Resources for At-Home Learning about Nature
Contact with nature is a source of wonder and inspiration for children and is essential to their healthy development. It is important always to provide opportunities for children to discover, experience, and learn about the natural world, especially their local environment. While hands-on interaction is best, supplementing with additional activities can help keep them interested and engaged in nature and pique their curiosity to explore the outdoors.
During this time when students and families are home due to the global health emergency, we are providing some resources and activities that can be used for continued learning.
The following are some ideas for learning about aquatic natural resources that can be done from home, either indoors or safely outdoors just outside your door. They are in keeping with Governor Hogan’s guidance on measures to protect the health of all Marylanders. Getting outdoors is among the activities deemed essential as it is important for physical health and overall well-being. Remember to follow guidelines for practicing social distancing and other usual safety measures for children.
Information, Lessons, Videos
Aquatic Life and Habitats
- Chesapeake and Coastal Bay Life: Your guide to organisms found in and around the Chesapeake Bay.
- Homework Help from DNR: Information on Maryland’s fish as well as wildlife, forests, geology, and more.
- Maryland Fish Facts: Individual fact sheets of tidal and nontidal fish in Maryland and where you can find them.
- The Horseshoe Crab: The prehistoric American horseshoe crab is one marine species important to our coastal ecology. Facts on its anatomy, history, spawning, and conservation.
- Aquatic Invasive Species: From awareness to action! This toolkit has lesson plans and hands-on items to teach the story of our eastern aquatic invaders.
- Outdoors Maryland: An awarding-winning video series from Maryland Public Television about our regions’ ecosystems, people, and places.
- Estuary Education Resources: Dive into this suite of lessons and videos from NOAA on estuaries. Filtered by grade and topic.
- The Estuary and Climate Change: How and why is climate change impacting estuaries? A slide show that explores diagrams and supporting information to enhance students’ knowledge.
- CBNERR Maryland: Scientific journal articles, fact sheets, and brochures on Maryland’s three Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves--Otter Point Creek, Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, and Monie Bay.
- Estuary Video: What is an estuary? This short video from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explains the importance and varieties of 28 protected areas along our U.S. coastline.
- Chesapeake Bay Program Resources: Discover the Chesapeake, learn the issues, read the news; find information, facts, history, videos, photos, and more learning resources.
Water Quality and Watershed -- Science and Data Resources
- Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Facts: An interactive map with facts and accompanying data and information on bay grasses. What’s happening in your area?
- Eyes on the Bay: The place to find comprehensive tidal water quality data and information; an interactive map of all DNR and partners’ stations.
- The Water Cycle: An interactive diagram on the water cycle for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners.
- Stroud Water Research Center: Virtual learning resources including WikiWatershed Toolkits, Monitor My Watershed, Macroinvertebrates.org videos and resources, and more, for watershed education.
- Groundwater Foundation: Worksheets, videos, exercises and activities for all grade levels on groundwater education.
- Marine Debris Fact Sheets: Overview, facts, and breakdown of types of and solutions to our plastic and marine debris pollution.
- Deep Dive into Data (SWMP or “Swamp”): Teach with data using the SWMP graphing tool for real world events.
Activities -- for indoors or outdoors
Learn to fish: Now that we can fish for recreation, here are some skills and tips for taking it to the water!
- Youth Fishing Tips: (DNR) Tips for youth fishing in Maryland from planning a trip to learning knots and hooks.
- Fishing Best Practices: (DNR) videos to teach fishing best practices to youth.
- Fish Casting Activity: Practice makes perfect! Learn to cast in your yard.
- Learn How to Tie Basic Fishing Knots: (DNR) Utilize common materials found at home such as yarn, string, shoestring to learn and practice. Graduate to fishing line as you improve.
- Fish Roulette: (DNR) Think like an Osprey and learn how fish are an important part of the food web.
- Pond Life: (DNR) Turn a toilet paper tube into a scope to practice your observational skills at a pond near you. Keep in mind this activity can be done with more than just ponds!
- Name that Fish: (DNR) Explore fish anatomy by identifying common Chesapeake Bay fish species using a dichotomous key.
Explore a nearby stream - Streams of all sizes braid throughout Maryland. It is said that every Marylander lives within a 15-minute walk of a stream. This site provides a comprehensive set of background information, stream investigation activities, mapping resources, how to find a stream, and safety tips. As a start, try these activities:
Learn about “green” practices
Learn about climate change
- Bay Backpack Online Learning at Home Resources: A compilation of resources, from live webcams of osprey nests to the National Aquarium’s Spy on Fish and everything in between. The site also houses information and opportunities for teacher professional development, student field experiences, and teaching resources to use for future planning.
- Project WET Free Lessons: Explore some digital lessons and tutorials from Project WET’s 2.0 Curriculum Guide and Getting Little Feet WET for younger students.
- DNR Education Home Page: Find even more resources for at-home learning about wildlife, Junior Ranger activities, and information about all of our regular education offerings.