Project WILD Parent Resources
Whether you are home-schooling or looking for resrouces to keep your kids learning all year, Project WILD has resources for you and your learners.
Note: the resources provided below are abbreviated Project WILD activities. To receive full training, please contact your state coordinator.
Ants on Parade
Children go outside to observe ant behavior and learn about insect characteristics.
- Gather some potential ant food items (ripe fruit, bread, moldy leaves, raisins, etc.). Ask them which they think the ants will like the best and why.
- Test it! Gather a paper plate and divide it into fourths. Place one food item in each section and set it out where ants would find it.
- Observe what happens. Where do ants go the most? Talk about the ant behavior. Use a magnifying glass or get up close to see what the ant looks like. How many body parts? What are noticible features?
- Follow up with the following ideas: Draw a picture of the ants. Use craft materials to make an ant. Have an ant snack (celery with nut butter and raisins). Walk like an ant.
Spider Web Wonders
Children Learn About Spiders and Spider Webs
- Have a discussion about spiders. What do they look like? How did they behave? Where did you find them?
- Go outside and look for spiders and spider webs. Take pictures or draw sketches.
- When you get back, read a book about spiders.
- Play the Spider Web Match game
- Use tape to create a web between the legs of a chair or table. Throw cotton balls at the web and see what gets stuck, and what gets through.
Children learn about and observe earthworms
- After a rain, or if you have a garden, look for worms. Bring a damp paper towel with you on your search, and gently (and with clean hands) place the worms on the paper towel.
- Use a magnifying glass to get a closer look. Draw or take pictures of the worms.
- Guide their observations by asking: What color is the worm? How many pinky lengths is it? What is it doing? What does it feel like?
- Be sure to place the worms back in the soil where you found them.
Video: Worms are Wonderful
Field Study Fun
Advantages and importance of bird adaptations
- Birds have a variety of physical adaptations - including characteristics of beaks, feet, legs, wings, and coloration. Those adaptations have evolved so that the birds is better suited to its particular environment and lifestyle.
- Discuss those variations and look at pictures of real birds. Look for pictures of birds that primarily live in water, forests, mountains or deserts. Look for raptors, migratory birds, birds endemic to your state.
- Design your own bird! Decide on the following:
- where the bird will live
- what it will eat
- how it moves
- its gender or sex, and
- how it raises its young
- Using that list of adaptations, create a bird by drawing or sculpting.
- Have the student write a short report that includes the name of the bird and its food sources, habitat, and lifestyle. Also include the list of adaptations, and advantages provided by those adaptations.
What's that Habitat
Sort out essential components for survival.
- Place the following items in a bag or pillowcase: water bottle to represent water, food items, small toy house to represent shelter, piece of paper with the word "space" written on it to represent an area to live in, a book, pair of sunglasses, toy phone, box of crayons or markers, toy car (to represent a real car), watch or clock, stuffed animal, camera, other appropriate items that represent "wants" and "needs"
- Have a discussion about how there are many things in our lives that we rely on to make us happy and healthy, Some are "wants", or things we do not need to survive, and other things are "needs", or things that are essential for our survival. Think of some things they need to live each day and write them down. Next, think of things they do not need but taht make their lives more fun or convenient. List those, too.
- Have your child pull out an item from the bag and determine if it is a "want" or "need". Make two piles and place the items in the appropriate pile. Make sure they explain WHY they put each item in the pile they chose. Some items may be challenging. If so, create a third pile that represents both a want and a need. Hint: use two hula hoops and then overlap them to create a Venn diagram.
- Once all the items have been placed in a pile, ask if they se any items that could be moved from one pile to the other and why.
- Discuss why all the "want" items are truly "wants". For example, books are important to learn new things, but you can also learn from talking to others, or asking teachers or parents. Books are nice, but not necessary for survival.
- Now, ask your child to imagine any animal and think about that animal's needs. What does that animal need to survive? Food? Water? Shelter? Space? Something else?
- Reinforce that all animals have the same basic needs - food, water, shelter, space. Additionally, all these things must be in the proper arrangement, which is called "habitat".
- Ask your child: Could you live in a home where the bathroom was 4 miles in one direction, the kitchen was 12 miles in another direction, and bedroom was 9 miles in yet another direction? No! Could they survive without water? Could they survive without food? Could they survive without space in which to run and live and grow? Not for long! Humans can survive in confined conditions for certain periods of time, but without enough space to obtain resources and maintain a helathy distance from others, human can become sick. Both humans and animals must have all these things to survive.
Museum Search for Wildlife
What do Leonardo da Vinci, and photographers have in common? Wildlife as inspiration for art!
- Before you take a virtual trip to a museum, discuss different kinds of art that people have created throughout human history, including cave drawings, pottery, baskets, costumes, paintings, sculptures, drawings, dances, photography, literature, and music. Ask your child what might inspire art.
