Teach Outdoors Weekly Workshops

Spring 2021

THANK YOU to our sponsor:

January Workshops

Fergus Falls Public Schools Logo
Prairie Wetlands Learning Center Logo
National Wildlife Refuge System Logo

Jan 6th: Animals in Winter

Presenter: Mona Davis, Fergus Falls Public Schools and Molly Stoddard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Prairie Wetlands Learning Center

Target Grade/Age of Students: Upper elementary but adaptable to all

Details: Search for evidence of 3 strategies animals use to survive winter right outside your door. You will need a notebook or journal, pencil, and outdoor clothing. MN science standards alignment will be provided.

Video Recording of the Presentation

The Chat from the presentation

Additional Resources Shared:

Two people standing in a prairie in the summer

Molly Stoddard and Mona Davis

Photo credit: Sue McDonald/USFWS

School Forest Program Logo

Jan 13: Math Outdoors

Presenter: Karen Harrison, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources School Forest Program

Target Grade/Age of Students: Elementary

Details: Connect students to the natural world using estimation and measurement. You’ll learn how to properly measure tree circumference using a standard unit of measurement.

Please come prepared with a pencil, paper, flexible measuring tape*, and tape (masking, painters, or duct tape will work). *If you don’t have a flexible measuring tape you can also use string, yarn, or ribbon with a standard ruler or measuring tape.

Video Recording of the Presentation

Standard Unit of Measurement Student Video

Standard Unit of Measurement Lesson and Student Worksheet

Additional Resources Shared:

A headshot of Karen Harrison standing in front of a forest

Karen Harrison

Jeffers Foundation Logo

Jan 20: Phenology

Presenter: David Grack, Jeffers Foundation

Target Grade/Age of Students: Elementary

Details: Provide opportunities for your students to develop as scientists as they observe, discuss, and document natural patterns outside (at home and/or at school) throughout the year. Multiple lessons will be experienced and shared that focus on science practices and literacy skills.

Video Recording of the Presentation

Additional Resources Shared:

David Grack

David Grack

Book cover for Groundhog Day! By Gail Gibbons

Jan 27th: Light and Shadows

Presenter: Sue Mohn, Naturalist and Elementary Educator

Target Grade/Age of Students: Elementary

Details: Let’s have some fun connecting science, math, and literary standards to a nature-based celebration of sunlight--Groundhog’s Day! We’ll explore connections with the new MN science standards and how to help learners plan and carry out their own investigations.

Video Recording of the Presentation

Additional Resources Shared:

County Soil Frost Graph

NSTA article about an Early Childhood Program's Shadow Exploration

Article explaining the term resistance (tolerance) to explain one way animal's adapt for winter.

Sue Mohn

Sue Mohn

February Workshops

Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center Logo

February 3rd: Lichens

Video Recording of the Presentation

Presenter: Joe Walewski, Director of Naturalist Training & Danielle Hefferan, Naturalist Training and Curriculum Coordinator

Target Grade/Age of Students: Elementary

Details: Learn a little about lichen biology and ecology while studying the lichens near you! We will also reflect on how to incorporate wild pedagogies within online learning.

Additional Resources:

Headshot of Joe in the Winter. He has strands of lichen hanging down from his next to extend his beard

Joe Walewski

Minnesota Project WET logo
Project learning tree logo
Project Wild Minnesota logo

February 10th: MN DNR

Teacher Resources Overview

Video Recording of the Presentation

Presenters from the Department of Natural Resources:

Benji Kohn, Minnesota Mentor Network Coordinator

Janine Kohn, Minnesota Project WET Coordinator

Briedi Scott, Minnesota Project WILD Coordinator

Laura Duffey, Minnesota Project Learning Tree Coordinator

Target Grade/Age of Students: PreK-College

Details: Join our panel discussion as the DNR shares an overview of some amazing resources that are available for formal and non-formal Minnesota educators.

The DNR administers an array of National Environmental Education Programs and offers training opportunities to use the materials with a variety of audiences.

Learn what educational materials are easily available for teachers to use outside and how to get trained in each program. The outdoor world awaits, let DNR assist you in learning and connecting your audiences to the outdoors!

Additional Resources:

Project WET

Project WILD

Project Learning Tree

MinnAqua Leaders Guide

FIN website

MN Conservation Volunteer Magazine/Teacher Lessons

MN Archery in the Schools

Arbor Month Teacher's Guide

Wildfire Prevention Teacher Resources

School Forest Program

Benji Kohn

Janine Kohn

Laura Duffey

Briedi Scott

Feb 17th: Ice Fishing

Video Recording of Presentation

Presenter: Karl Erickson and Matt Wilkie

Target Grade/Age of Students: Elementary & Secondary


Feb 24th: Mysteries in the Snow: Winter Animal Tracking

Video Recording of Presentation

Presenter: Larry Wade and Cindy Eyden

Target Grade/Age of Students: 2nd – 6th grade

Details: How to bring the outdoors into your classroom by creating live / virtual field trips, in which students observe animal signs and tracks, are able to ask questions and learn the joy of pondering nature's mysteries. Handouts included. Modifications to integrate to language arts, science, math will be discussed.


