Curriculum Materials

These lessons are designed for grades one through six in a desert landscape, but many could be adapted to other grades and other ecosystems. Click here for tips on successfully managing an outdoor classroom.

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Showing results 11-20 of 21

  • Students record the temperature of different surfaces.

    In the classroom, students review the properties of waves. On the field trip, students investigate what objects absorb and retain the most heat, and then use sound waves to find local birds. They observe how lenses change light waves, discovering how common objects use lenses to bend light to meet our needs, and they investigate how sunscreen blocks UV waves. Back in the classroom, students discuss when our use of heat, light, or sound waves becomes overuse.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Sixth Grade
    Subjects:
    Physical Science
    Keywords:
    Waves, reflection, refraction, conduction, Convection, absorption, radiation, UV light, birds
  • Life Cycles

    Students explore plant changes by performing a play depicting the life cycle of a wildflower through the seasons. They explore life cycles of frogs and toads, along the way discovering the difference between them. Students learn about insect metamorphosis, focusing on moths and butterflies, and discover the surprising world of insect galls.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    First Grade
    Subjects:
    Biology: Animals, Biology: Plants, Ecology
    Keywords:
    Life cycle, metamorphosis, seasonal changes, Butterflies, frogs, insects, galls
  • Water Cycle

    Students hear a story and dance to a water cycle music video. While visiting a wetlands ecosystem they act out the process of erosion in different environments, and participate in a relay where they pretend to be agents of evaporation and precipitation. Students imagine they experience the water cycle first hand and write a poem about it. Afterwards, each student creates a regional drawing of the water cycle.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Fourth Grade
    Subjects:
    Hydrology
    Keywords:
    water cycle, precipitation, water pollution, wetlands, Evaporation, condensation, soil percolation, erosion
  • Mature soil crust nurtures seedlings.

    This outdoor lesson plan includes three hour-long investigations: discovering pothole dwellers, examining lichens, and investigating biological soil crusts. In the classroom, students examine photographs of common microorganisms and use microscopes to search for organisms in pothole water.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Sixth Grade
    Subjects:
    Biology: Animals, Biology: Plants
    Keywords:
    algae, Fungi, microorganism, bacteria, Biological Soil Crust, lichen, desert pothole
  • Desert bighorn ram

    Students first play a board game describing the habits and hardships of desert bighorn sheep. Outside, students explore the tracks and track patterns of animals that live in bighorn sheep habitat, learn about plants bighorns eat, play a bighorn trivia game, and learn to identify the birds that share bighorn habitat. Back in the classroom, students put clues together to solve the mystery of how microorganisms could wipe out a herd of sheep.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Sixth Grade
    Subjects:
    Biology: Animals, Ecology
    Keywords:
    virus, bacteria, Desert Bighorn Sheep, habitat, parasites
  • Rough mules ear (Wyethia scabra)

    Students explore genetics by comparing desert plant adaptations, riparian plant adaptations, and a few desert plants and animals adapted to nighttime activities. Their field activities include: rough observation and data collection, a clue trail, plant keys, a story, and a smelling game. In classroom activities, students take on the identity of a desert plant or animal, and later create an imaginary plant with adaptations for survival in its imaginary environment.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Fifth Grade
    Subjects:
    Biology: Plants
    Keywords:
    genetics, inherited traits, variation, mutation, plant keys, desert adaptations
  • Force, Motion, & Primitive Technologies

    Students explore different types of simple machines by examining ancient technologies. Students examine different types of levers using digging sticks and throwing atlatls. They discover how wheels and axles were used to make fire, and how rock wedges can become useful tools.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Third Grade
    Subjects:
    Physical Science
    Keywords:
    simple machines, gravity, friction, stone tools, fire making
  • This bilingual (Spanish/English) lesson plan walks students through the rock cycle focusing mainly on sedimentary rocks and weathering and erosion. Lesson designed by Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Carol Serrano Treider.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Third Grade-Fifth Grade
    Subjects:
    Geography, Geology
    Keywords:
    geology, sandstone, sedimentary, Rock Cycle, weathering, erosion, metamorphic, igneous
  • Traveling Safely in the Desert

    This in-class presentation explores the tools a student needs to hike safely in the desert ecosystem. Students learn their directions, things to bring with them, and what to do if they get lost.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Third Grade
    Subjects:
    Physical Fitness
    Keywords:
    landmarks, navigation, hiking safety, compass
  • In this bilingual (spanish & english) hands-on lesson plan students will learn about the three types of rocks and "make" each type.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Third Grade-Fifth Grade
    Subjects:
    Geology
    Keywords:
    geology, Rock Cycle, rock types, metamorphic, igneous, sedimentary
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