"The objective is to teach the student to see the land, to understand what he sees, and enjoy what he understands." Aldo Leopold
The PWLC offers several half-day series of environmental education programs specifically designed for each preschool-5th grade level which help support the current Minnesota Academic Standards in Science and Language Arts. We strongly encourage schools to participate in each of these field investigations developed for Fall, Spring, and Winter. Students gain a better understanding of the Prairie Pothole Region when they experience the seasonal changes and program development by participating in each field investigation of the grade level series. For a full day experience, classes can also stay for an afternoon Nature Journaling session after completing the seasonal field investigation for their grade level. Continue to scroll down to the next two sections for listings by grade level and by season.
The PWLC also offers seasonal environmental education programs for 6th-8th grade. Please scroll down to the bottom of this page for more information.
As a residential facility, the PWLC provides overnight trips as well for 5th grade and older, with lodging in our modern dormitory. For details, please call 218-998-4481.
(To view a listing by season, please scroll down to the bottom of this page.)
PRE-SCHOOL - EXPLORATION SERIES
Title: Prairie Wetlands Explorers
Description: Students walk in small groups, each group carrying a backpack, map, and star pocket. They look for three special items on the map (prairie, wetlands, and oak savannah). When they find these items, they receive an explorer star to put in their star pocket. Along the way, they use their senses to explore what they find (such as water, plants, soil, wind, sun). Students discuss why maps are important at the PWLC and take home a PWLC trail map.
Title: Birds of the Prairie Wetlands
KINDERGARTEN - OBSERVATION SERIES
1ST GRADE – ANIMALS AND HABITATS SERIES
2ND GRADE – ANIMAL LIFE SERIES
3RD GRADE – PLANT AND ANIMAL BEHAVIOR SERIES
4TH GRADE – ECOLOGY SERIES
5TH GRADE – NATURALIST SERIES
K-6th GRADE – NATURE JOURNALING
Title: Nature Journaling (K-6)
Description: After a mini-lesson on nature journaling, students participate in a field activity, investigation, or lab, recording their observations, data, and discoveries in their field journals. Students share their results and reflect upon their discoveries, then determine how they will use their material in order to share their experience with others. Suitable for novice and experienced journalists alike.
Nature journaling can be added as a second program for the afternoon for K-6 grades that have completed a morning program at the PWLC. Field activitiies for nature journaling include:
1. Invertebrates - Collect, examine, describe, measure, sketch, and release prairie OR wetland “bugs” -- choose one habitat2. Small things - Examine one meter square of prairie; record discoveries with numbers, words, maps, sketches.
3. Plants (May through September) - Closely examine, describe, sketch, measure, identify a prairie and/or a wetland plant – choose one habitat or both.4. Nature journaling sampler - Use several tools to aid in prairie wetland journaling such as hand lens, cloud chart, view finder, compass, thermometer, and binoculars.5. Weather Trek - Practice using a thermometer, ruler or meter stick; record data and sky observations.6. Patterns in Nature - Look for numbers, letters, and shapes in the prairie and wetlands.
Fall Field Investigations Preschool Prairie Wetlands Explorers
Kindergarten Prairie Sensory Walk
1st Grade Habitat Basics2nd Grade Monarch Tagging3rd Grade Prairie Seed Harvesting
4th Grade Prairie Insects5th Grade Favorites in the Prairie
K-5th Grades Nature Journaling
Winter Field InvestigationsPreschool Nature Detectives
Kindergarten Wetland Wonders1st Grade Animal Habitats2nd Grade Wildlife Mysteries3rd Grade Restoring the Prairie4th Grade Snowshoeing Investigation
5th Grade Seton WatchK-5th Grades Nature Journaling
Spring Field Investigations Preschool Birds of the Prairie Wetlands
Kindergarten Wetlands Awareness
1st Grade Animal Families2nd Grade Amazing Animals3rd Grade Bird Investigation4th Grade Prairie Wetlands Watersheds PowerPoint for Fourth Grade Prairie Wetlands Watersheds
5th Grade The Sense of WonderK-5th Grades Nature Journaling
For 6th-8th grades, the PWLC uses the Lessons in a Land Ethic curriculum developed by the Leopold Education Project through Pheasants Forever. In total, it consists of 21 lesson plans designed to use with the essays found in Aldo Leopold’s conservation classic, A Sand County Almanac. For our day use visits, we use only three of those 21 lessons, a different lesson each season for 6th-8th graders, and we have adapted it for our use with field journals. The Lessons in a Land Ethic curriculum guide currently is available for purchase from the Aldo Leopold Foundation at http://www.aldoleopold.org/programs/lep.shtml. It is not necessary to purchase the curriculum in order to bring 6th-8th graders to the PWLC, however.
Duration: 1-1/2 hours (with option to hike further south – 2 hours)
Essay: If I Were the Wind
Description: Students observe evidence of wind in different habitats. They read the excerpt outside
and estimate wind speed using the Beaufort scale. They also measure wind speed and direction using a wind meter and compass. While hiking and exploring, they make a wind map, labeling the windiest places and the least windy places at the PWLC, obstacles to wind, and wind pathways. In reflection, students discuss ways wind helps and hinders wildlife. Tying back to Leopold’s essay, students complete the statement in their journals, If I were the wind…
Duration: 1-1/2 hours
Description: Students observe black-capped chickadees and other winter residents. They sketch
chickadees, count visits to a feeder, search for banded ones, describe their
vocalizations, map windy and protected places and loud noises, and make a loud noise and record any response. Students record the chickadees’ 3 commandments as described by Leopold. PWLC staff also show students bird banding equipment and discuss chickadees’ adaptations for surviving winter weather. In reflection, they write about what humans have in common with chickadees in winter and their own three commandments for surviving this extreme season.
Duration: 1-1/2 hours (with option to hike further south – 2 hours)
Essay: Bur Oak
Description: Students read the excerpt in the Mallard Oaks. They observe, sketch, and describe a bur
oak in their field journals. Then they move to prairie habitat and read another Leopold except about a prairie forb where it is blooming and record similar data about that plant and ecosystem such as measurements, textures, scents, species, and thoughts on growth and survival. In reflection students write about which plant they would rather be, a bur oak or a prairie forb, and why.
Contact the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Center's Office Assistant at 218-998-4481 for more information.
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Northern leopard frogs need both prairies and wetlands to complete their life cycle. Listen for their snoring calls in spring breeding ponds. Watch for their long leaps when hiking the trails in late summer.