Winter Nature School, Week 1 – Mysteries in the Snow – Animal Tracking

Fall Nature School, Week 7 – Signs of Deer in Nature

Animal Track ID Cards

Find more animal tracking ideas on our Winter Resources Page

Larry Wade

Cindy Eyden

March Workshops

March 3rd: Now You See Me, Now You Don't (Observation Skills)

Video Recording of the Presentation

Presenter: Teresa Root and Pam Welisevich, Naturalists

Target Grade/Age of Students: Elementary & Middle School

Details: From a monarch’s bright orange wings to a fawn’s spotted coat, animals use color to survive. In this session you’ll learn how to incorporate activities that develop students’ observation skills as they learn how animals use color to disguise themselves, to warn others, and for attracting mates.

Additional Resources:

(This article on the PLT website talks about different kinds of camouflage and shows pictures to illustrate them.)

  • This is a link to the Project Wild game "Thicket." (It's another way to get kids actively hiding and seeking by using observation skills.)


Pam Welisevich

Teresa Root

March 10th: Immersive Virtual Learning: Creating an Interactive "Outdoor Classroom" Environment Online

Video Recording of the Presentation

Presenter: Jessie Barnett, Megan Schimek, Kristin Osiecki

Target Grade/Age of Students: Grades 5-12, and Higher Ed

Details: In this presentation, educators from The University of Minnesota Rochester and Pine Island High School (who partner annually to deliver health science mentorship courses with outdoor field experiences and curriculum) will share: 1) Resources, tips, and inspiration for creating an interactive virtual "outdoor classroom" learning hub using Bitmoji and 2) Practical examples of bringing nature-based learning into a shared online space.

Presenter: Caige Jambor, Schoolcraft Learning Community (Bemidji, MN)

Target Grade/Age of Students: Grades K-8

Details: Join me in this presentation where we take a look at research and traditions, both modern and ancient, on the benefits and joys of being in nature. Follow along as I show you how we here at Schoolcraft Learning Community close out each day in the forest with our Sit Spots. We practice using our senses to investigate and observe our own wonders and notices in the natural world around us, without ever leaving out Sit Spot, and of course, the joy of sharing our findings with the group in our closing circle, whether you are a scientist or a storyteller.

Caige Jambor

March 24th: YES! Outdoor Project Overview

Video Recording of the Presentation

Presenter: Deb Groebner, Regional Coordinator for Youth Eco Solutions (YES!)

Target Grade/Age of Students: YES! is for Students in grades 7-12 and their coaches (teachers)

Details: Learn about Youth Eco Solutions (YES!), which empowers youth to create solutions to today’s ecological challenges through hands-on projects with real-world impacts on environmental issues and opportunities important to their community. It is a statewide program operated from Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in Spicer in partnership with Ney Nature Center in Henderson. During this workshop, educators will be introduced to YES! and learn about a few successful outdoor projects completed by students on YES! teams.

March 31st: Maple Syruping

Video Recording of Presentation

Presenter: Travis Zimmerman, Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post

Target Grade/Age of Students: Elementary & Middle School


April Workshops

April 7th: Climate Change for Kids (and Adults)

Recording of Presentation

Presenter: Josh Leonard, Belwin Outdoor Science, St. Paul Public Schools

Target Grade/Age of Students: Grades 3-5, 7-10, 12

Description: Can we see climate change? Let's start with seeing changes in climate, or changes in *microclimates* In other words, let's compare sunny versus shady parts of an outside area close to you - a schoolyard, backyard, park or forest. Participants will compare temperatures and/or plant growth in shaded vs. sunny (north vs. south-facing) areas around a building or tree. We will use dandelions as a model, but it isn't necessary to have dandelions to participate.


Jamboard: https://jamboard.google.com/d/1pPyplhZ3AHHzPmLt1tocZVGZyeKpYeeGDUsAun17huQ/viewer?f=0

Dandelion Lesson: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14kpwJO5qdiCobBAxPTEsyRLl1iVpozISgtwatuls3o4/edit?usp=sharing

John Latimer (jlatimer@kaxe.org) presents Phenology programs to schools throughout MN.

Journey North Tulip Test Gardens: https://journeynorth.org/tm/tulips/AboutSpring.html

Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt - From Nature Seeker Workbook by Larry Wade https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dBetm-zZuxJxsso16pAgjLVZyOv5DcUS/view?usp=sharing

Josh Leonard

April 14th: Great Lakes Bio Blitz

Recording of Presentation

Presenter: Marte Kitson, Minnesota Sea Grant

Target Grade/Age of Students: Elementary & Middle School

Description: How to Participate in the Great Lakes Bioblitz using iNaturalist. What is the Great Lakes Bioblitz? A bioblitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many wild, living things as possible in a specific area over a short period of time. This bioblitz focuses on the Canadian provinces and the states that have coastline on the Great Lakes. It begins on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2021

and ends four weeks later on Thursday, May 20, 2021.


