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Curriculum


Refuge staff have designed a curriculum that supports classroom study topics, the science FOSS Kits, and state curriculum standards for Science (as well as Math, Social Studies, and Language Arts, where possible). Please check back often. Activities are in the state of development and will be added to this website as they are field-tested and incorporated into the curriculum.

Fall Curriculum
Winter Curriculum
Spring Curriculum
 

Partner School Curriculum Matrix: Year 1
Partner School Curriculum Matrix: Years 2-5

Remember: Literature Connections and pre-visit activity teaching materials are available for loan through your Partner Teacher or Partner School contact.



Fall Curriculum Activities 

Habitat: Who Needs It? (Kindergarten – 6th Grade)
Students will consider the differences between wild and domestic animals. Understanding these differences will help students to better understand the unique qualities of the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Students will then investigate and compare three refuge habitats looking for sources of food, water, shelter, and space in each.
Habitat:  Who Needs It? Journal Pages 

Nature Through the Seasons (Kindergarten – 1st Grade)
Students discover the science of phenology: the observation of nature's patterns and rhythms. Students record phenological events they observe during a hike on the refuge. They discover how scientists use phenology to track the impact of even small weather changes on the behavior of plants and animals. 
Nature Through the Seasons Journal Page 

Forests are More than Trees (Kindergarten-1st Grade)
Students will discover, through a role playing activity, why trees need water, sunlight and nutrients to survive. A hike through the forest will encourage students to look for examples of ways wildlife use the forest. While exploring, students will assemble a tree field guide to refer back to throughout the school year.

Forests are More than Trees Journal Page   

Monarch Tales (1st - 3rd Grade)
Students act out the life cycle of the monarch butterfly to understand the importance of milkweed to the survival of this insect. Students then participate in a milkweed mapping project on the refuge.
Monarch Tales Journal Page 

Birds, Beaks, and Adaptations (2nd-6th Grade)
Students will investigate bird adaptations first-hand by rotating through a series of feeding stations. Using a tool that simulates one style of bird beak, they will learn how adaptations connect birds to certain habitats and behaviors. Students will then take binoculars on a hike to observe other bird adaptations.

Prairie Insect Survey (2nd – 3rd Grade)
Students will be introduced to common insects and insect orders. Students will use their knowledge of insect orders to survey prairie insects found in the prairies on the Refuge.
Prairie Insect Survey Journal Page 

Seeds on the Go! (2nd – 3rd Grade)
By collecting, sorting and examining seeds, students will discover the variety of ways seeds travel and how these methods of seed dispersal benefit plants and wildlife.
Seeds on the Go! Journal Page  

Birding Basics (3rd-6th Grade)
Students will learn about birds and some techniques for bird watching and identification. Students will learn the proper way to use binoculars and will practice their birding skills on a hike at the Refuge.

Birding Basics Journal Page   

Wetland Safari (3rd-5th Grade)
Students will use binoculars and insect nets to discover plants and animals that make wetlands their home. During their investigations, students will uncover unique characteristics that make wetlands important to wildlife and people.

Migration Matters (4th – 5th Grade)
Students will learn how and why scientists collect data about individual bird species and bird migration patterns by participating in a bird migration game, a bird banding demonstration, and a binocular bird hike.
Migration Matters Journal Page  

Minnesota Biomes (4th - 5th Grade)
Students will learn about the study of Natural History and discover threats invasive species pose to Minnesota's native plant communities. Students will conduct a plant survey and explore the concept of diversity within one native plant community (prairie or woodland). Students will also discover invasive plant "control" methods used on the National Wildlife Refuge. 
Minnesota Biomes Journal Page 

Watershed Walk (4th-5th Grade)
Students explore the movement of water through the earth’s systems, explore the Minnesota River watershed, and participate in an interactive story to uncover how their actions may affect the local watershed. They discover how refuge managers lessen the negative impacts to people and wildlife by controlling water movement and maintaining wetlands.

Landforms (4th-6th Grade)
Exploring the Lower Minnesota River Valley, students will gain an understanding of how various land formations, moving water and human activities affect the watershed.

Compass Crusade (5th-6th Grade)
As students learn how to follow a designated course using a map and compass, they discover how biologists use orienteering in the process of studying plants and animals.

Rapids Lake Education and Visitor Center Course Maps 

Bloomington Education and Visitor Center Course Maps 

Tracking Wildlife (5th-6th Grade)
Students will investigate the often complex field of wildlife management using role-play scenarios, wildlife survey techniques and wildlife monitoring equipment.

