Learn About Nature
With growing, strong evidence of the benefits of outdoor and nature-based learning for kids, nature-based learning is a growing phenomenon both in classrooms and homeschools. Nature can help a student feel more attentive, less stressed, more self-disciplined, more engaged, more interested, and more physically active and fit. In fact, just learning about nature can help kids feel more connected to it, which can help foster pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors that ideally all people would have throughout life.
Let's Get Started.
The following video clips, narrated by Matthew McConaughey, are available for educational use to connect students to Texas’s unique environments, inspire awe in the natural beauty of our state, and lead to actions that support conservation. Each video includes 4 TEKS and NGSS-aligned lessons for K-12 teachers and students. Lessons include directions for the teacher, student documents in English and Spanish, and English and Spanish PowerPoint files. The lessons are aligned with the 2020/2021 revised Science TEKS. Connections to Social Studies TEKS and the Next Generation Science Standards are also made
DEEP IN THE HEART FILM
REGION OF TEXAS: Great Plains
ECOREGIONS OF TEXAS: High Plains and Rolling Plains
VIEWING TIP: We recommend showing this video from 2:39-6:36 for younger students. Preview the clip ahead of time and show the parts of the video that are appropriate for your students.
DEEP IN THE HEART FILM
ECOSYSTEMS OF THE TEXAS GULF COAST
REGION OF TEXAS: Coastal Plains
ECOREGIONS OF TEXAS: Gulf Prairies & Marshes
DEEP IN THE HEART FILM
REGION OF TEXAS: Mountains & Basins
ECOREGIONS OF TEXAS: Trans-Pecos
DEEP IN THE HEART FILM
REGION OF TEXAS: Great Plains
ECOREGIONS OF TEXAS: Edwards Plateau
Our friend, Dakota, a young lady who is very interested in conservation, sent this link to us to share with you. Thanks, Dakota. Hope your conservation project is a success.
By Derek Hales
It only takes a few small changes to your daily life to make a big impact on how much water you use. Water conservation is important because we need water to live.
If we don’t take care of our water supply, we won’t have enough clean water to drink, cook with, or bathe in. Plants and animals can also suffer when they don’t have clean water. Learning about how to protect and save water is important, and it can also be fun!
Conserve Water With Aqua
Watch a video about a girl named Aqua and how she learns about saving water. Then, you can print out a coloring book or comic book for more fun.
25 Ways You Can Be a Water Hero
National Geographic Kids offers 25 tips for how you can help to conserve water and protect the planet.
Water Conservation Activity Book
Learn about the water cycle and water conservation while having fun with the word scrambles, mazes, and quizzes in this activity book.
Water Tip Tank Game
Test your memory by flipping over the cards to match the pairs. For every pair you find, you’ll learn a helpful tip about using water wisely.
Water Conservation Workbook
This workbook is filled with activities and games about water and ways that we can use less of it.
WaterSense for Kids
If you’re thirsty for knowledge, the EPA can help with this page of facts, activities, and games.
Water Use Calculator
You can use this handy calculator to find out the amount of water your family uses. The calculator will add up the number of gallons you use on a daily basis.
Drop in the Bucket
This worksheet can help you think about how much water is used all over the world and where that water comes from.
Facts About Water
This brochure has a lot of fun tips about water that you may not have heard before.
This matching game covers all kinds of conservation, not just water conservation. Find the matching pictures as fast as you can: The clock is running!
Teaching Conservation in America
In this article, former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar talks about getting kids involved in learning more about conservation.
How Much Water Do You Use at Home?
Did you know that you use a lot of water in your everyday life? Enter your answers about things you do every day and you can learn how much water you use.
Saving Water Outdoors
This page has tips and tricks for saving water while gardening.
Water Conservation Tips
The state of Indiana offers helpful tips for how to conserve water all around your house.
Ten Tips for Outdoor Water Conservation
This page has a bunch of fun and helpful tips that you and your family can use while trying to save water inside and outside of your home.
Stop Water Waste
Even small actions can help to save water, like turning off the sink while you’re brushing your teeth.
Earth Savers: Water Conservation Tips for Kids
This page lists some fun and easy ways to conserve water and keep your town’s water from getting polluted.
Create your own model of an aquifer out of sweet treats to learn about where your water comes from. When you’re done, you can eat the results!
Play a Game to Learn About Water Conservation
This fun board game was created by a Girl Scout troop leader to teach her troop about water use. It’s a great way to learn while having fun!
Water Conservation Activities for Kids
Try these fun activities you can do at home to learn about the importance of water conservation while obtaining life-long habits that are good for the environment.
Each of these puzzles promotes smart habits and teaches you about water while you have fun.
Water Conservation for Kids: How Kids Can Help to Save Water
Saving water doesn’t have to be something only adults can do; even kids can help out around the house to keep water from being overused in your home and town.
Conservation Facts for Kids
Scroll down to learn some incredible facts about how we use water and how you can use less of it.
Water Activity Book
Conserving water can be fun! San Jose Water has created some fun activities to help you learn more about water conservation.
