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Nature Exploration Journal
Free journal download available below
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Complete Guide Learning Resource

Table of Contents

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Students are advised to check out our "Student/Family Resources" sections, while parents and educators can find resources within the "Educator Resources" section.  This is not an extensive list of resources but a good place to start!

Student/Family Resources


Virtual Activities




Expedition: Insects is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards for grades 3-5. In the book, readers travel around the world to visit six different types of insects in their natural habitats. The young explorers learn about how evolution is responsible for all the beauty, fearsomeness and awe found in nature’s insects.

Museums of Western Colorado--Online Exhibits

The History Colorado Team has created a resource of online exhibits about Colorado State History. Learn about the history, archaeology, geography and paleontology of Western Colorado.  More exhibits will be added soon!



PBS Kids--Break It Down

Bring on the ants! Players send leaf-cutter ants and mushrooms—two important rain forest decomposes—into the leaf litter that is built-up on the forest floor, in this interactive game from PLUM LANDING. In the process, they make healthy new soil that will provide nutrients for other organisms.  This interactive game relates directly to ecosystems

PBS Kids--Wild City Search:An Urban Ecosystem Game

Players are challenged to investigate a city neighborhood and explore relationships among living and non-living things in this interactive game from PLUM LANDING. Plum provides short prompts that encourage students to find animals and plants, consider how they meet their needs in a city environment, and discover connections among living and non-living things.


Do you know where the red-eyed tree frog calls home? Play this game based on animal habitats to learn! Explore the desert, coral reef, jungle, and marsh to discover where many animals live by matching each animal to their correct habitat!

Harvard University--ecoLearn

Dive into virtual environments and discover the complexities of cause and effect within ecosystems.  WIth material ranging from elementary through eighth grade and a videogame feel, players may not even realize they're learning! 


Smithsonian--Distance Learning

These free, interactive, live video webcasts take questions from your students while introducing them to science concepts and practices through the lens of Smithsonian research and experts. The shows provide opportunities for your students to interact via live polls and Q&A with the scientist.

Brains On!--Podcasts

Brains On! is an award-winning audio show for kids and families. Each week, a different kid co-host joins Molly Bloom to find answers to fascinating questions about the world.  The mission is to encourage kids’ natural curiosity and wonder using science and history…but there’s no age limit on curiosity, and episodes of Brains On can be enjoyed by anyone.

History Colorado--Digital Learning

Join History Colorado as they explore the past through Hands-On History @ Home. History Colorado’s mission to inspire wonder in the past continues as we bring the museum to you through engaging crafts, tutorials, and storytelling. History Colorado’s museum professionals will bring live daily activities at 10:00 am MST, Mondays through Fridays, rooted in history to enrich your home learning experiences.



iNaturalist is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature.  It's also a crowdsourced species identification system and an organism occurrence recording tool. You can use it to record your own observations, get help with identifications, collaborate with others to collect this kind of information for a common purpose, or access the observational data collected by iNaturalist users.

Cornell Lab--Merlin Bird ID

Answer three simple questions about a bird you are trying to identify and Merlin will come up with a list of possible matches. Merlin offers quick identification help for all levels of bird watchers to learn about the birds across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Virtual Field Trips


Denver Zoo---Zoo To You Virtual Safari

The Denver Zoo may be closed, but animal care staff is still providing vital care for nearly 3,000 animal residents. The zookeepers are creating a virtual safari to keep you informed, entertained and engaged with daily videos, wildlife-themed activity ideas and much more!

Discovery Education--Dig into Mining

Get a behind-the-scenes look at a working copper mine as we hear from different professionals at Freeport-McMoRan and learn about their role in the mining process from mine planning to reclamation!  


Fun Science Demos--Habitat & the Scientist Gardener

Head over to YouTube to join Jared and Laura talk about the science of gardens, and where your food comes from!

Fun Science Demos--Bee Habitat

Wendy and Jared explore the hive, the habitat of the honey bee, and the importance of bees in our world.

Fun Science Demos--Eagle Habitat

Jared shows us an eagle mother and babies in their nest through the use of a web cam compliments of Monterey Bay Aquarium. Use this link to see more of their live web cams: https://bit.ly/1mp8r5g.