Tracking Wildlife Journal Page  

White-tailed Deer: How Many Are There? (5th – 6th Grade)
Students will learn methods wildlife biologists use to estimate wildlife population size. Conducting a simulated white-tailed deer population survey and playing a wildlife survival game will help students to better understand the relationship between habitat and wildlife population size.
White-tailed Deer Journal Page

 



 

Winter Curriculum Activities 

Habitat: Who Needs It? (Kindergarten – 6th Grade)
Students will consider the differences between wild and domestic animals. Understanding these differences will help students to better understand the unique qualities of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Students will then investigate and compare three refuge habitats.
Habitat:  Who Needs It? Journal Pages 

Introduction to Snowshoeing (Kindergarten-6th Grade)
Students will discover the history and physics of snowshoes and experience, firsthand, how they work. With one of five snowshoe hike themes, students will explore the refuge winter landscape. There must be at least 6 inches of snow in order to use snowshoes.

Snowshoe Hiking Presentation for Grades K-3 (PDF) 

Snowshoe Hiking Presentation SCRIPT for Grades K-3 (PDF) 

Snowshoe Hiking Presentation for Grades 4-6 (PDF) 

Snowshoe Hiking Presentation SCRIPT for Grades 4-6 (PDF) 

Snowshoe Hiking Curriculum Support Materials (PDF) - all grades 

Insect Signs Snowshoe Hike Journal Page 

Snowshoe Challenge Alternate Journal Page 

Snowshoe Relay Challenge Journal Page 

Wildlife Signs Snowshoe Hike Journal Page 

Wildlife Walkers Snowshoe Hike Journal Page 

Winter Birds Snowshoe Hike Journal Page 

Winter Seeds Snowshoe Hike Journal Page

 

Who Goes There? (Kindergarten) 

Students will discover the history and physics of snowshoes and experience, firsthand, how they work. With one of five snowshoe hike themes, students will explore the refuge winter landscape. There must be at least 6 inches of snow in order to use snowshoes.

Wildlife Walkers (Kindergarten)
Students learn and then practice walking the 4 most common wildlife walking patterns. They discover how an animal’s body shape relates to its walking pattern. A trail hike will challenge students to locate and follow animals tracks an learn to recognize other common wildlife signs.
Wildlife Walkers Journal Page 

Nature Through the Seasons (Kindergarten – 1st Grade)
Students discover the science of phenology: the observation of nature's patterns and rhythms. Students record phenological events they observe during a hike on the refuge. They discover how scientists use phenology to track the impact of even small weather changes on the behavior of plants and animals.
Nature Through the Seasons Journal Page 

Forests are More than Trees (Kindergarten-1st Grade)
Students will discover, through a role playing activity, why trees need water, sunlight and nutrients to survive. A hike through the forest will encourage students to look for examples of ways wildlife use the forest. While exploring, students will assemble a tree field guide to refer back to throughout the school year.

Forests are More than Trees Journal Page 

Survivor: Minnesota Winter (Kindergarten-1st Grade)
Students will discover the history and physics of snowshoes and experience, firsthand, how they work. With one of five snowshoe hike themes, students will explore the refuge winter landscape. There must be at least 6 inches of snow in order to use snowshoes.

Survivor: Minnesota Winter Journal Page 

Birds, Beaks, and Adaptations (2nd-6th Grade)
Students will investigate bird adaptations first-hand by rotating through a series of feeding stations. Using a tool that simulates one style of bird beak, they will learn how adaptations connect birds to certain habitats and behaviors. Students will then take binoculars on a hike to observe other bird adaptations.

Wildlife Scene Investigation: WSI (2nd-3rd grade)
Students will learn techniques biologists use to better understand the wildlife found in the refuge. Using wildlife tracks, students will gather and interpret wildlife data through observation and measuring.

Wildlife Scene Investigation: WSI Journal Page
 

 Winter Tree Math (2nd-3rd Grade)
Students will use a variety of methods to measure the size of trees. The activities will help them to understand why scientists have established standardized measuring techniques for data collection. Through a hands-on activity, students will use forestry equipment and techniques used to collect tree data.

Winter Tree Math Journal Page 

Birding Basics (3rd-6th Grade)
Students will learn about birds and some techniques for bird watching and identification. Students will learn the proper way to use binoculars and will practice their birding skills on a hike at the Refuge.

Birding Basics Journal Page  

Winter Under a Microscope (4th-6th Grade)
Students will become field biologists using microscopes to examine microscopic characteristics of diverse winter macroscopic organisms.

 Winter Under a Microscope Journal Page  

Compass Crusade (5th-6th Grade)
As students learn how to follow a designated course using a map and compass, they discover how biologists use orienteering in the process of studying plants and animals.

