Thursday, November 1, 2007

Urban Nature-Observation Activities


In the past few weeks, we have seen some interesting Urban Nature presentations of a very general nature that have been useful in opening discussions on human-wildlife interactions and conflict, etc. At this point, we should moving towards more field observations and reports and less internet work. As an example, I have included a web link below to the kind of work imagined.

Let's get creative! Collect some leaves and look for diseases. A tree or leaf handbook and some wax paper are all the materials required. Observe the multitude of migrating birds coming through Ithaca and relate your urban wildlife observations to current environmental issues. Find out where all of the jack-o-lanterns went, and why they aren't ending up in compost heaps in community and home gardens. Let's get those "naturalist" juices flowing and try some observation based hypothesizing.

Check out:

Here are more resources, generated from ecologists who have attempted to develop activities for urban and school contexts:

Betros, H. F. 1972. Understanding Schoolyard Ecology. Jericho, NY: Exposition Press.
Classroom organization techniques plus many activity chapters on plants, animals, soils, and water.

Blaustein, E. and R. Blaustein. 1978. Investigating Ecology. New York: Arco Publishing.
Open-ended set of projects based on ecological principles. Each project has a background section, procedures, and ideas for further investigation.

Booth, C. R. Ecology in the National Curriculum: A Practical Guide to Using School Grounds. Winchester: Learning Through Landscapes Trust.
The British National Curriculum's attainment goals and programs for study for ecology are defined in this resource, as well as outlining investigation questions and methods.

Bowman, M.L. 1976. Environmental Education in the Urban Setting: Rationale and Teaching Activities. Columbus, OH: ERIC/CSMEE.

Busch, P. S. 1972. Exploring as You Walk in the Meadow. J.B. Lippincott Company.

Carman, S. 1992. Guidelines and Features for Outdoor Classrooms. Indiana Department of Natural Resource.
Planning for the development of your schools outdoor lab.

Corvine, C.; Welting, W.; and E. Arms. 1988. Beyond The Classroom: Exploration of Schoolyard and Backyard. Lincoln, MA: Massachusetts Audubon Society.
Introductory section gives rationale and strategies for using the schoolyards for science. Contains a collection of 33 activities in life, physical, and earth science.

Clark, R. and P. Walters. 1992. Trees in the School Grounds. Devin, England: Southgate Publishers.
Background text enhanced with detailed illustrations, this book devotes many chapters to tree activities and projects, such as "discovering tree dwellers", and "investigating wood properties."

Cronin-Jones, L. 1992. The Schoolyard Wildlife Activity Guide. Tallahassee: Florida Game & Freshwater Fish Commission.
Contains a curriculum framework, identifying key ecological concepts addressed in the lesson plans, 35 individual activity lessons, and large appendix and cross reference section.

Debris, J. 1989. Schoolyard-Backyard Cycles of Science. Cartage, IL: Good Apple.
Features reproducible activity pages in physical, biological, earth, and space science. Major emphasis is placed on starter activities to prompt children to ask "why?"

Denny and Hand. Exploring the Secrets of Meadow-Thicket: A Story of Seasonal Activities for the Curious Child.
Cooperative learning activities usable in local parks, fields, lawns, or lots.

Dunning, E. and A.B. Mills. 1992. Backyard and Beyond: A Guide for Discovering the Outdoors. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing.
A how-to book on stalking, tracking, and observing common backyard critters.

Gale, W. and P. Warren. 1989. Ecology Discovery Activities Kit. West NYC, NY: The Center for Applied Research in Education.
49 Easy-to-use, hands-on activities covering the essential areas of ecology: populations, communities, food web/energy flow, recycling. Good for grades 4-8.

Hancock, J. 1991. Biology Is Outdoors! : A Comprehensive Resource for Studying School Environments. Portland, ME: J. Weston Walt.
Consists of 10 investigations in and around the school grounds. Each investigation has reproducible student pages, a teacher's section, spin-off ideas, and references.

Hogan, K. 1994. Eco-Inquiry: A Guide to Ecological Learning Experiences for the Upper Elementary/Middle Grades. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing.
In-depth curriculum focusing on nutrient and energy cycling in ecosystems. The three modules incorporate cooperative learning, inquiry techniques, and alternative assessment.

Hunker, J. 1994. Ecology For All Ages. Old Saybrook, CT: Globe Pequot Press.
Investigative activities and background information about the following topics: backyard ecology, water systems, fields and borders, trees and woods, and dry zones.

Johns, F.; K. Liske; and A. Evans. 1986. Education Goes Outdoors. Menlo Park, CA: Addison Wesley Publishing.
Outdoor activities to integrate into all aspects of curriculum: science beyond the classroom, schoolyard math, outdoor language adventures, group building activities, etc.

McCormack, J. 1979. Outdoor Areas as Learning Centers. Columbus, OH: ERIC/CSMEE.

Perdue, P. 1991. Schoolyard Science. Glenview, IL.: Goodyear Books, Scott, Foresman, and Co.
25 class-tested activities to develop cooperation, thinking, and process skills in physical, soil, life, and environmental science. Grades 2-4.

Roth, C. and L. Lockwood. 1979. Strategies and Activities for Using Local Communities as Environmental Education Sites. Columbus, OH.: ERIC/CSMEE.

Russell, H.R. 1990. Ten Minute Fieldtrips. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association.
Chapters devoted to different areas of science (includes an ecology section), with lots of teacher background, schoolyard fieldtrip possibilities, and related classroom activities.

Schaefer, J., et al. 1992. Schoolyard Ecosystems for Northeast Florida. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Advisory Council on Environmental Ed.
Focus is on schoolyard enhancements like trails and specialty gardens.

Schiff, P., and C. Smith-Walters. 1993. Wild School Site: A Guide to Preparing for Habitat Improvement Projects on School Grounds. Western Regional Environmental Education Council.

Shaffer, C., and E. Fielder. 1987. City Safaris: A Sierra Club Explorer's Guide to Urban Adventures for Grownups and Kids. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books.
A unique book of ideas for urban fieldtrips in many subject areas: food, trash, and energy expenditure, city people, etc. One chapter devoted to neighborhood wild places.

Smith, D. 1984. Practical Ecology Series. Urban Ecology. London: George Allen and Unwin Publishers, Ltd.
A British resource containing 24 exercises in three main areas of focus: disturbed areas, man-made niches, and pollution.

Thomas, Gill. 1993. Science in the School Grounds. Southgate Publishers.
A British resource with major sections in weather, mini beasts, trees, ponds, grassed areas, wild flowers. Appendix has teacher/parent background sheets and pupil worksheets.

Williams, G. M., and W. H. Dowdeswell. 1990. Ecology For The National Curriculum. London: Unwin Hyman.
Investigations based on ten easily accessible habitats likely to occur around schools.

Young, K. Using School Grounds as an Educational Resource. Learning through Landscapes.

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