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Classroom Naturalists

Nearby Nature hosts classroom naturalist visits for grades K-5 on a variety of topics. Each 45-minute interactive, age-appropriate program includes a unique mix of games, models, music, discussions and stories. Flexible programming schedules are available to meet your classroom's needs.

Below is a description of each available program, as well as details about group size, program space needs, and recommended grade levels. Activities can be modified as needed to be age-appropriate for your group. Note that “Get Up and Get Out” visits are designed specifically to get your students active in the outdoors, combining the benefits of physical education with engaging science lessons. To see how our classroom visit programs match up with current school standards, click here.

Each visit will be led by a trained Nearby Nature staff person or volunteer. All activities are hands-on or game-like and will involve interactive discussion as well as action. Teachers should plan to stay in the classroom for all activities and may be asked to assist as needed.

Classroom visits cost $60 for the first visit (for one classroom) and $30 per class for additional visits on the same day. Multiple visits on one day must be back-to-back, with a short time for prep between programs. Topics and specific dates/times are subject to staff/volunteer availability.

Marble drops of "water" flow down the rivers to the sea!To arrange a visit, please call 541-687-9699 or click here. Please provide your topic choice, number of kids in your classroom, grade, and general days/times that are good for presentations. If you have a specific date in mind, let us know that as well. Scholarship assistance may be available. Please inquire when you contact us about visiting.


School Visit Topics

*Adaptation Antics – A Get Up and Get Out Visit (recommended for grades 1-5)

In this lesson kids will go outdoors and play active games that illustrate adaptations useful for predators and prey. With older students we will play a game that simulates population ecology while younger kids will act out the frog’s life cycle using our Frog Hop rap. We’ll wind down with a story before students return to their regular routines.


RainbowEarth Art (recommended for grades 1-5)

Kids will get their hands on nature during this art activity. Staff will introduce the activity by telling a story and showing photos of nature art created by professional as well as amateur artists. Working in small groups, kids will create their own earth art designs using a medley of natural materials (driftwood, cones, sticks, stones, leaves, etc.). This activity can happen either in an outdoor play area or indoors on a large floor space. At the end of the activity, there will be an “art show” where each group shares its creation with the class. Through this activity, kids will work on cooperation skills, learn about abstract vs. concrete designs, and practice offering “complements and comments” about work done by peers.


*Mountain Melt - A Get Up and Get Out Visit (recommended for grades 1-5)

In this active relay-style group lesson, kids will go outdoors to act out the water cycle from our Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean using ping-pong balls as water drops. Students will learn how water moves through our environment by cycling ping-pong water drops through the roles of snow, river, ocean, and clouds. We’ll wind down with a story before students return to their regular routines.


Nature Tales (recommended for grades K-5)

During this school visit, a seasoned Nearby Nature storyteller will tell students two-three multi-cultural tales with a nature theme. Possible themes include Kalapuya Tales, Cooperation in Nature, Tall Tree Tales, and Creatures of the Night. Other themes are possible; if you have a request, let us know.


*The Power of Plants - A Get Up and Get Out Visit (recommended for grades 1-5)Flowers in the Garden

This visit will focus on the plant kingdom as kids work together to act out a living tree, play a game that models the relationship between plants and pollinators, and learn the Photosynthesis Grove. We’ll wind down with a story before students return to their regular routines.


Race for the Pond (recommended for grades 1-5)

In this game-style activity, kids will hop their Pacific treefrogs (plastic “jumping” frogs) safely to the center of a pretend pond. Along the way, they will encounter a variety of dangerous obstacles including predators, pollution, and people. Also along the way, they will find safe places to rest as well as bugs to eat. Kids will learn to appreciate the many “limiting factors” that impact the lives of aquatic wild animals. For this activity, the class will be divided into two-three groups.


River Walk (recommended for grades 1-5)

In this activity, children will go on a pretend “river walk.” The activity is a bit like a cake walk—as water-themed music plays, children will walk in a circle, stepping on laminated pictures of riparian plants and animals as well as elements of the water cycle (rain, river, mountains, clouds, the sea, etc.). When the music stops, a riddle-like clue will be given and one child will discover that he/she is standing on the answer to the riddle. Through this game, kids will learn about the water cycle, different aquatic food chains, and riparian plant and animal life. The class will play this game as one group.


Who's Polluting the WaterWho’s Polluting the River (recommended for grades 1-5)

In this group activity, children will take turns “polluting” an imaginary Willamette River with a variety of materials that have dirtied the water over time. Kids will each dump a pretend pollutant (a non-toxic household material) into a pretend river (water in a plastic tub) while the activity leader tells a scripted story describing the river’s 20 million year history. Students will discover we all play a role in polluting rivers and we can all take actions to help keep them clean. The class will do this activity as one group.


Dress for the Water (recommended for grades 3-5)

In this activity, students will “dress” different aquatic creatures (role-played by the kids) for life in or near the water using household items and clothing (representing various adaptations). Students will learn about the many different adaptations animals have that prepare them for life in or near the water. For this activity, larger classes may be divided into two groups to play two simultaneous games.


Green the SceneGreen the Scene (recommended for grades 3-5)

In this group activity, children will help re-model a pretend grass and pavement play area into an earth-friendly schoolyard. With conservation in mind, they will decide what earth-friendly elements to include in their landscape: gardens, compost bins, recycling bins, trees, rain barrels, etc. The elements of the landscape will be physical objects (a tablecloth lawn, model vegetation, plastic containers, etc.) that the kids can manipulate and arrange in their own unique design. Through this activity, kids will learn about how people can create healthy landscapes that conserve water and other resources, attract beneficial wildlife, and reduce the need for harmful chemicals. The class will do this activity as one group.


Model Watersheds (recommended for grades 3-5)Model Watersheds

In this activity, children will visit three stations that each feature a different watershed model. They will make “crumpled paper” watersheds to foster an understanding of how water moves from peaks to valleys. They will experiment with a marble maze to see how pollution in one part of a watershed impacts the whole watershed. They will also use a clay watershed model to examine the role of wetlands in regulating runoff in a watershed. For this activity, the class will be divided into three groups.


*Run, Salmon, Run! - A Get Up and Get Out Visit (recommended for grades 3-5)

If you’re raising salmon in your classroom this is the visit for you! This lesson features a lively game that simulates the life cycle of Pacific salmon. Kids will take on the roles of salmon, predators, fisherman, and the physical features of the environment. We’ll wind down with a discussion of limiting factors that impact salmon populations before returning to the classroom.



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