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Phenology is an excellent way to teach science, technology, and math standards such as inquiry, observation, creating relevant questions, making predictions, graphing and analyzing information, problem solving, conducting basic research, and communication of results.

Resources for 5-8 Grade Classroom Teachers

Phenology and Nature’s Notebook can also be used to teach subjects other than science. 

Phenology can be used to teach:

  • English and Language Arts such as reading comprehension, writing, speaking and listening
  • Social Studies such as American History, World History, Cultural Studies, and Geography
  • Healthy Living and Physical Education
  • Foreign and Native Languages including communication, culture, and comparative studies
  • Arts such as music, theater, and visual arts

Where do I begin?

Adding a phenological monitoring program to your classroom is easy as long as your project is well-planned.  Consider involving other like-minded teachers and staff in your project to make it a meaningful, multi-year experience. Nature's Notebook is designed to be a multi-year program, for students to experience seasonal changes throughout the academic year. If you are only interested in and able to take students outside one time to make observations, you might consider another wonderful citizen science project instead.

If you can commit to establishing a site at your school for at least 2 years, take a look at our Nature's Notebook Planning Resources to help you get started. 

We suggest setting up a group for your school where individual students can each make and enter observations. Plan to take students outside to make observations once a week, building the other activites and topics you are teaching around phenology monitoring. Continuing your project for multiple years creates a local record of what is happening and students in subsequent years can learn from what students in prior years recorded.  

Can you take a field trip to a local nature center, wildlife refuge, zoo, botanical garden, museum where they may be monitoring phenology? Check with the local educators to see if they have other curriculum ideas and resources for monitoring phenology at their locations as well.

Helpful resources:

If you can't commit to a long-term monitoring program at your school, consider instead using some of our phenology activities and lesson plans to supplement your student learning. Search the table below for activities appropriate for middle school learners.


Nature's Notebook and the Next Generation Science Standards

A long-term, Nature's Notebook phenology monitoring program in the classroom can help address the following Next Generation Science Standards Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI): 

 


 

More Curriculum Ideas

The table below contains lesson plans and ideas for implementing Nature’s Notebook in Grades 5-8.

View Nature's Notebook curriculum materials developed for 5th-8th grades in the table below.

Title Description
Using your senses to make observations by Amie Cox

This activity will introduce phenology to students and will serve as a ‘warm up’ to conducting more complex observations to be submitted to Natures Notebook. Students will observe one specimen on their own and practice making simple observations. Followed by a group discussion, students will have the opportunity to share out their process and submit one Nature’s Notebook observation into the database for Red Butte Garden.

This activity was submitted by Amie Cox from the Red Butte Garden for partial fulfulment of the requirements for the Local Phenology Leader Certification Program in the Spring of 2018.

Investigations in Phenology by Sol Henson

Conduct this activity before students are introduced to data collection using the Nature’s Notebook observation protocols. This activity will familiarize students with some of the main phenophases present on select species during certain times throughout the school year. After students do this activity you may wish to have them make observations using the Nature’s Notebook observation protocols and then at the end of the year students can view their collected data in conjunction with the data they viewed during this activity.

This activity was submitted by Sol Henson from the Sierra Streams Institute for partial fulfulment of the requirements for the Local Phenology Leader Certification Program in the Spring of 2018.

Phenophase Scavenger Hunt Activity - By Michelle Coe

To acclimate people to looking closely at the plants and animals for observation in Nature's Notebook, use this activity outdoors.

Print out the letters to the word PHENOPHASE on 8 1/2 by 11 paper, one letter per page. On separate pages create descriptions or definitions that start with each of the letters in the word PHENOPHASE. Use brightly colored paper and laminate the cards for use later.

Hide the description cards in the garden or around the site. Retain the letter cards to pass out to the group. Have people work in pairs or in threes. Do not tell them that the word spells PHENOPHASE.

Depending upon the letter selected the team has to seek a card with a definition that matches the letter on their card. Once they locate it they should find and identify the item described and have a conversation about how it is related to phenology and the importance of it to the ecosystem.

Bring everyone back together to debrief the activity after they've found their cards. Have them arrange themselves such that they are spelling out the word PHENOPHASE. Ask each team to share what they found.

This activity was developed by Michelle Coe from the Community and School Garden Program at the University of Arizona.

 

2017 UArizona Insect Festival Tabling Materials

At the 2017 University of Arizona Insect festival the Nature's Notebook Education team presented several activities having to do with insect phenology. 

Three excellent resources we used were the books:

  • Insectigations- 40 Hands-on Activities to explore the insect world by Cindy Blobaum
  • Take-Along Guide: Caterpillars, Bugs, and Butterflies by Mel Boring
  • The Life-cycles of Butterflies: From egg to maturity, a visual guide to 23 common garden butterflies by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards

The files above are scanned pages from each of those books. Activites described below:

1. We purchased crickets at a local exotic pet store (and after the event donated them to a critter keeper who feeds crickets to his pets). We created the Insect Amplifier (as shown in example #1a above) and asked the students to count the chirps to determine the ambient temperture (as described on example #1 above). They were asked to record their data on a sheet at the table and as the day got warmer, the chirps became more abundant. We talked about the timing of their chirps, what chirps are used for, and how it is related to the surrounding environment. When during the year do crickets chirp?

2. We collected several tomato hornworms and queen butterflies from the garden, in various stages, and had magnifying glasses on hand for students to look at each up close. We also had print outs of life cycles of these species from the Life-cycles of butterflies book referenced above

3. We used our simple data sheets and students were able to go outside to a marked plant and collect observations using Nature's Notebook. If they returned their data sheet to us with correct answers, they were given a Nature's Notebook pencil. 

4. We had a phenology bingo game available for students where they could review the phenological events present on the bingo card and put a stamp next to the ones they had experienced. #3 above includes a sample of the bingo card and the full Phenology Bingo lesson can be found on our website, here

5. We created a series of What am I cards and used them as a matching game. #4 above includes a sample of two of the cards. On the reverse side is a photo of the plant with the common and scientific name below. Students can either guess what the answer to the question is or use them as a matching game to match the picture to the definition. 

USA-NPN Media Release Form

Hosting an event or workshop and want to share some photos of the event with us? Be sure to complete the USA-NPN Media Release Form with your photo or video subjects. Even if you are asking folks to complete a Media Release Form for your organization, you'll still need to ask them to sign our form as well so we can post smiling faces on our website. 

If your event and photos involve youth under the age of 18, be sure to get a parent or guardian's signature on the form. 

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