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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.

Image credit:
Lili Gama

Resources for K-4 Classroom Teachers

Phenology and Nature’s Notebook can also be used to teach subjects other than science.  Phenology can also support the following standards:

  • 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 phenology monitoring program to your classroom is easy if your project is well planned. Consider involving other like-minded teachers and staff to make it a meaningful, multi-year experience. 

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. 



Curriculum Ideas

There are many hands-on citizen science programs available for phenology monitoring, and some are perfectly suited for K-4 audiences.  Visit our partners’ websites for ideas about how to incorporate phenology education in the classroom.

More Curriculum Ideas

View Nature's Notebook curriculum materials developed for these grade levels in the table below.

Title Description
Data download and visualization for your Nature's Notebook group

This 2 page guide describes the ways that you can download your group's data, and the USA-NPN tools available to you to make graphs of your data to share with your group members. 

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2015-002-T

Summarizing Observation Records by Participant

The resource walks the user through the creation of a PivotTable to determine which users in a group have submitted data, on what date, for which species. 

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-001-T

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