Just For Kids

Kids discovering pond life

You've found it! Below are some special learning lessons, exciting outdoor activities, and fun crafts to do at home or with friends

Hi kids! Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is an exciting place to explore the outdoors. Check out the list of suggested activities below to help you get outside at home or at your National Wildlife Refuge!  

Enjoying the Refuge

Nature Play Area at Old Cedar Avenue Bridge 

Come play outside!  Explore, imagine, and connect to the wonderful natural world that surrounds us.  This site provides different areas to play and connect to nature in your own backyard.  Learn more by clicking here.

Rapids Lake Forest Loop Trail Map 

Download our illustrated trail map of the Forest Loop Trail at our Rapids Lake Unit for a guided exploration of the forest. 

Nature journals and scavenger hunts 

Download and print the activities listed below for your adventure at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Enjoying the Outdoors at Home

Check out these distance learning activity packets for outdoor exploration at home, at the refuge or a neighborhood park. Click the headings to download the full packet.

Forests are More than Trees- for grades K-2 

This packet includes directions for making leaf rubbings, creating a tree picture with twigs, writing an adopt-a-tree journal and a forest scavenger hunt.  Pair it with the Rapids Lake Forest Loop Trail Map for a fun adventure on the refuge or complete all the activities at home. 

Video links for Forests are More than Trees:

Nature Through the Seasons- for grades K-2

This packet includes directions for making a nature journal, writing poetry, measuring wind speed, identifying clouds and a spring phenology scavenger hunt. Pair it with the Rapids Lake Forest Loop Trail Map for a fun adventure on the refuge or complete all the activities at home. 

Video links for Nature Through the Seasons:

Explore the world of insects around you with this learning packet. Learn about the parts of an insect and dive into the life cycle of monarch butterflies. Then make a bug jar or even a bug net to capture and observe wild insects.

Additional resources:  

Pond Insect Investigation- for grades 2-3

Use this learning packet to discover life in a local pond. Look closely at the creatures you find and record them in your nature journal. Also included is a pond life scavenger hunt. Don't forget shoes that can get muddy, have fun exploring! You can also try this experiment at the refuge at our Bass Ponds Trailhead in Bloomington, MN.

Video links for Pond Insect Investigation:

Wetland Connections- for grades 3-5

This packet includes activities to learn how wetlands filter rain water and hold flood waters and how creatures are connected in the wetland habitat through food chains. Want to visit a wetland, try our Bass Ponds Trailhead in Bloomington, MN.

Video Links for Wetland Connections:

Birding Basics- for grades 2-6

Learn how to identify birds and how to watch for birds in you neighborhood with this packet and additional resources. Use the Kid's Bird Guide to help you identify birds in your neighborhood and try solving the mysteries in the detective activity. Good luck gumshoe!
    Video links for Birding Basics:

    Pond Science- for grades 4-6

    This packet explores the ecology of wetlands and what the smallest creatures can tell us about the health of the wetland ecosystem. Try the pond study Scoop It Up! activity at your local pond or at our Bass Ponds Trailhead in Bloomington, MN to see what lives in the water. Enjoy the scavenger hunt and word search for even more wetland fun!

    Resources you'll need to complete the activities:

    Video Links for Pond Science:

    Young Angler- for grade 5

     This packet provides resources to help you get started fishing. Learn to assemble your pole and tie your hook on the line, then watch the virtual fishing trip for tips on how to have a successful day at the water. Don’t forget to pack snacks, wear your sunscreen and have a good time, young anglers!

    Video Links for Young Angler:

    Junior Duck Stamp Program

    Learn about wetlands habitat and waterfowl conservation for students in kindergarten through high school. The program guides students, using scientific and wildlife observation principles, to communicate visually what they have learned through an entry into the Junior Duck Stamp art contest.


    Día de los Muertos downloadable activities 

    Download these activities to celebrate día de los muertos, October 31 - November 2, 2020, and see how this celebration of family connects to nature and wildlife around us.


    Free Lending Programs 

    Check out a "Let's Go Outside" backpack (When visitor centers are open)

    They contain fun items like bug jars, binoculars, and a magnifying lens. Just ask a volunteer at the front desk and you can use it during your visit for FREE!  

    Snowshoe, hike or watch wildlife on the Refuge 

    Discover the refuge in every season. Both visitor centers have snowshoes and binoculars you can borrow for FREE that fit the entire family. Please note: we need a minimum of six inches of snow to check out snowshoes.  

    Click here to learn more about our lending programs.  Lending items must be checked in 30 minutes before posted closing time.