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Classroom Naturalist Visits

Looking for ways to bring the outside in? Nearby Nature can help!

The Basics


WHAT: Interactive programs of games, models, music, discussions, and stories

WHERE: At your school

WHO: Kids in grades K-5

WHEN: Flexible, subject to staff/volunteer availability

HOW LONG: 45 minutes

HOW MUCH: First visit $65 (one classroom), $35 per additional class on the same day, scholarships available

STAFF: Programs led by staff and trained volunteers

CONFIRMATION: Program date/s, scholarships, and prep instructions provided via email.

LEARNING GOALS: See how our programs help meet learning standards here.

See also information about costumed Kinder Critter visits!

School Visit Topics

*Note that “Get Up and Get Out” visits are designed specifically to get students active in the outdoors, combining the benefits of physical education with engaging science lessons.

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

In this lesson kids will learn about animal adaptations by checking out real skulls and/or pelts. They will also go outside and play an active game that features population dynamics and adaptations animals use to find the resources they need to survive. Students will finish the activity by designing creatures that have the adaptations highlighted in our outdoor game.

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.

Earth Art (recommended for grades 1-5)

Kids will get their hands on nature during this group art activity. Staff tell a story and then show 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 outdoors 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 “compliments and comments” about work done by peers.

*Go Seeds Go! A Get Up and Get Out Visit (recommended for grades 3-5)

In this indoor-outdoor activity, kids will learn about seed dispersal and how plants “go.” Kids will enjoy a multi-cultural tale about how seeds came to be and get a chance to examine a variety of real seeds. After an interactive discussion about how these sample seeds are dispersed in nature. kids will go outdoors and put their new knowledge to work in a seed-themed relay game.

Green 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)

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.

*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)

This visit will focus on the plant kingdom as kids work together to act out a living tree, play a game that demonstrates the life cycle of a tree, and act out the photosynthesis groove. We’ll also tell a tree tale before we conclude the visit.

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.

*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.

Who’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.