- Take a virtual tour of a museum. Ask your child to find examples of wildlife represented in art. What kinds of wildlife do they see? What kinds of art? Use the Museum Search for Wildlife Chart to record what you see. Did they see the same animal more than once? How was it represented each time?
- Note: domestic animals are also depicted frequently in art. It may be useful to distinguish between wild and domesticated animals.
- Discuss they ways wildlife was portrayed, and what that might say about the intet, feelings, or ideas held by the artist. What was the relationship between wildlife and people during different time periods? What were your clues?
See more resources and information about careers at https://www.fishwildlife.org/projectwild/step-stem-and-wild-work/museum-search-wildlife
Power of a Song
Connect to nature through music.
- Ask your child to listen to the lyrics of popular songwriters in contemporary music. Look for artists who include lyrics with an environmental message.
- Listen to the lyrics. If possible, obtain written versions of the lyrics. Identify the particular issues being written about in these songs. You may need ot find out more about the issues in order to attempt to better understand the perspective of the artist as conveyed in the lyrics.
- Have your child write their own environmentally themed songs. Take them outside where it may be easier to brainstorm nature-centered lyrics.
- Create a video to go with the song.
Additional STEM and career resources can be found at https://www.fishwildlife.org/projectwild/step-stem-and-wild-work/power-song
How do naturalists use words to record nature?
- Using a journal that your child has made, or a pre-made notebook, locate a comfortable area outside.
- Ask your child to sit quietly, listening carefully for any sounds. Note: This is a great opportunity for you to model what you want your child to do. Ask your child to look with "soft eyes" or eyes taht do not focus specifically on any one thing, but broadly sense the environment. "Hard eyes" are good for looking closely at a squirrel running up a tree. Encourage your child to try both.
- After five or ten minutes, talk with them about their observations. Read an excerpt from your writing, or one from another naturalist, such as John Muir.
- Give your child more time to become acquainted with journaling. Try to make time for this practice on a regular basis - 3-5 times a week.
- In addition to being a record of impressions, feelings, and observations, a journal can become a log of important data to refer to later. It can reflect changes in ecosystems, vegetative types, and animal populations as well as attitudes about things.
For more information on STEM resources and career opportunites related to this activity, visit https://www.fishwildlife.org/projectwild/step-stem-and-wild-work/wild-words
Middle School Learners
Map That Habitat
What wild animals have a habitat at our study site?
- Before going outside to investigate the area, ask your child if wildlife lives in the area. Waht kinds of animals might live there? Why these animals and not others? Provide your child with a base map of the area, or a paper, pencil, and clipboard. Give your child a compass and explain how it works. Together, answer questions such as which wall the door, windows, etc. are on: north, south, east, or west?
- Go outside and look at the map and surroundings to determine their current location. Using the compass, have them identify which way is north and draw a compass rose on their map.
- Survey the area to determine which species of wildlife might live there. What evidence is there? Tracks, scat, feathers, chewed plants, etc. Mark any observations on the map.
- Once back inside, research one of the animals. Their research should include what the animal eats, how it gets water, where it lives, and its habitat requirements.
- Now, go back outside with the maps and locate and record sources of food, water, and shelter for the animal. Why is the arrangement of habitat components important?
- Allow students to amend their maps by creating legends and scales.
For more resources and STEM and career connections, visit https://www.fishwildlife.org/projectwild/step-stem-and-wild-work/map-habitat
Urban Nature Search
What's wild in the city?
- Copy and cut out each of theWhat's Wild in Your City? Activity Cards.
- Ask your child what wildlife they've observed in the city. Define wildlife and habitate, and discuss the diversity of wildlife.
- Provide your child with one of the activity cards, a pencil and a notebook, journal, or camera. Make sure they understand that wildife includes insects, spiders, and other invertebrates as well as birds, fish, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians. Encourage them to look for indirect evidence such as tracks, webs, droppings, feathers, and nests. They may find evidence at different heights, or layers, of habitat. Let them know they can identify wildlife species without knowing the animal's formal name. For instance, they can describe a black bird with a short tail, or a long tail.
- Once you return from your search, discuss what you saw. What characteristic life forms did the children find? Which organisms might they find in a rural setting? Do they think the behavior of the animals would be the same in both locations? Why or why not?
- Allow your children time to research some of the animals they found.
How many miles per gallon does a desert bighorn sheep get?
- Provide your children with the Water Mileage and Water Mileage Challenge student pages, which contain background information about desert bighorn sheep and gopher tortoises.
- Review the background information and have them calculate the answers to the questions on the student pages.
- Predict various complications that could develop if there were only 1/2 the amount of water calculated in Question 6.
- Discuss the importance of adaptations to wildlife and other animals, as you use the example of the bighorn sheep in the southwestern United States and the gopher tortoise in the southeast.
For more resources and STEM and career connections, visit https://www.fishwildlife.org/projectwild/step-stem-and-wild-work/water-mileage