How to join the Bioblitz

Another iNaturalist Project: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/biocubes


prairiemoon.com - Range map for native plants

April 21st: Introduction to Birding

Recording of Presentation

Presenter: David Grack, Jeffers Foundation

Target Grade/Age of Students: Elementary & Middle School


Bird Detectives: Day 1

Bird Detectives: Identifying Bird Characteristics

Bird Feeding Station Observation Form

Birding Using Sense of Hearing

David Grack

David Grack

April 28th: Poetry and Wonder Wander

Recording of Presentation

Presenter: Anna Jennerjohn and Elizabeth Stretch, UofM, College of Education & Human Development

Target Grade/Age of Students: Grades 2-6

Description: Help students develop their innate sense of wonder about the world around them, and support them in asking and answering questions. We will explore the “Wonder Wander” technique in which students make observations and write questions about their nearby nature. Then we will make further literacy/science connections by creating Haikus from the wonderings. Students can connect to nature right outside their window whether they are learning from home or at school. Please bring a notebook and something to write with and, if possible, a view out the window.


Form for creating Sensory Poems (Shared by Larry Wade)

Anna Jennerjohn

Elizabeth Stretch

May Workshops

May 5: Creating Rain and Pollinator Gardens

Recording of Presentation

Copy of Powerpoint

Inspired by this presentation? Share your garden photos & future projects using #UrbanRoots

Presenter: May Vang, Conservation Program Manager and David Woods, Conservation Program Director

Target Grade/Age of Students: Elementary, Junior High, High School

Description: Have you thought about planting a pollinator garden or rain garden with your students but don’t know where to start? Join us to learn about Urban Roots, a non-profit organization located on the East Side of St. Paul that empowers youth through nature, healthy food, and community. We will be sharing how we involve our youth in the process of designing, installing, and maintaining these gardens as well as how we incorporate educational activities in these outdoor spaces.


Example of a rain garden guide

Watershed district grants

Capitol Region

Ramsey Washington

Mississippi Watershed (Minneapolis)

Bee Squad - Pollinator Plant ideas

Xerces Society - Lots of pollinator information

May 12: Nature Journaling

Recording of Presentation

Presenter: Cristina Palmisano, Emma Chapman, Ashley Smith

Target Grade/Age of Students: All Grade Levels

Description: Explore, wonder, and discover through the incredibly versatile tool of nature journaling. This workshop will cover the purpose and benefits of nature journaling, some of the basic skills needed, and ways to apply the tool to several different subject areas. Please come prepared with paper and pen or pencil and an object (preferably from nature) that you think is neat.


How to Teach Nature Journaling (Website with resources)

How To Teach Nature Journaling by John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren

Emma Chapman

Cristina Palmisano

Ashley Smith

May 19: Monarch Butterflies

Recording of Presentation

Presenter: Katie-Lyn Bunney

Target Grade/Age of Students: All Grade Levels

Description: Monarch butterflies are one of the most recognizable and charismatic insects in North America. Their life cycle and ecology, coupled with their inherent magnetism, make them an intriguing and simple organism to slot into science education and to use as a topic across subject areas for all age levels and abilities. This presentation will provide some tips, tools, and ideas for how to incorporate monarchs and other pollinators into your outdoor education and help conserve monarchs and their migration.


MJV website

MJV Store

Webinar Archive


MJV's FAQ on the ESA listing decision for monarchs

Monarch Conservation Education Page

Monarch Citizen/Community Science:

Pollinator Habitat Guides:

Curriculum Resources:

Miles For Monarchs If you are interested in hosting your own event, contact Ella Phillips at ephillips@monarchjointventure.org

May 26: Get Ready to Start Your New School Year with Outdoor Learning!

Video Recording of Presentation

Presenter: Anna Dutke & Friends Bring your stories, favorite tips & tricks, top items to have in your backpack/wagon, etc.

Target Grade/Age of Students: Any Grade Level


During this session we will share some tips & tricks for things that you can work on this summer to start your school year with Outdoor Learning in the Fall. Topics will include these & more: Outdoor seating, transporting materials, favorite resources (learn what's on the Teach Outdoors! MN website), and creating a safety plan.

If you have been teaching outdoors or working to support teachers, bring your favorite Tips & Tricks to share!


Presentation Slides

MnECO Outdoor Learning Toolkit (complete form to get access): Comprehensive list of things to consider/prepare for outdoor learning

Be Inspired:

Research (Help make the case)

Summer Offerings by Partner Organizations

Please share your professional development opportunities with TeachOutdoorsMinnesota@gmail.com so we can feature it on our website.

Compass to Nature: Teaching in the Outdoor Classroom

Hosted by US Fish & Wildlife

Dates: June 9 - July 21, 2021

Session 1: June 9 Session 2: June 16 Session 3: June 23 Session 4: June 30 Session 5: July 7 Session 6: July 14 Session 7: July 21

All sessions are 3 - 5 PM EST/ 2 - 4 PM CST. This is a series, please register for all events.


View the flyer HERE

Jeffers Foundation: Summer Workshops

Visit the website for more information & to register