Stewards of Tomorrow / 1st Grade Grant Program
Outdoor education can be intimidating to some teachers and/or is presented as a “stand alone” lesson without integration into other curriculum requirements. Additionally, environmental education takes a backseat to Common Core and Social Studies standards. The focus of the Fair Hill Nature Center Stewards of Tomorrow program, funded through a generous grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, is to demonstrate to teachers simple ways to enhance the classroom curriculum with outdoor lessons that can be conducted within schoolyard environments. This section of the Fair Hill Nature Center's website has been designed for teachers who are participating in the Stewards of Tomorrow Program during the 2016-2017 school year; however, the Lesson Plans and Resources and other information will be useful for any teacher who wants to introduce students to outdoor learning experiences and ways to help enhance schoolyard habitats.
Teachers from Fair Hill Nature Center visit participating classes once in the fall, and again once in the Spring to conduct a series of integrated activities that complement the Cecil County Public Schools Investigating the Living World first grade science unit. During the winter months, teachers conduct a winter lesson to extend the outdoor experience and observations throughout the school year.
Fall School Visit (completed fall, 2016) had two components: an Outdoor Lesson (45 minutes) consisting of two activities, and an Indoor Lesson (45 minutes) consisting of two activity stations and a group activity.
What Lives Here?: Students use magnifying glasses and homemade “binoculars” to focus in and investigate how many different kinds of plants and animals can be found in three different areas of the schoolyard. Data collected will be compared with future observations.
Adopt A Tree: In this activity, students “adopt” a schoolyard tree or other large plant, and begin the first of a series of observations and drawings that you can continue throughout the school year.
Leaf Match and Matching Seeds: In this activity, students match laminated leaves of Maryland native trees, and discover the different kinds of seeds each produces.
Bird Beak Game: Students use human tools to mimic the adaptations birds have in order to obtain food.
Build a Tree Group Activity: Students use props to become parts of a tree and explain how their part helps the tree survive.
Winter Teacher-led Outdoor Lesson
Students repeat the What Lives Here? schoolyard survey and data
collection, and draw a picture of their adopted tree in winter. Teachers also can choose from a variety of related science, art, and reading activities that are featured in the Teacher Resource area of this website.
Spring Visit and Action Projects: In the spring Nature Center teachers return and help students complete the What Lives Here? and Adopt a Tree observations and data collection, as well as complete a small action project of your choice to enhance habitat at your school.
Three Professional Development Workshops are conducted during the course of this program (summer and fall, 2016, and spring 2017) are designe to provide teachers with an overview of the grant, activities and resources for extending outdoor investigations through the seasons, and planning sessions to get ready for action projects.