Fun Science Demos--Vertebrates and Invertebrates

Jared helps us learn that some animals have backbones and some do not, and what scientists call these two special groups of organisms.

Fun Science Demos--Fish are Adapted to Their Environments

In this video, Jared teaches us about how a fish is able to breathe underwater, and other physical features that help them get around in the water!

The Wild Network--Project Wild Thing

Determined to get his children up and out, filmmaker David Bond appoints himself as the Marketing Director for Nature. With the help of branding and outdoor experts, he develops and launches a nationwide marketing campaign to get British children outside, but the competition is not going to lie down and just let some upstart with a free product steal their market. (1hr 20 min movie)

Mister G--Live Performances

The dynamic, interactive bilingual performances from Mister G aim to dissolve borders and foster cross-cultural connections.


Project WET--Discover Water

Students can use this interactive website to learn more about water and the roles of water in our lives.

Project WET--Free At-Home Learning Resource

Due to the situation, Project WET wants to ensure that water education continues for people of all ages. We have created a collection of free activities that educators, parents and children can use to learn about water while meeting standards in math, language arts, science and even fine arts.

NRCS--Back to School with NRCS

NRCS recently unveiled its new Teachers and Students webpage, home to age-appropriate scholastic resources. These tools are designed to help students learn about soil, water, air, plants and animals and what we can all do to protect those resources.

City of Arvada--Virtual Learning Resources

The City of Arvada wants to provide virtual learning resources, tools, and information that promotes environmental education and interpretive sciences for our community. Here you can find activities, stories, videos, virtual field trips and scavenger hunts.

Wild Within Reach--How to Stay Wild Activities & Videos!

Weekly "Break" with activities to do as a family.  Check in for weekly activities!


Non-Virtual Activities

Outdoor Activities

Nature Exploration Journal [Download for FREE]

           A downloadable SOLE journal filled with educational material, fun activities and blank journal pages for the                         imagination to fill! This resource enables kids to learn while exploring nature! Available to download in English                   and en Español


Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History--Create your own Field Guide

Creating a field guide is a great way to become an expert on a location. It is also a great way to share information with others. Choose a location to become an expert on! It can be your backyard, neighborhood, or any other outdoor spot that interests you. Once you have chosen your spot you may choose to focus on plants, animals, or both! Depending on how much time you have and what makes you most excited about learning. 

ORAEYC--Build Children's Observation Skills with Sit Spots

A sit spot is a child-selected space where he or she can observe nature. Sit spots provide a good starting point for teachers and classes wanting to try nature-based learning because they require no set up, equipment or specialized knowledge. 

Project Learning Tree--Activities for Families

Nature is a great teacher!  Try these activity ideas from Project Learning Tree to connect the children in your life to the outdoors and nature.  Suitable for children ages 3 – 15, some activities work better for younger children, others are more suited for older children. The way you present them will change depending on your child’s knowledge and ability.

Children & Nature Network--10 Nature Activities 

10 activities listed to get your families outdoors, written by Richard Louv during the time of the pandemic.

Project Learning Tree--Activities to do with Children at Home

Avoid going stir-crazy during self-quarantines with these simple family activities; they’re the perfect way to keep kids engaged through active participation as they learn about nature, and suggest ways we can lessen our environmental footprint at home and beyond. Unless otherwise noted, each activity is available to download in both English and en Español.

Discover the Forest--Activities List

We’ve put together a list of activities that have all the information you need to get started — including what to do, what to bring, and what activities are near you.

US Forest Service--Just For Kids

Celebrating Wildflowers has some great information and fun things for you to do. Learn more about wildflowers on our National Forests and Grasslands, and also about pollinators, gardening, invasive plant species, and ethnobotany. Enjoy our puzzles, coloring pages, and fun activities!

Indoor Activities

Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies--WILD about Remote Learning

As universities, colleges, and schools move learning online in the wake of the pandemic, many educators are interested in how to conduct WILD activities remotely. See the website for ideas and resources to guide students through WILD activities at their own location.

Colorado Springs Utilities--Deweys Backpack Booklet

A downloadable booklet for kids to learn about water and energy.

