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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
Getting Started with Nature's Notebook in the Classroom

Nature's Notebook should be implemented in classrooms where teachers plan to make consistent observations with their students for at least a semester. We recommend that you only choose to do Nature's Notebook if you are able to collect data at your school for a two years or longer. Thus, you are the Local Phenology Project leader who is helping us collect data for the National Phenology Database. 

This four page document is a guide to getting started with Nature's Notebook in your classroom. It includes tips for planning links to our webpages, directions on how to get started, and PRO TIPS for implementation. It is designed to help you navigate the information on the Nature's Notebook and USA-NPN websites. 

Working with students under 13? In accordance with internet safety laws we do not allow youth to create accounts in Nature's Notebook if they are under the age of 13. If your group is 13 or younger, consider having a leader be responsible for creating and maintaining a Nature's Notebook account for the classroom and plan on utilizing our Simple Datasheets for the students. The leader can follow the official Nature's Notebook species definitions, make one entry for the classroom and still lead students in phenology observation. 

Some groups choose to create classroom accounts to be used by groups of students who may be sharing technology like iPads or tablets, using our mobile apps. If you have several general classroom email accounts, instructors can use those to create accounts in Nature's Notebook and the students can utilize the apps on the tablets to make observations.

If you are only seeking to take students out one time to make observations, consider utlizing our phenology activities in the curriculum section instead of creating an observation site in Nature's Notebook

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-015-C

Habitat Scavenger Hunt

The following lesson can be used as an introduction to the concept of observation. Observations skills are critical to the field of science among other things! Knowing how to pay attention to what’s is going on around you is an important life skill. Taking the time to make observations is beneficial to health and wellness too.  It also introduces the concept of phenology through the observation of plants and animals in a habitat garden. The activity increases science literacy by teaching about observation skills, encourages people to pay attention to their surroundings, to spend more time outdoors and observe things they may not yet have experienced. 

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-013-C

Phenology Bingo

The following activity can be used as an introduction to the concept of phenology. The items on the phenology board are phenomena that participants have observed in nature, perhaps without even knowing their relationship to ecology, science, and climate, or their status as phenological events. Maybe they are fond childhood memories. The activity increases science literacy by teaching about life-cycle events, encouraging people to recall experiences outdoors and spend more time observing things they may not yet have experienced. It can be adapted to any grade level.

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-010-C

Observation Station

The following activity can be used as an introduction to the concept of observation. Observations skills are critical to the field of science, among other things! Knowing how to pay attention to what’s is going on around you is an important life skill. Taking the time to make observations is beneficial to health and wellness too. The activity increases science literacy by teaching about observation skills, encourages people to pay attention to their surroundings, to spend more time outdoors and observe things they may not yet have experienced. It can be adapted for any grade level.

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-012-C

The Life of Corn

The following activity can be used as an introduction to the concept of phenology. It demonstrates the life cycle of a corn plant, a plant familiar to many, putting this plant into a new perspective. The Life of Corn highlights the importance of the developmental life-cycle, something which all organisms experience in a predictable manner. The activity increases science literacy by teaching about life-cycle events, encourages people not only to recall experiences outdoors but also to spend more time outdoors and observe things they may not yet have experienced. This activity was adapted from Dandelion Life, presented by NatureBridge.  It is adapatable to all grade levels.

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-014-C

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