U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Sacramento Fish & Wildlife OfficeServing the people, conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of California

A Unit Of The Pacific Southwest Region

3 Tips for Making Fall Wild

October 17, 2017

Photo Credit: Veronica Davison

Students across the country are back in school after a fun-filled summer, but the transition from warm to cooler temperatures does not have to be a deterrent to getting students outside. There are creative activities educators can incorporate into the curriculum that allow students to be active and have fun while they learn. The three tips below complement science curricula and allow students to get hands-on with nature during the fall or any time of year.

1. Science Night
Anyone who interacts with children knows that there is a lot of competition for their attention. Every year, Phoebe Hearst Elementary School in Sacramento, California engages students and their caregivers in activities focusing on science and math at “Science Night.” The evening is filled with interactive demonstrations and informational booths with educational games and give-aways that keep students busy for a couple of hours as they make their way around the event.

Photo of Valary talking to kids while holding tortoise

"The kids really relate to that because it involves physical activity, reading, critical thinking, and the challenges wildlife are facing." Valary Bloom is a wildlife biologist in the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. Photo credit: Veronica Davison, USFWS.

One of the most popular booths is the endangered species booth. Big attractions include a confiscated lion pelt and a large tortoise shell. Equally popular is the Monarch Butterfly Migration Challenge. The migration challenge draws upon the students’ experience planting a native plant garden and fosters conversations about what plants survived and which did not.

2. Native Plant Garden
Native plant gardens can serve as an open space area at schools that create habitat for wildlife like birds and other pollinators. The gardens give students the opportunity to observe firsthand how the plants are pollinated and which plants are the most appealing to pollinators. They also learn about the challenges of managing invasive species. In addition to creating habitat for wildlife, the space can double as a quiet reading area during the school day.

3. Public Lands Visit
National Wildlife Refuges and National Parks provide excellent opportunities to educate students about nature. Guided tours, photography, and scavenger hunts are just a few activities that can make a wildlife refuge visit exciting. Each year, thousands of students from elementary school through college visit refuges and parks to enhance what they are learning in language arts, history, art, and science. For students in the fourth grade, there is a special treat: free passes for them and their families as part of the Every Kid in a Park program. To help educators plan the visit, activity guides are available for free online and include an activity focused on citizen science.

Photo of Aden pulling weeds

"I like to get the bugs that aren't supposed to be in the garden and I pull the weeds. I do it because I like wildlife, it's just cool. There's more species of fish, reptiles, and mammals that still haven't been discovered." Aden Lawrence is a student at Phoebe Hearst Elementary School. Photo credit: Veronica Davison, USFWS.

Photo of Jada touching a lion pelt

Jada Dixon gets up close and personal with a lion pelt at the Endangered Species booth during Science Night. Photo credit: Veronica Davison, USFWS.

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Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office Biologist Valary Bloom and her son Braydon educate students about confiscated items at the Science Night Endangered Species booth. Photo credit: Veronica Davison, USFWS.

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Kimora Shimasaki takes on the Monarch Migration Challenge with her father and learns about the monarch butterfly’s journey from the U.S. to Mexico. Photo credit: Veronica Davison, USFWS.

by Veronica Davison / SFWO External Affairs

Last updated: October 22, 2019