Steve Spangler Science--Experiment Library

Fun science experiments to do at home with the family

The Smokey Generation--Wildland Fire Coloring Sheets

With COVID-19 changing the way we go about our lives, including closing down schools for awhile, we decided to put together coloring sheets for kids to do as an activity


Educator Resources

Lesson Plans


Adaptation Focus


Generation Genius--Adaptations and the Environment

This resource includes a free video (12 minutes) along with discussion questions, vocab, a DIY activity, lesson plan and teacher guide. 

National Geographic--Introducing Biodiversity and BioBlitz

In this lesson, students will prepare for BioBlitz by defining biodiversity and examining the characteristics of various plants and animals as examples of taxonomic groupings. Students learn about the number of species identified globally in key taxa and use this information to make predictions about the biodiversity they may observe during their local BioBlitz. (1 hour activity)

Project Beetle--Blending in and Standing out

Colors and patterns in nature are a great entry point to understand adaptations. This activity focuses on how organisms’ patterns and colors help them stand out or blend in with their environment and survive. Students will learn four categories for color and pattern adaptations: camouflage, mimicry, warning, and attraction. Students apply these concepts as they search for real organisms in the area, then discuss how patterns and coloration might help the organisms survive in their habitat. (45-60 minutes outdoors).

Project Beetle--Adaptation Intro-Live!

This activity is a brief introduction to adaptations as the group observes a live organism together.  Students start out observing an organisms’ structures, trying to figure which might help it survive in its habitat and which are inheritable. Then, they do the same with behaviors: attempting to figure out which ones are behavioral adaptations. To build understanding of a complex concept like adaptations, students need multiple exposures to it, which is why this activity should be followed by other adaptations-focused activities. (20 minutes)

Carolina Biological--Plant and Animal Structures

Worksheet based on plant and animal structures, geared towards 4th graders.  Spanish and English.

Ecosystem Focus

NSTA--Interdependence of Life: Species Relationships

This is an interactive inquiry-based content module that help teachers better understand the science content they teach.  This lesson explores species relationships.  Learn about food webs,  predator-prey relationships, and parasitic relationships between species. (2 hours).

NSTA--Interdependence of Life: Agents of Change in Ecosystems

This is an interactive inquiry-based content module that help teachers better understand the science content they teach.  This lesson looks at various influences (including human impact, natural disasters, climate change, and the appearance of new species) can force an ecosystem into a state of different equilibrium. (2 hours).

NSTA--Resources and Human Impact: Earth as a System

This is an interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. The lesson explores how human beings, who live within and depend on Earth’s ecosystems, modify the land, ocean, and atmosphere. In all environments, organisms, including humans, cooperate or compete with one another for resources. These resources include food, air, water, and space. (2 hours).

Generation Genius--Ecosystems

This resource includes a free video (12 minutes) along with discussion questions, vocab, a DIY activity, lesson plan, teacher guide and quiz.

Elementary GLOBE--Earth System in a Bottle

Students will create experimental conditions in terrariums to study what plants need to live. These variables include presence or absence of soil, water, and sunlight. Students will record growth of radish plants as well as observations of the water cycle in their terrariums. At the conclusion of their experiments, students will share their results with the class and discuss how water, Earth materials, air, and sunlight are all necessary to support living things. (experiment over a week 20-40 minutes per day).

Natural Inquirer--Animals and Ecosystems of the Southwestern United States

In this Investi-gator edition, you will learn many interesting facts about the Southwestern United States. In “That’s a Humdinger!” you will discover what happens to hummingbird nesting following different kinds of forest-related treatments. In “By the Light of the Silvery Minnow,” you will find out whether a small minnow can learn to find natural foods. Without success, this minnow might one day disappear. You will learn how climate change might affect 30 different animal species in the article entitled, "Wild Ways." Some of these species are already in danger of extinction.

Natural Inquirer--NSI Nature Science Investigator

NSI: Nature Science Investigator (NSI) is a self-guided activity book for children ages 8-14. The booklet enables each student to become the scientist! Eleven Forest Service scientists are highlighted. Students are introduced to 2-3 outdoor, hands-on activities for each scientist. Available in English and Spanish. 

Natural Resources Focus

Generation Genius--Renewable vs. Nonrenewable Resources

This resource includes a free video (12 minutes) along with discussion questions, vocab, a DIY activity, lesson plan, teacher guide and quiz.

