“Nature is something that binds into you. What can I say? I had the experience.”
– From the RVOEP nature journal of Sydney, 8 years old
An Earth Walk (Grade 1)
Developing a sense of wonder and keen observation skills are two of the primary goals for our morning of adventure with young students. We begin with some simple tuning in the senses activities. Next, we uncover the richness and wonders of the natural world as we explore the Enchanted Woodland on a special EARTH WALK. Finally, back at the picnic tables, students learn about the lifecycle of insects and explore a grassy meadow to see what insects they can find.
The Living Earth – SOIL (Grade 2)
Students work in small groups to unlock the mysteries of soil. What is soil? What lives in it? How is it formed? Why is it so important? There is no better way to find out then to dissect a block of earth’s soil. During this process, students discover that soil is really a living community. After a break for a healthy snack, a special “soil hike” through the forest introduces students to the cycle of soil and leads to the discovery that every living thing depends on soil. The morning includes a stop at the soil kitchen to see if students can make a batch of soil from scratch. They soon discover that it is not so easy to duplicate the work of Mother Nature!
The Nature Detective Training Program (Grade 3)
Students are introduced to the fun of keeping a nature journal as they explore three different habitats at the RVOEP. Keen observation skills begin to develop as these budding young scientists unearth clues about who lives in the forest, meadow, and stream. Leaders challenge students to apply the skills of critical thinking and problem solving to the discover some of the unique and interesting adaptations that help the animals and plants in these habitats survive.
A Forest Community Investigation (Grades 4 – 5)
This program begins with a rousing game of photosynthesis. Students are then faced with the challenge of helping to defend the plants and animals of the RVOEP from a mysterious threat. This involves collecting evidence of the importance of each organism that lives in our forest. As students conduct their forest survey they discover that the forest is a community much like their own and that each inhabitant has a job (niche) and a vital role to play in this essential ecosystem.
Salmon and Steelhead Habitat Survey (Grades 4 – 5)
Is the Russian River a good habitat for salmon and steelhead? Students try to answer this question as they gather data about the stream community along the West Fork of the Russian River. The morning is spent analyzing the type and diversity of aquatic life in the river, studying special adaptations, measuring water quality, and evaluating the river’s resources for fish. Students discover a diverse and important riparian community and learn that each plant and animal has a special role to play in this ecosystem. Most importantly, students observe that the actions of man can have a positive or negative effect on the web of life that supports this fragile ecosystem.
RVOEP Flight School (Grades 4 – 5)
Flight School provides an in-depth focus on the importance of birds in our local ecosystems. It is a special collaboration between RVOEP and the Peregrine Audubon Chapter. During Flight School students have the opportunity to work with some of the best birders in Mendocino County to develop skills at using the scientific process while gaining an enthusiasm for the fun of being a scientist.
During the spring nesting season, students come to the RVOEP for a day of unique bird related activities. The morning is divided into two focus areas. One focus involves students in activities related to adaptation, migration, and nesting. Students actually become migrating birds. As they fly from Central and South America to the insect rich forests of Mendocino County, they face some of the same hazards real birds encounter on their migration routes.
During the second focus, students work with Audubon birding experts to conduct a scientific survey to determine which habitat at the RVOEP supports the greatest diversity of birds. This involves using scientific equipment (binoculars), learning to use a data sheet to keep track of what they see, and interpreting their results to reach a conclusion. Students begin to know and love our local birds as they share in the enthusiasm of our Audubon leaders.
Note: Flight School begins in the classroom with two exciting investigations. See RVOEP Classroom Programs for further information.
Opening the World Through Nature Journaling – A Junior Naturalist Training Program (Grade 6)
An interdisciplinary combination of art, science, writing and observation, introduces participants to the fun of keeping a nature journal as an avenue to a more in-depth study of the natural world.
After becoming familiar with nature journaling and sketching techniques in the classroom, 6th grade students come to the RVOEP for a special junior naturalist training program. On a small group sketching and learning hike through the RVOEP forest, junior naturalists teach each other about the important niche and unique adaptations of some of the plants and animals of the forest ecosystem.
Download a free copy of the Opening the World Through Nature Journaling Curriculum click here.