benchmarks that are best met through an creating effective outdoor experiences, and can
  • Orchestrate a unit plan to accomplish the task(s)

...The following list of lesson plans and resources that can be found on-line have been prepared to take the sting out of your unit planning tasks.

Select any of the highlighted selections below to find links to topics like...

Many of the lesson plans, projects, and games cited below have been developed by outdoor educators for use in different regions across North America so some might need a little California desert "contextualizing". Please e-mail me your changes @ mhuffine@lcer.org and they will be posted here for others across the Mojave Desert to use during their visit to the Mojave River Wildlands

Tips for Taking Children Outdoors...

o Taking Children on Outdoor Field Trips


o Safe, Smart, Survival... Survival Tips for Kids on Fieldtrips




"Book End" Lesson Plans... good classroom activities that can be used before or after an outdoor activity.

Take A Stand Students physically take a stand on a controversial issue, understand and respect diversity of opinions, and practice their listening skills. (5th and up)


The Lorax Activity The focus of this activity is to introduce and understand the concept of sustainable development by using ideas found in The LORAX.


My Ton of Trash Here's an activity to do on or before America Recycles Day is in November. Needs to be adapted for California. (4th grade and up) (Math)


Happy Arbor Day (All grades)


Why do leaves change colors? (All grades)


Leaf Printing (All grades)


Declaration of Interdependence Students read the Suzuki Foundation's Declaration of Interdependence, and discuss its meaning and implications. (4th and up)


How does Species Become Extinct? Students experientially discover the hardship of habitat loss, and learn the six main reasons species go extinct. (4th and up)


The U.S Fish and Wildlife.. hopes that the materials at this site will help you and your students to learn more about endangered and threatened species.


Shady Acres - sounds like a nice place, doesn’t it? This simulation activity is modeled after a controversial land development process that actually took place in the Town of Canmore, Alberta, Canada in 1996 - but it is reminiscent of land development and land use issues that occur throughout North America. In this activity, students work through the process of municipal government to decide on the future of Shady Acres; they decide whether to preserve the Shady Acres natural area, an untouched forest that provides shade, peace, and homes for animals; or to create the Shady Acres subdivision, providing much-needed economic development and affordable housing for humans. Or perhaps they’ll find a way to compromise ... (5th and up)


Changing the Land ... Students will 1) compare historical aerial photographs with current aerial photographs and determine what factors influenced land use decisions; 2) evaluate the impacts of different land uses on an area; 3) consider future changes in land use and the affect on a community. (A land-use activity for grades 6 and up)


Bio-What?! ... Overheads and a lesson plan that illustrate six reasons to protect biodiversity. A good classroom lesson on which to build an outdoor educational activity on! (4th and up)


Biodiversity, A Pizza Supreme Activity! Using pizza slices and the toppings, students will be able to create scenarios that are consistent with situations in a real biologically diverse (or not so diverse) environment.


Wetland Study ... A delightful way to study real wetland organisms in the classroom. Indoor activities include making some homemade pond sampling equipment, Animal Tags, Food Chains and Webs, and Pond-in-the-classroom. (3rd and up)http://www.cpawscalgary.org/education/pdf/pond-in-a-classroom.pdf

At Home in a Marsh ... (a poem, MS and up) http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/edu/activities/marshhome.phtml

Quote Poker A thought-inspiring activity in which students trade quotes, read them aloud, and reflect on their meaning. (MS and up) (Language Arts)


Who Are They and What Did They Do? A study of environmentalists that changed the ways entire cultures looked at their role in the environment. (4th and up) (Language Arts)

"A Hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."
--Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth


Get Acquainted Here is a fun quiz that has been used with students and teachers to test the group’s ecological literacy!


Draw Your Own Rock Art (3rd grade and up)


Pottery Reconstruction Puzzle (3rd grade and up)


Create a Journal

"If you jot down every silly thought that pops into your mind, you will soon find out everything you most seriously believe." --Unknown

Most naturalists keep a journal to record their observations. Through history, these journals have proved invaluable in reconstructing the habitats and environments of a time gone by, before modern civilization. It is still important today that the naturalist continue to document what they see and how they see it. Keeping a journal is a good way to jog your memory when you come across a species or event in nature that is new to you. Writing down every detail that you can think of so that you can recall it at a later date for comparison or research. There remain many mysteries in the natural world and the amateur naturalist who is practiced at journaling makes sometimes-great discoveries.


Develop a Culture A culture is a way of describing how a group of people live and work together. Culture includes the foods you eat, clothes you wear, rules of how you get along with each other, and how you use and understand the world surrounding you. Different parts of the world have many different cultures.


Conduct a Fish Survey A good activity to do in conjunction with Trout in the Classroom. (4th grade and up) (Math)



Outdoor Education Lesson Plans ...

