What is a NatureHood? A NatureHood is a park or other natural area with special features schools and the community use to learn about and explore nature close to home. Designated by the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon, all NatureHoods are unique and dynamic, with community partners actively involved in contributing to what their NatureHood will become. The concept was developed in partnership with Bend Park and Recreation District and intends to provide outdoor classroom spaces, without needing to get on a bus or drive in a car.
In the past, the components of the NatureHoods program are two-fold. The first component of the program consists of educational lessons that take place in a nearby park and seek to expand upon learning done in the classroom. The second component of the program consists of student-created projects that go directly into the park or schoolyard they have designated as their NatureHood.
Like so many things this year, our NatureHoods program looks a little different. We have some exciting curriculum to share virtually with students and hope that as we dive into NatureHoods this year we will continue to create amazing outdoor experiences for the classroom.
Virtual Education Program
Our NatureHoods virtual program consists of a free science curriculum, offered as a six part series. Lessons include three 20-25 minute educational lessons conducted live in a park with your virtual classroom ,as well as three supplemental activities prepared for students to complete outside of class, as a way to get kids outside and learning in their local park or schoolyard. These lessons align with Next Generation Science Standards and reinforce science learning done in the classroom. Activities aim to get kids engaged with the flora and fauna in the area and help them to make observations, ask questions, and draw conclusions. The program is open to all K-2 classes in Central Oregon and there are three grade-level appropriate themes:
–Kindergarten: Seasonal Surprises: How Seasonal Changes Affect Our Environment.
–1st Grade: Meet Your Nature Neighbors: Let’s Explore How Habitats Affect the Needs of Plants, Animals, and Us!
–2nd Grade: Soon to be announced!
For more information, please reach out to us.
To schedule a virtual program for your school, contact Amanda at email@example.com.
Pine Nursery Park NatureHood
Ponderosa Elementary and neighboring Pine Nursery Park was the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon’s first designated NatureHood. In 2013-2014, Ryan Shaffer’s 4th and 5th grade class began an exciting project to develop a field guide for Pine Nursery Park. The students learned about different habitats in the park and developed an iBook and paper version of a field guide. As all 3rd-5th grade students have iPads at Ponderosa Elementary, the students are able to take field trips and learn about plants, wildlife, and geology of the park, using the iBook. Download the pdf, or to check out the iBook, search for “Pine Nursery Field Guide” in iTunes University.
Ponderosa Park NatureHood
Bear Creek Elementary and neighboring Ponderosa Park are the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon’s second designated NatureHood. The PTO received a $5,000 grant through Lowe’s Toolbox for Education, which catalyzed each grade level completing projects in the NatureHood. As a result, the following projects were completed in spring 2014, with the assistance of the Bear Creek PTO, Bend Park and Recreation District, and Deschutes National Forest:
- Kindergarten – stepping stones with animal tracks
- 1st grade – planted two pollinator gardens
- 2nd grade – designed bilingual interpretive signs and constructed and installed 3 bat boxes and 15 bird houses
- 3rd grade – created a “Little Lending Library”
- 4th grade – painted a mural at the new park playground
- 5th grade – developed raised bed garden at school
To see all projects and their locations, check out this map! The projects culminated in a celebration event on May 29th where families and students were invited to the park to view the projects and enjoy an evening of family fun. Hundreds came out for the event and students sang songs and introduced their projects to the community.
For more information on NatureHoods, please contact the NatureHoods Coordinator Cara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re an administrator and interested in training your teachers on leading effective outdoor lessons in your schoolyard or neighboring park, consider offering a Learning in Your NatureHood training.