Professor Davis Green Saves Water
Play a matching game to learn about ways to save water, or play a game that asks you to find water leaks and save the town’s water supply. Play both to become a certified water conservation whiz!
The Water Game
This is a great game for a group of friends or a whole class to play outside while learning about water conservation.
Water Conservation Tips for Kids
These 35 tips can help any kid do their part to save water inside and outside of the home.
A Teacher’s Guide to Water Conservation
This lesson includes games, activities, and facts that your class can use together to become water-wise!
Fun Crafts for Kids & Bird Lovers: How to Make DIY Ice Cream Cone Bird Feeders
Here’s how you make them:
Nested in the eaves of roofs and buildings or secured to tall poles are all common locations for bat boxes.
While Take Care of Texas focuses on how humans can take action to protect our state, native wildlife also play an essential role in Texas environmental conservation. In celebration of National Bat Appreciation Day on April 17, here are some ways you can help our black-winged neighbors, especially after thousands of bats were harmed or killed by winter storm Uri.
Bats vacation in Mexico for the warmer winters there before migrating to Texas around February, spending most of their time here in caves and trees. However, they also commonly roost in man-made structures like bridges, buildings, and even abandoned houses. Another way that we Texans can make them feel at home is a comfy bat box where they can reside, safe from predators and the elements!
What Are Bat Boxes?
Bat boxes are like birdhouses, just for bats! Also known as bat houses, they come in all shapes and sizes ranging from high-end premade models to do-it-yourself plans. These boxes provide a slim design mimicking the space between bark and a tree trunk, a bat’s ideal nursery.
Here are a couple of resources from The National Wildlife Federation’s How to Build a Bat House and Bat Conservation International’s Bat House which offer step-by-step plans and tips to build a bat box of your own.
The ideal location for your bat box:
Bat: Texas Conservationists
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Texas happens to be the battiest state in the country. It is home to 32 of the 47 species of bats found in the United States. Not only does it hold the distinction of having the most kinds of bats, it also boasts the largest known bat colony in the world: Bracken Cave Preserve, near San Antonio, and the largest urban bat colony, Congress Avenue Bridge, in Austin.”
The Mexican free-tailed bats, our state’s official flying mammal, are the most common bat found throughout Texas. All bats play essential roles in conservation in a variety of ways.
Additional Texas Bat Resouces
“If you happen to find a bat on the ground, DO NOT TOUCH IT! For the safety of the bats and yourself, give the bat space and avoid contact. The bat could be a youngster learning to fly or an ill bat. Wild animals may bite when threatened. Bats, like other mammals, can contract rabies, but the vast majority do not. Please never touch or handle a bat. Notify the site’s manager or volunteer or call a local animal control office.”--Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Below are some additional resources about bats in Texas.
Discover Nature Near You
We envision that all Texas children and their families will spend more time outdoors, engaged in nature for a healthier and happier life. Nature Rocks Texas is one of our tools that we designed in partnership with our regional collaboratives and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to help connect families to nature in their communities.
Research shows that children today are spending between 7-11 hours per day indoors, sedentary with media and only minutes per day playing outdoors. This disconnection with nature has ill effects on children and adults such as a rise in obesity, diabetes, depression, near-sightedness and attention deficit disorder. The good news is this is a solvable problem!
Our 300 plus partners around state are working hard to create access to nature, develop curriculum that teaches kids about their natural world and helping break down the barriers that disconnect families from nature. We now know that children and families who play and learn in nature are Healthier, Happier, and Smarter.
The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is an international effort, led by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, to raise awareness and understanding of living nature by providing free, open, multilingual, digital access to trusted information on all known species. EOL has grown to become one of the world’s largest free digital biodiversity information resources, with curated information on nearly 2 million species. Lesson plans are divided into three grade and age ranges, with five themes. Some lesson plans have one or more learning perks including the use of free Species Cards. Lesson plans are created by EOL and partners.
Kids Gardening is an organization that has been doing the work to plant more school gardens around the US for decades! The group aims to create opportunities for kids to play, learn, and grow through gardening, engaging their natural curiosity and wonder. Unsurprisingly, their website offers excellent resources to do this including lessons plans focused on garden activities arranged by grade level. Educators can read and download activities ranging from winter bird observation to studying life in the soil.
If you're looking to learn more about community science activities or some great science videos for the whole family, the San Antonio River Authority has you covered with their ...
River Camp Virtual Series
The Explorer Zone at Science Mill in Johnson City has some fun videos and activities for young scientists, including a Tortoise Hatchling Live Stream. Take a virtual tour of their Aquaponics Greenhouse and try your hand at Greenhouse Bingo!
Brighten Your Day with Some Sweet Baby Bird Pics
Brought to you by the 2017 Audubon Photography Awards.
August 22, 2017
Editor's note: This gallery consists of images submitted to our annual Audubon Photography Awards. If you haven't yet, check out this year's winning photographs, along with our slideshow of the top 100 shots.