Teach Engineering--Curricular Unit: Environment & Environmental Issues

This unit has a variety of readings and activities to choose from related to environmental issues.  Students learn the difference between conservation and preservation, evaluate various land uses, and discuss the importance of communication as part of the scientific process. Choose from 4 lessons and 7 activities.

Colorado Springs Utilities--Education Resources

Colorado Springs Utilities offer free educational programs designed to augment your existing curriculum. These programs meet Colorado Department of Education Academic Standards and Common Core State Standards wherever possible.  Education Resources cover energy, natural gas, water/water waste and safety topics.

Colorado Springs Utilities--Water Activities

A teachers guide, which includes 29 water-related experiments and activities for students to do at home.

More Lesson Plans

Discovery Education--Daily Discovery Education

This is a PDF resource that plans a week of online learning for 3-5th graders. Perfect for teachers who need ideas of a week of content.  A new PDF of learning/teaching comes out weekly.

National Geographic--School-Based Environmental Service Learning

Ideas to engage students in environmental service learning projects in the classroom, on school grounds, or at home.

Population Education--Lesson Demonstration Videos

Video demonstrations for lesson plans on a variety of topics such as natural resources, habitats, and animal relationships.

Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies--Project WILD Resources

Choose from Project WILD, Aquatic WILD, Growing Up WILD or Flying WILD resources.  Lessons plans and activiteis for students.

Forest Service Nature Live

The USDA Forest Service, Prince William Network and partners bring nature learning to you through our series of webcasts, webinars, and online education resources. No matter where you are in the world, visit our LIVE programs for exciting, on-site learning about bats, butterflies, climate change, wetlands, and more!

USFS--Fire Ecology Curriculum

A lesson plan created by the USFS Southwestern Region.  The goals of the lesson plan are to build an educated and involved public, create support within the local community, reach future leaders with our messages, enhance our presence in the community, build a foundation of understanding about scientific principles related to fire’s role in the ecosystem and Forest Service management and enhance classroom instruction while supporting state education standards.

Professional Development

National Science Teaching Association (NSTA)

Attend free webinars about teaching science, access professional learning tools, check out events and opportunities.

PBS Kids--Tips for Educators

Video tips for educators to aide in outdoor learning.

Spark 101--Professional Development

Watch 30 minute professional development videos about connecting students to STEM and creating STEM related lessons. Spark 101 website also has plenty of lesson plans for teachers relating to STEM subjects.


NSTA Web Seminars are free, live professional learning experiences that use online learning technologies to allow participants to interact with nationally acclaimed experts, NSTA Press authors, and scientists, engineers, and education specialists from NSTA partner organizations.

NAAEE--eePRO Monthly Webinars

Each month, NAAEE offers hour-long webinars on topics of key interest to environmental education professionals in formal and nonformal settings that will help raise the bar on the quality of EE programs, expand the scope and reach of these programs, social movements, and improve the way we communicate about our field.

NAEE--eePRO recorded Webinars

These are past recorded webinars on topics of key interest to environmental education professionals in formal and nonformal settings that will help raise the bar on the quality of EE programs, expand the scope and reach of these programs, social movements, and improve the way we communicate about our field.

Project Beetle--Lead Outdoor Science Experiences

Project Beetle will provide you with handouts and reading materials to increase your understanding of teaching and learning science outdoors.

Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals--SORP Webinars

Webinars that are archived and free on a variety of topics that are related to outdoor learning.

Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education--Recorded Webinars

On Youtube you can check out a selection of CAEE's past webinars on a variety of topics related to environmental education and diversity.​​

Guided Activities, Available Seasonally
  • Art Contest - for 3rd and 4th grade students with the chance to be featured in our annual SOLE calendar and the opportunity to win prizes. 
  • Colorado Critter Challenge- March Madness style bracket game tied to 4th grade life science standards, with classrooms around the state competing against each other.  
  • CPW Teacher Resources - trainings and educational resources for Colorado teachers, options vary from year to year.
  • SOLE In-Class Programs - our standards-based, interactive programs held over Zoom or in-person.  Virtual programs are typically 45 minutes long. In-person programs are an hour long.  All participating SOLE schools must fill out a google form that was sent to them via email to schedule a program.
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