Whether you are home-schooling or looking for resources 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.
Ant Cities by Arthur Durros
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.
Field Study Fun
Children investigate a field study plot to observe plant and animal interactions over time
Show Me Wildlife
Hummingbird Builds Tiny Nest
In My Backyard by Valerie Giogas
https://youtu.be/vy-VQUQMUEIChildren learn what fish need to live and practice fishing indoors
Click here to download.
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni
(Courtesy of Rusty Garrison)
Growing Up WILD, p. 10; Ages 3-7
- Have students color a selection of the animal cards found here.
- Message some of your family and friends asking them to send a video with their impressions of each of the animals.
- Sort the responses into three categories: a smiley face, a neutral face, and a frowny face. Make a Venn diagram or a bar graph using sticky notes. Be sure to include your own feelings about the animals!
- Talk with your child about why they feel the way they do about certain animals. What do they know about the animal, and what would they like to find out?
- Spend some time learning about the animal through books, pictures, stories, and videos. Are there any animals they have changed their mind about?
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
Is there a solution for this deer crossing dilemma?
- Provide your child with the Migration Barriers Student Page, which is based on an actual situation in Idaho. Read the information and discuss and evaluate options they think are available to resolve the situation in the best possible manner.
- Have your child present and explain their recommendations. They may need to do research to prepare for their presentation.
- describe the situation (or briefly review)
- provide background information
- identify and describe factors involved in the issue
- identify and describe alternative solutions
- state their recommended action, with their reasons for the recommendations
High School Resources
Back from the Brink
What drives a species ot the edge of extinction?
- Choose a featured animal and provide your child with the Issue Analysis Sheet.
- Read the wildlife background information sheet complete the Issue Analysis Sheet.
- Discuss their species and its recovery. Are there any additional options that might be considered to resolve these conflicts?
- Have your child prepare a media brief about their animal. It can be a short "infomercial", formal presentation, brochure, article, or webpage. Make sure they emphasize the issues and conflicts involved int eh animal's recovery and include different options to mitigate the conflict.
- If time allows, complete the process for each of the species, or have different students choose different species. Compare and contrast among the species using these guiding questions:
- What changes or events had to occur before species recover projects could begin?
- How did the decline of the species affect people? The environment?
- What issues or potential conflicts are involved in the recovery of the animal? Who are the different players?
- Are there reoccuring strategies in resolving conflicts?
- How important is it that local individuals and groups understand the natural history of the species and its role in the ecosystem?
Raindrops and Ranges
Putting precipitation, vegetation, and wildlife on the map
Note: this activity requires the use of Google Earth. For turtorials on how to use Google Earth, please visit https://www.fishwildlife.org/projectwild/step-stem-and-wild-work/raindrops-and-ranges
- Look at pictures of landscapes from tow very different climates, such as an old rowth forest landscape and a desert landscape. What do they see in the photos? List features taht are biotic (living - such as plants and animals) and abiotic (nonliving - such as terrain and water features). What are the differences and similarities?
- Have your child define "climate" (long-term averages and variations in weather measured over a period of several decades). What factors make up the climate of an area? (temperature, precipitation, humidity, air pressure, sunshine or cloudiness, and winds). What factors might account for different cliamtes in the world? (elevation, topography, latitude, proximity to the ocean). How does climate affect what plants and animals live in an ara? What animals might live in the photos shown? Discuss the idea that all things, living and nonliving, are connected.
- Your child will analyze different maps of their state to better understand the relationship between climate, vegetation, and wildlife. They will combine data onto a digital map by referencing 1) an annual precipitation map, 2) an annual temperature map, 3) a vegetation map, and 4) maps of wildlife ranges. They will then look for predictable relationships - correlations - between these living and nonliving habitat components.
- Using either a physical copy of a map or a digital copy, begin adding data points to the digital map from locations around the state. A step-by-step tutorial can be foundhere. Annual precipitation and temperatures can be found through online databases such as the National Climatic Data Center. State climate offices may be able to provide maps with this information as well. If using paper maps, trace the data onto the hard copy.
