Distance Learning for K to 12
Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities
Saving Special Places & Building Better Communities from Home!
We recognize many families are making adjustments to the pandemic’s disruptions like working from home while caring for and educating children. Resources are available from conservation and planning organizations, and we have begun compiling a list of activities and curriculum geared towards Kindergarten -12th Graders seeking to learn about creating more resilient and sustainable communities. Learning about our natural lands, waters and wildlife, in tandem with the human effort needed in planning for and creating better places can mold the next generation of young leaders.
After completing these activities, students can earn a certificate by correctly answering 8 out of 10 questions on the quiz below. Parents may need to assist younger children complete the quiz and download certificate. The quiz is suited for upper elementary through high-school students.
Outreach Director Haley Busch
Create a Plant Field Guide
Using the University of Central Florida’s Virtual Arboretum, learn about Florida native plants and have students create their own guidebook. Geared towards grades 1-6, students will need approximately 10 sheets of blank paper, a pen/pencil, stapler, and crayons or colored pencils. Fold paper in half to create a booklet. Staple together. For each booklet page, have students select a plant species from the Virtual Arboretum to draw, and document the following information:
- Plant name, and scientific name
- Leaf (color, shape, texture)
- Additional characteristics (flowers/fruit, size)
- Interesting fact
Bonus: Have students check out their backyard or neighborhood using their guides to identify plants.
Supplemental Materials: The Florida Native Plant Society lists many downloadable teaching resources, including items geared towards younger children, like native plant coloring pages.
*Please adhere to local safety mandates regarding social distancing and public health.
Grow Your Plant Knowledge
The University of Florida’s IFAS Extension (developed with other state partners) Florida 4-H Plant Science Curriculum and Guide are designed to help 9-11 year olds understand the role plants play in our lives and how to grow and care for them.
This guide contains complete lesson outlines with a variety of activities, games and experiments, and includes subjects like plant species, gardening basics, ecosystem relationships, and the agricultural industry.
Explore Beaches & Estuaries
The University of Florida IFAS Extension Sea Grant agent offers a variety of educational resources for teachers and families to learn about Florida’s unique marine habitats and wildlife:
Beach Scavenger Hunt Activity: This activity is designed to make participants aware of the sources of items they find on the beach, and includes questions for discussion. Activity works with all ages, but is best for 2nd grade and older. Try to identify beach flora using this guide listing common and scientific names of beach plants found in northeast/central Florida. *Please abide by your local regulations and guidelines on social distance.
Estuary Food Web/Edible Estuary Activity: Have students learn about the components of an estuarine food web system using yarn and the printable cards in this activity sheet. Once web is complete, examine what happens when one of the links in the web is removed because of natural causes or human activities. Next, bring learners to the kitchen for some messy, chocolatey fun! Check out the edible estuary activity. Both activities geared towards elementary school age students.
Create Sea Level Rise Models
Check out NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory resources designed to teach the science behind sea-level rise, learn how to create data models for short-term and long-term trends, as well as learning the difference between land ice and sea ice. These four activities include home science experiments, worksheets, and Q&A sheets. Suitable for grades 2-12.
- Our Climate, Our Future, a 40-minute video, is broken down into 11 chapter segments and companion worksheets. The organization also includes several pages of interactive educator resources for teaching students about climate change.
- Movies that teach kids about climate change by age: Happy Feet (age 5+), A Beautiful Planet (age 6+), Before the Flood (age 10+), Tomorrow (age 10+), Chasing Ice (age 13+)
- The Cleo Institute’s GenCleo program empowers and educates middle schoolers, high schoolers and college students to take climate action through monthly meetings, climate trainings and capacity-building exercises
UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant’s “Bite-Sized Science” Webinar Series – These webinars will consist of 30-minute presentations, but presenters will stay longer to answer questions as needed. Each day of the week is structured to loosely tie in with one of the Florida Sea grant focus areas. Monday: Healthy Coastal Habitats, Tuesday: Fish & Fisheries, Wednesday: Threats to Coastal habitats/species, Thursday: Sustainability (including climate change), Friday: Aquaculture and seafood. Each webinar will start at 4 pm EST
Florida Wildflower Foundation’s Wild about Wildflowers! – Created for third and fourth-grade Florida state standards, this curriculum has been used by teachers across the state. Through the lessons, students discover how plants reproduce, adapt to their environments, and interact with insects, animals and other plants. Activities include hands-on outdoor exploration, interactive modeling games, writing, arts and crafts, and research opportunities.
St. Johns River Water Management District’s educational resources – The SJRWMD site lists dozens of activities including worksheets, webinars, reading assignments and interactive programs such as The Great Water Odyssey. Odyssey nurtures a greater awareness of Florida’s watersheds and their ecosystems while promoting their protection and conservation. It includes components of science, geography, social studies, reading, technology and math in correlation with Florida’s education standards.
Take a Trip Back in Time
The University of South Florida’s Center for Instructional Technology has a wealth of materials, including Florida History: Then & Now, a set of 70 reproducible readings, questions, and activity sheets for an upper elementary study of Florida History spanning from the Calusa to the Civil Rights movement. Each subject includes a handful of PDF reading passages, teacher guides, student worksheets and supplemental materials. Supplemental materials cover topics like Florida’s tourism industry, Florida cowboys, famous Floridians and brief civic lessons.
