Outdoor and Environmental Education: Resource Roundup
Looking for resources for teaching about the environment, examples of environmental action projects, or ways to take learning outside? You’ve come to the right place. Explore our list of curated resources for these green approaches to integrated studies.
Benefits of Environmental Education
- “Science and the Environment,” from Integrated Studies Research Review, by Vanessa Vega (2013)
Vega highlights the benefits associated with specific practices in environment-based education, an approach to integrated studies that has proven to be effective.
- Teaching and the Environmental Crisis: Resources and Models, by Mark Phillips (2013)
Phillips emphasizes the importance of involving students in actions that help to preserve the environment and looks at resources and models available for engaging students in meaningful lessons about a wide range of environmental crises.
- Cultivate Social and Emotional Skills with Ecoliteracy, by Carolie Sly (2012)
Sly, of the Center for Ecoliteracy, identifies five vital life practices that integrate emotional, social and ecological literacy.
- Adolescents, the Wilderness, and Schools, by Mark Phillips (2012)
Phillips advocates for the huge role that nature and wilderness can play in giving kids, and especially teens, a much-needed perspective of their place in the world.
- Why Celebrate Earth Day? by Jason Flom (2010)
Flom looks into the reasons behind the environmental awareness holiday.
Classroom Activities and Videos
- Earth Day 2014: Lesson Plans, Reading Lists, and Classroom Ideas, by Matt Davis (2014)
To help teachers incorporate Earth Day into the classroom, Davis has curated some of the best classroom resources from around the Web.
- Five-Minute Film Festival: Celebrate World Water Day, by Amy Erin Borovoy (2013)
How do you teach your students about water? VideoAmy has created this list of videos to make learning about environmental issues, water conservation, and the biology of water fun.
- Five-Minute Film Festival: Earth Day, by Amy Erin Borovoy (2012)
Earth Day is April 22nd, but you can teach your students about sustainability and environmental stewardship all year round. It doesn't take much for kids to feel like they can make a difference for our planet, inspiring them to be life-long environmentalists.
- Think Green Guide, by Edutopia Staff (2011)
Looking for ideas and resources to inspire environmental awareness and action in your classroom? Download this practical guide, filled with inspiring ideas and classroom-tested resources, to help you plan green projects that take student learning deeper.
Environmental Action Project Ideas
- For Earth Day and Beyond: Focus on Environmental Action Projects, by Suzie Boss (2014)
Boss shares exciting projects to teach students about Earth Day and how to care for the environment.
- Environmental Education Through Environmental Action, by Philippe Cousteau (2013)
Explorer, social entrepreneur, and environmental advocate Cousteau suggests that, with young people already aware of the environmental crisis, the next step is youth-driven environmental action.
- Upcycle Night: A Middle School PBL Project, by Aaron Kaio (2013)
Kaio shares his students' adventure in upcycling as he details a project that started with trash and recycling, and elevated to a community crafting event.
- Stand Up for Alaska: Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, by Edutopia Staff (2007)
Members of this high school environmental education and leadership program created a presentation about climate change, gathered more than 5,000 signatures from fellow students, and went to Washington, DC, to persuade one of their senators to take action on global warming.
- Wetland Watchers: Kids Care for Their Environment, by Edutopia Staff (2004)
Through this nationally recognized service-learning project in Louisiana, students have become stewards of the area's fragile wetlands.
Getting Outdoors and Learning From Nature
- Expansive Classrooms: Taking Learning Outside, by Erin Nicolardi (2014)
Two Canadian experiential leadership programs usher students into the great outdoors to pique their academic curiosity while enhancing their physical and mental health.
- Outdoor Mindfulness Exercises for Earth Day, by Patrick Cook Deegan (2014)
Deegan, a mindfulness mentor and consultant, teaches students about Earth Day by bringing them outside and engaging their senses. He shares six easy steps to help your class appreciate their natural surroundings.
- 7 iPad Apps for Outdoor Adventures, by Monica Burns (2014)
Burns proves that technology has a place in the great outdoors with her list of iPad apps to help kids identify birds and trees, navigate with maps, tie knots, and explore national parks.