- Have your child separate teh statewide precipitation into four rainfall-level groups, such as 0-10 cm, 10.1-20 cm, 20.1-30 cm, greater than 30 cm. These categories may need to be adjusted depending on the typical rainfall amounts in your state.
- Assign a color for each level of rainfall. Referencing the average annual precipitation data from your selected source, ask them to make "pin points" that show the annual precipitation at different locations across the state. Have them include the elevation at each location where they add a pin point. Divide the state into areas according to the different levels of rainfall. Using the colors designated for each level of rainfall, have students add polygons, or draw shaded shapes, on the map to represent the amount of precipitation in each area.
- Repeat this process with temperature and vegetation using the same method. For vegetation data, try the U.S. Geological Survey's Gap Analysis Program Land Cover Data Viewer.
- Once all the data is on the map, look for similarities in shapes between teh rainfall levels and vegetation. What rainfall level fits what vegetation type? How much rainfall is needed for grassland, chaparral, or pine forest, for example? Factors such as topography, soil type, land use by humans may affect the vegetation in the area.
- Obtain information about the habitat needs of various animals in the state/region. If possible, obtain range maps of those species. Include animals such as crows, English sparrows, and starlings that thrive in most locations, as well as animals that are restricted to particular habitat types such as spotted owls. paririe rattlesnakes, and flying squirrels. Create a layer on the map that show those habitat areas. Are there any locations where an animal's required habitat is present but the animal itself is not?
- Discuss all finding and correlations. How might vegetation maps change if precipitation increased or decreased? How might animal species be affected if average temperatures increase over time?
For more resources, STEM and career connections, visit https://www.fishwildlife.org/projectwild/step-stem-and-wild-work/raindrops-and-ranges
Compute and graph turkey population data over time to distinguish between exponential and linear growth and to examine how limiting factors affect population growth
- Discuss types of population growth with students. Why is it important for wildlife biologists to study population growth trends. Draw a linear population growth curve and an exponential growth curve. What is the difference? Which growth curve is best represented by wildlife? What factors may limit wildlife population growth?
- Tell you child that turkeys were extirpated (locally extinct) from Wyming and that biologists released 46 turkeys back in 1935. Ask you child to hypothesize what happened to the population. Be sure they explain the basis for their reasoning.
- Next, model the population growth of the turkeys released in Wyoming using formulas for both linear and exponential growth. To perform the computations, each set of data has specific assumptions, as births, deaths, immigration, and emigration can impact population models. Distribute Turkey Populatin Data Sheet 1, 2, and 3 for your child to complete.
- Once they have completed the the computations and graphs, review the discussion questions.
For STEM resources and career connections, visit https://www.fishwildlife.org/projectwild/step-stem-and-wild-work/turkey-tallies
Wild Bill's Fate
How does legislation affect wildlife?
- Brainstorm ways laws could affect wildlife. Do your children know of any laws that are intended to protect certain species of wildlife, provide for wildlife habitat, or regulate interactions between wildlife and people?
- Look for legislation that is pending in your state that might impact wildlife. They could also contact their local representatives or wildlife organizations to see if there is any pending legislation. One peice of legislation they could look at is the Recovering America's Wildlife Act.
- Compile a list of bills under consideration, with a short paragraph of information about each, including the iddues behind each bill. If possible, summarize the supporting or opposing arguments for each bill.
- Discuss each bill. Are there any lingering questions about the bill? If so, write down who to contact about those questions and make a plan to contact that representative, agency, non-profit, or organization.
- At the national level, other bills to look at include:
- HR 925, America's Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act
- S1081 America's Great Ourdoor Act
- S2302 America's Transportation Infrastructure Act
Nebraska Game and Parks resources
Youth On Demand Webinars by Texas Wildlife Association
Tracks, Scat, and Sign Activities by Maryland DNR
At Home Learning Resources from PA DCNR
Natural and Historical Education Resources for Home by Michigan DNR
Lessons, Field Trips, Maps and More by North Carolina Environmental Education
Quick Family Activities by New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Learn about Wildlife at Home or at School by Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Wildlife on WiFi by Pennsylvania Game Commission