Five Minute Field Trips is designed for teachers and classes wishing to do simple and enjoyable outdoor environmental activities on their school campus. This is a "greatest hits" compilation of classic activities! (All Grades)


Square of Life.... Studies in Local and Global Environments is an Internet-based collaborative project in which students investigate their local environment and share that information with other students from around the country and the world. Participants generally:

  • Identify living and non-living things in their school yards.
  • Share their findings with other participating classes.
  • Look for similarities and differences in the reported data.
  • Prepare a final report or presentation based on their findings.

Take a Dip... Join students around the world in this Environmental Study and team up to test fresh water. Between September & November each year, you and your students can join this collaborative project, comparing the water quality of your local river, stream, lake or pond with other fresh water sources around the world. The focus of the project is:

  • To assess the quality of water based on physical characteristics and chemical substances.
  • Identify and compare organisms in a water sample with other participating classes and assess the quality of water based on macroscopic life found in the water.
  • To look for relationships, trends, similarities, and differences among the data collected by all project participants.
  • To register for this projects vist http://www.k12science.org/curriculum/dipproj2/en/ ASAP

Pond Study Lesson Plan No lesson plan is 'perfect' - but this tried and true way lesson will help you get the most out of a pond study. You’ll visit a wetland of your choice and discuss water safety, practice sampling techniques and hands-on science, draw the pond community, and talk about ways in which we can help protect these precious places. (3rd and up) http://www.cpawscalgary.org/education/pdf/pond-study-lesson-plan.pdf

Studying Wetland Plants Two methods of surveying plants are discussed, line transects and quadrants, as well as preservation and identification of common wetland plants. (MS and up)


Hey! What's this? Observing Wetland Habitats (1st grade and up) (Language Arts)


Identification and Stream Health Field Trip This is an activity designed as a field trip for students to an area stream. It will introduce students to a number of species of aquatic invertebrates that act as indicator species of stream health. The "bugs" to be identified have different habitat requirements and are separated into three groups according to their level of pollution tolerance. Some "bugs" are more likely to be found in polluted streams, and others are found primarily in healthy streams. The health of the stream will then be determined by the "bugs" that are found by the students. (4th grade and up)


Aquatic Critter Search (4th grade and up)


Trees and Air Quality (4th grade and up)


How to Plant a Tree (All grades) http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/caer/ce/eek/teacher/plnttre.htm

Tracks! (4th grade and up)


Follow that footprint, paw print, hoof print...

Follow that footprint, paw print, hoof print...Have you ever tracked someone’s footprints? It can be kind of a mystery figuring out where something was going and what it was doing. By looking carefully at animal tracks you can learn more about their comings and goings too. (All grades)


Sugaring for Moths (All grades)



Projects... low cost and environmentally friendly lesson plan extensions, field tools, and inquiry generators to do before during or after your trip to the Mojave River Wildlands.

Making Seed Balls What are seed Balls? Seed balls are marble-sized balls formed by combining dry red clay, compost, native wildflower and/or grass seeds and water. They are rolled by hand, dried, ready to be sewn outside to establish or revegetate an area with native plants. Why not just hand-broadcast the seed or dig a garden? Good question! These are still acceptable ways to introduce seeds in some areas, however the seed ball functions to protect the seeds from heat, being blown away, or eaten by birds, insects or other animals until there is sufficient rain to melt the clay and allow the seeds to germinate. They are particularly helpful in windy arid environments. Making seed balls is easy and it's fun. (3rd and up)


How to make a plant press? (3rd and up)


Preserving Flowers (3rd grade and up)


How to Plant a Tree (All grades) http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/caer/ce/eek/teacher/plnttre.htm

Leaf Printing (All grades)


Making a recycled bird feeder. (All grades)


Making Plaster Casts (All grades)


Worm: They are hungry for work! Composting with worms. (All Grades)


Make a toad house. (All grades)


Build and underwater scope! (All grades)


Jumping frog origami... (All grades)


How to make your own paper. (All grades)


Build a bird blind. (All grades with a little help)




Web of Life Game Materials for an adaptation to this game for the Mojave River Wildlands are available at the Mojave River Campus.


The Stream Game ~A Water Ecology Game The purpose of this game is to acquaint children between the ages of 5 and 12 with fresh water ecosystems along the Mojave River (originally developed for Texas Rivers) and the animals that inhabit them. This game is on a large scale. Children actually walk along a path called a stream, as they play and learn what can happen to an aquatic population over time. Materials need to be developed for this game.


Outdoor Nature Games


Animal Tracking Game





Reading a Compass



Helpful and Eclectic Outdoor Education Links

o http://www.cpawscalgary.org/education/

o Texas Outdoor Education Teacher Tool Kit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/edu/teacher.phtml

o Environmental Education for Kids (Eek!) for Teachers http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/caer/ce/eek/teacher/activity.htm


Developing Outdoor Education Curriculum

A Park Service approach to developing curriculum based outdoor education programs - http://www.nps.gov/idp/interp/370/mod370.pdf