Rapids Lake Education and Visitor Center Course Maps 

Bloomington Education and Visitor Center Course Maps 

Tracking Wildlife (5th-6th Grade)
Students will investigate the often complex field of wildlife management using role-play scenarios, wildlife survey techniques and wildlife monitoring equipment.

Tracking Wildlife Journal Page  

White-tailed Deer: How Many Are There? (5th – 6th Grade)
Students will learn methods wildlife biologists use to estimate wildlife population size. Conducting a simulated white-tailed deer population survey and playing a wildlife survival game will help students to better understand the relationship between habitat and wildlife population size.

White-tailed Deer Journal Page 



 

Spring Curriculum Activities  

Habitat: Who Needs It? (Kindergarten – 6th Grade)
Students will consider the differences between wild and domestic animals. Understanding these differences will help students to better understand the unique qualities of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Students will then investigate and compare three refuge habitats.
Habitat:  Who Needs It? Journal Pages 

Nature Through the Seasons (Kindergarten – 1st Grade)
Students discover the science of phenology: the observation of nature's patterns and rhythms. Students record phenological events they observe during a hike on the refuge. They discover how scientists use phenology to track the impact of even small weather changes on the behavior of plants and animals.
Nature Through the Seasons Journal Page 

Forests are More than Trees (Kindergarten-1st Grade)
Students will discover, through a role playing activity, why trees need water, sunlight and nutrients to survive. A hike through the forest will encourage students to look for examples of ways wildlife use the forest. While exploring, students will assemble a tree field guide to refer back to throughout the school year.

Forests are More than Trees Journal Page 

Birds, Beaks & Adaptations (2nd-6th Grade)
Students will investigate bird adaptations first-hand by rotating through a series of feeding stations. Using a tool that simulates one style of bird beak, they will learn how adaptations connect birds to certain habitats and behaviors. Students will then take binoculars on a hike to observe other bird adaptations.

Birds, Beaks & Adaptations Journal Page  

How Animals Communicate (2nd-3rd Grade)
Students learn how and why wildlife use sound, scent, and body language to communicate. Students will also discover how biologists use this knowledge of wildlife communication to help identify wildlife species they may not be able to see.

 How Animals Communicate Journal Page 

Pond Insect Investigation (2nd-3rd Grade)
Students will use dip nets to capture, and microscopes and aquatic insect keys to identify a variety of insects that make up the pond community. Students will discover many of the insects they find flying around the pond actually begin their lives in the water.

Pond Insect Investigation Journal Page

Water Canaries (3rd-5th Grade)
Through a field observation study of aquatic invertebrates, students will discover that life underwater provides scientists with clues to the health of a wetland.

Water Canaries Journal Page 

Wetland Safari (3rd-5th Grade)
Students will use binoculars and insect nets to discover plants and animals that make wetlands their home. During their investigations, students will uncover unique characteristics that make wetlands important to wildlife and people.

Wetland Safari Journal Page

Birding Basics (3rd-6th Grade)
Students will learn about birds and some techniques for bird watching and identification. Students will learn the proper way to use binoculars and will practice their birding skills on a hike at the Refuge.

Birding Basics Journal Page  

Migration Matters (4th – 5th Grade)
Students will learn how and why scientists collect data about individual bird species and bird migration patterns by participating in a bird migration game, a bird banding demonstration, and a binocular bird hike.
Migration Matters Journal Page 

Watershed Walk (4th-5th Grade)
Students explore the movement of water through the earth’s systems, explore the Minnesota River watershed, and participate in an interactive story to uncover how their actions may affect the local watershed. They discover how refuge managers lessen the negative impacts to people and wildlife by controlling water movement and maintaining wetlands.

Landforms (4th-6th Grade)
Exploring the Lower Minnesota River Valley, students will gain an understanding of how various land formations, moving water and human activities affect the watershed.

Compass Crusade (5th-6th Grade)
As students learn how to follow a designated course using a map and compass, they discover how biologists use orienteering in the process of studying plants and animals.

Rapids Lake Education and Visitor Center Course Maps 

Bloomington Education and Visitor Center Course Maps 

Tracking Wildlife (5th-6th Grade)
Students will investigate the often complex field of wildlife management using role-play scenarios, wildlife survey techniques and wildlife monitoring equipment.

Tracking Wildlife Journal Page  

Wetland Health (5th-6th Grade)
By studying aquatic invertebrates in the field, students will discover that what they find (or don’t find) can tell scientists a lot about the health of a wetland.

White-tailed Deer: How Many Are There? (5th – 6th Grade)
Students will learn methods wildlife biologists use to estimate wildlife population size. Conducting a simulated white-tailed deer population survey and playing a wildlife survival game will help students to better understand the relationship between habitat and wildlife population size.

White-tailed Deer Journal Page 

Last Updated: Apr 15, 2014
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