Other articles of note:
What To Do With That Pumpkin
Audubon Adventures introduces young people to the world of nature and wildlife through colorful magazines, online features and interactive games and puzzles, plus activities, guidance, and resources for educators. Designed for classrooms and other educational settings as well as for enjoyment at home, Audubon Adventures opens children’s hearts and minds to the wonders of birds, other wildlife, and the fascinating and complex natural world that is Planet Earth. Their homepage is filled with options to enjoy.
For many of us, a highlight of spring is a family visit or field trip to the zoo for exploration and learning about animals from around the world. Until we can safely return to these places we love, the San Antonio Zoo offers fun video tours and lessons. Go to their Facebook page to enjoy the videos.
It's all happening at the zoo. Every week day starting at 11 a.m. the Houston Zoo is going live on Facebook, Twitter and, Instagram to bring the Zoo animals and science to your home. Zookeepers will hop in front of the camera and give daily updates of what the animals are up to while the zoo is shut down, all while sharing fun facts about the animals they’re featuring.
Probably the premier site for all things bird, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is filled with resources for all ages. Start here to begin your journey to information about birds.
The Academy, which is part of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, has great bird games and interactive fun tutorials for kids and adults who like to be kids.
Our Educator’s Guides provide detailed lessons and activities to engage students while meeting a variety of national learning standards including the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Math.
Science & Nature for Cooped Up Kids
This fabulous part of the Cornell Lab's website lets kids explore the world of birds with interesting activities. Designed for any age group, they offer a
new activity each week for you to explore the world of birds. Don’t forget to share your kids’ work on their Facebook group.
Grades K-12: https://www.birds.cornell.edu/k12/k-2-resources/
Grades 3-5: https://www.birds.cornell.edu/k12/3-5-resources/
Grades 6-8: https://www.birds.cornell.edu/k12/6-8-resources/
Grades 9-12: https://www.birds.cornell.edu/k12/9-12-resources/
BirdSleuth Investigator, an annual publication, written by and for students, is also beautifully illustrated by K-12 kids. We think you'll be amazed at their great work? Download these great magazines by clicking any file below.
The Educator Toolbox is jam-packed with helpful resources to make your challenging job just a little easier. Here you will find background resources to help you understand forests and grasslands, professional development opportunities and resources, and a collection of great materials and programs organized by each grade-level for kids to learn and enjoy forest lands.
The EPA's educator resource center includes categorized offerings of an array of environmental and science-based lesson plans, activities and ideas below from EPA, other federal agencies and external organizations. While not entirely nature and wildlife-focused, some of the topics include climate change, energy, asthma, ecosystems and others. Resources include toolkits, activity books, lesson plans, flyers, coloring books, and experiments. Grade level is indicated.
How about watching Texas Wildlife's Youth on-demand webinars? These webinars are available for showing to an in-person classroom, or you can register your virtual learners and provide them with a link to view at home. There are a number of different topics that are fascinating.
Read-along With Critter Connections
Learn more about read-along Critter Connections
Critter Connections magazine is now available in a read-along format. Watch videos of former issues or join us live as we read the November 2020 issue about Sparrows. Our live broadcast will be through TWA's YouTube. Learn more below.
Newly Added Programs
BIRDS OF PREY
Birds of prey, also known as raptors, are a common sight in the skies. During the program, we will take an up-close look at a live Peregrine Falcon to discuss the important body structures and their functions. We will investigate the falcon’s diet, their role in the food web, the habitats in which they are found, and the adaptations that allow them to be such powerful predators and fast fliers. November 11th (W) 9:00, 10:15, 12:30, 2:00, Recording
This program features the largest reptile in Texas and North America, the American Alligator. We will discuss the wetland habitats they call home, their adaptations including their role in the food chain as an apex predator, and the differences between alligators and crocodiles. Students will also get to see a real alligator egg and skull, as well as our guest star, a real live alligator. December 1st (TU) 9:00, 10:15, 12:30, 2:00, Recording
CLASSIFYING LIVING THINGS
This presentation will introduce students to the classification system. Students will learn about the levels of taxonomy from Domain to Species and identify the basic characteristics of organisms with an initial focus on Domains and Kingdoms, followed by a look at some familiar classes of wildlife from the animal Kingdom. This program is intended for grades 4th and up, with a primary focus on 6th grade classification TEKS.
Available anytime as an on-demand webinar.
Get a view of a coastal rainforest from a canoe or download school garden design tools! The Nature Conservancy and its 550 scientists created Nature Works Everywhere to help students learn the science behind how nature works and how to protect it. Videos, virtual field trips, webinars, lesson plans, and toolkits make this a fantastic resource for teachers, homeschoolers or even weekend learning with your kids. The interactive lesson plans align to standards and can be customized for each classroom. You can search by grade or type of resource.
Below are some cool videos about nature for all age groups. Click on a box and enjoy.
Azra Visits Guadalupe River State Park
We hope you found this page full of fun activities. Each of the organizations update their websites on a regular basis, so come back often to see what's new.