- Five-Minute Film Festival: Teaching in a Winter Wonderland, by Amy Erin Borovoy (2013)
For the coldest and shortest month, VideoAmy has pulled together a collection of great videos for winter-themed lessons across all disciplines.
- Five Tips for Introducing Outdoor Education to Your Class, by Andrea Mills (2009)
Follow these easy-to-implement suggestions about how to go outside with learning.
- Get Out: Educators Need to Nurture an Interest in Nature, by Mark Nichol (2008)
If future generations are going to preserve the planet, they need to spend more time outdoors -- with your help.
School Gardens and Green Schools
- From The Modern Farm To The Sustainable Table, by Heather Calabro and Gregg Kaneko (2014)
Follow a ninth grade interdisciplinary PBL class from an on-site sustainability study through designing hydroponic gardens, growing food, and an Iron Chef cook-off.
- How to Grow an Engaging Learning Environment, by Suzie Boss (2014)
As the school garden movement continues to grow, Boss suggests it's worth taking a closer look at the strategies that are yielding positive results.
- Five-Minute Film Festival: School Gardens, by Amy Erin Borovoy (2012)
This video playlist goes outdoors to check out school gardens around the country. School gardens provide great green lessons about cooperation, sustainability, and stewardship of the earth.
- The Edible Schoolyard Yields Seed-to-Table Learning, by Edutopia Staff (2004)
This campus gardening project has done more than teach students about the fundamentals of organic gardening. It's taught life lessons about interdependence, caring for the environment, and the value of hard work. Thinking of doing an edible schoolyard for your school or class? Check out Edutopia’s Edible Schoolyards pinboard on Pinterest for some great resources to point you in the right direction!
- 5 Steps to a Greener School, by Deborah Moore (2013)
Moore, co-founder of Green Schools Initiative, offers eco-friendly suggestions and resources for a greener, healthier back-to-school.
- Act and Inspire: The Dual Roles of Schools in Environmental Protection, by Anne O’Brien (2012)
O'Brien proposes ways schools can lighten their environment footprints. This post from Suzie Boss describes other things schools can do: “Earth Day Challenge: Making Teacher Innovation Sustainable.”
- Reading, Writing, Recycling: Oregon School Makes the Planet a Better Place, by Sara Bernard (2007)
At Clackamas High School, green ideals infuse the curricula, the building, and, most importantly, the students.
Additional Resources on the Web
Blogs and Articles
- “3 Ways to Get Outside This Summer with Mobile Devices,” from Edudemic (2014)
- “Apps That Challenge Kids to Solve Environmental Issues,” from KQED’s MindShift (2014)
- “Get Outside! 10 Fresh Air Favorites!" from Nerdy Book Club (2014)
- “22 Earth Day Resources,” from KQED Education (2014)
- “Garden-Based Learning: A Return to Simpler Food in K-12 Schools,” from Education Week (2013)
- “In the Digital Age, How to Get Students Excited About Going Outdoors,” from KQED’s Mindshift (2013)
- “You Can Get Your Students Outside and Still Meet Your State Standards,” from Children & Nature Network (2013)
- “The Environment as a Compelling Portal for PBL," from the Buck Institute for Education (2012)
Organizations, Tools, and Other Resources
- Instructional Tools and Strategies, from Center for Ecoliteracy
- K-12 Toolkit, from the Earth Day Network
- Resources, from The Edible Schoolyard Project
- Environmental Literacy Framework and Publications, from North American Association for Environmental Education
- How Do I Green My School? from Green Schools Initiative
- A Roadmap to Implementing Green Cleaning in Districts and Schools, from National Association of State Boards of Education
- Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- National Environmental Education Week, from National Environmental Education Foundation
- Nature Rocks, from The Nature Conservancy
- Natural Heroes Project Guide: 6 Multimedia Project-Based Learning Plans Aligned to Common Core, from KRCB North Bay Public Media