Maine Audubon’s mission is to conserve Maine’s wildlife and wildlife habitat by engaging people in education, conservation, and action. Today, that mission seems more important than ever. Our educators, scientists, advocates, and naturalists are committed to keeping you connected to the natural world as we deal with the coronavirus situation together. Check in every weekday on our Connections page for family activities, parent/teacher tips, backyard birding, nature exploration at our sanctuaries, and live events.
Hello teachers and parents of elementary school students! Welcome to Maine Audubon’s new weekly Thursday Connections, a place for us to share resources and activities for elementary learners. I’m Catherine Griset, Maine Audubon’s K-2 Youth Programs Manager and K-5 Day Camp Director. I am so lucky to work with amazing students during the school year and incredible campers during the summer. I joined Maine Audubon’s education team at the start of 2019 and have loved getting to know the teachers, parents, and students in our local community.
I am missing the experience of leading field trips and classroom visits for many of Maine’s elementary students! This time of year we’d be out together listening for freshly-returned birds signing their arrival, looking for tracks and signs of busy mammals, and studying the many, many changes that come along with spring.
During a time when we aren’t able to get together in this way, and when school itself now looks very different, I’m excited to use this blog space to act as a resource for parents and teachers of elementary school students, as well as the students themselves. Through connection to and study of wildlife, so many science learning outcomes can be achieved!
I’ll be posting here every Thursday over the next several weeks, sharing videos, nature observation prompts, and activities for your students to try themselves! Each week we’ll dig into the themes we’d normally cover in a Gilsland Farm field trip this time of year. Some examples include:
- Migrating birds
- Animal life cycles
- Spring changes in the forest, meadow, and ponds
- and much more!
Each weekly unit will be presented in a multi-part way. I’ll be sharing videos and resources to kick off interest in the theme, including text and guidance for adults to steer learning, and, most importantly, offering activities that learners can tackle in a variety of settings—on their own, with a parent, inside, outside in a yard, from front steps, or in a natural space.
As we’re all tasked with teaching and learning in an entirely new way right now, I welcome feedback about what you’d like to see here on Thursdays! We are excited to continue engaging students in standards-based science learning, focused on Maine Audubon’s mission of wildlife and habitat conservation.
Here are a few of my favorite resources and links to explore this week:
- Nature Moments — short, topical videos produced by current Maine Audubon board member and former Bowdoin College professor, Nat Wheelwright
- “Naturally Curious” book, website, and blog by Mary Holland — a wonderful month-by-month guide to the phenology (the study of seasonal changes in animals and plants) of Northern New England
- Maine Audubon’s Educator Resource Center — a description of our approach and a list of our favorite community science projects (using our own nature explorations to contribute important data to scientists studying climate change and many other important topics)
To get you started, here’s something to do that will set you up well for next week’s activities. Our first full module will focus on Observation: the close, careful study of something in order to gain information or better understand it. We’ll be learning the how and why together, but for now, where or what might you easily observe every week this spring? Scout out a spot or a few spots at your home. It could be a room full of houseplants or pets and a window with a view outdoors. It could also be a spot in your own backyard, on your front steps, or a natural area nearby without many people around that you and your student can safely visit together. Wherever you choose, consider and discuss what you might see as spring continues to arrive in earnest!