An example lesson could be about Florida’s local government structure:
Another example lesson could be about Florida’s land boom of the 1920s:
Become an Informed, Engaged Citizen
It isn’t too soon for young people to learn how to participate in our democracy and become informed of the public policy-making process, civic engagement techniques, and the basic tenets of government. The following interactive resources are aimed at students in grades 6-12:
- Start with this 7-minute Ted Talk by “Citizen University” CEO, Eric Liu, “How to Understand Power.” After the video, a multiple choice quiz is provided to help students learn about the systems of power we move and operate within, as well as six sources of power and how understanding them is key to being an effective citizen.
- “Engaging Congress” is a free, fun, interactive game that uses primary source documents to explore the basic tenets of representative government and the challenges faced in our current society. Created by Indiana University’s Center on Representative Government, “Engaging Congress” is an app that can be downloaded on Google Play, the App Store, or on your web browser. The “teacher toolbox” outlines the learning objectives, lessons, and resources cited within the “Engaging Congress” curriculum.
- iCivics: Citizenship & Participation – Founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, iCivics seeks to reimagine civic education to cultivate a new generation of thoughtful and active citizens. The platform has a series of games and supporting curriculum and requires users to create a (free) account.
Learn How Communities are Planned
The American Planning Association Florida Chapter created a series of teaching guides for K-12 students to help teach what a planner does and to better understand how communities are planned. Using Common Core Standards, the guides provide materials and activities in PDF format for a parent or teacher to facilitate from. Guides are divided by age groups. Click Here for Teaching Guides
Supplemental Material: “Urban Planning, Explained” (Video) – This ~6 minute video by Planetizen aims to clarify the field of urban planning in a world full of plans and planning. Geared towards grades 6-12.
Understand Your Built Environment
The American Institute of Architects and the Michigan Architectural Foundation have created a multidisciplinary architectural curriculum, Architecture: It’s Elementary!, to help children in grades K-5 understand their built environment and the buildings, towns and cities that make it up. This web-based guidebook includes ten lesson plans for each elementary school year and includes topics such as “earth-friendly communities,” and “ecology and the built environment.” Click the following shortcut links to check out curriculum guides by grade:
Design a Green City of Your Own
Metropolis, A Green City of Your Own, an e-book by urban planner and educator John Martoni, includes teaching curriculum to increase students’ awareness of planning issues such as sustainability and sprawl, while giving them an opportunity to express their interests and ideas using a creative design process. Metropolis is a multidisciplinary curriculum that embeds language arts, mathematics, health, art, science and social studies throughout the unit. The e-book includes seven chapters of reading with appendices for a facilitator to use as worksheets and activities.
Let’s Go for a Walk: Virtual Community Tours
While we might not be able to physically go for a walk right now, the “Florida Stories” Community Walking Tours virtual walking tours guide you street by street through the past and present of some of Florida’s most unique small towns. A project by the Florida Humanities Council, these tours take a look at 35 cities across the state.
Foster and Partners design firm’s #ArchitectureFromHome: This series of architecture challenges are designed to encourage children to make, play, draw and think about architecture. The hands-on activities are aimed at students from ages 2-12 and include creating a model city, designing a paper skyscraper, learn how to draw trees. You will need craft supplies such as paper, scissors, tape/glue and crayons or markers.
Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s Virtual Classroom: This six-week series introduces new lessons and corresponding videos on a weekly basis, culminating in a final project where students create a work of art inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Write About Wild Florida
Listed below are two 1-minute video clips of natural Florida. Take out a blank sheet of paper and a pen or pencil and play the first video. Using the following prompts, spend 15 minutes writing about the scene. Repeat exercise with the second video. (Kindergarten-1st Grade adaptation: Draw the scene.)
- What do you hear?
- What are the most vivid colors you see?
- What do you think this scene smells like?
- What is the temperature like?
- What kinds of plants and animals are present in this scene?
- If you were in this scene, what is the first thing you would do?
Thank you to our fellow conservation organization, Conservation Florida, for sharing these beautiful videos by videographer Ross Barnett.
Supplemental Materials: Another conservation organization, Florida Wildlife Corridor, advocates for the permanent connection and restoration of a statewide network of lands and waters known as the Florida Wildlife Corridor. FWC has documented the corridor in these films listed below:
Visit a Virtual Library
USF’s Center for Instructional Technology features a collection of children’s literature from the Educational Technology Clearinghouse. “The Florida Collection” brings together several books, essays and poetry set in or inspired by the Sunshine State in audiobook and PDF format. Books are broken down by chapter, with a student activity sheet available for each chapter. Check out titles like “Wakulla, A Story of Adventure in Florida” by Kirk Munroe, or “Rescuing the Lost Balloonists” by Captain Quincy Allen.
Read The Yearling
This Florida classic by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings tells the story of a boy and his pet deer set deep in Central Florida scrub. Accompany reading with this Glencoe McGraw-Hill study guide which divides the book into chapter sections and “before you read” worksheets, vocabulary lists, and literature analysis assignments.
The Yearling is widely available in Florida public libraries in ebook and audiobook format and may be available for purchase and delivery by your local bookstore. You can read for free online via Project Gutenberg here.