Schoolyard wildlife habitat gardens provide a place for students to explore, to engage with the natural world, and to reflect. Here, children are able to feel the rewards of connecting with nature while creating concrete experiences to draw on during future learning. As an outdoor classroom, wildlife gardens provide a space to study life cycles, ecosystems, food chains/food webs, predator/prey relationships, diversity, soil, water quality, adaptations, non-native species, and human impacts on the environment. Schoolyard wildlife habitats have the ability to become a living laboratory for campuses and an extension of the indoor classroom.
Following are curriculum resources that support the use of wildlife habitat gardens:
NWF Schoolyard Habitat How-To Guide - Free resource, appropriate for K-12 audiences, with specific lessons geared primarily to grades 9-12.
TPWD School Habitat Guide – Free resource, with no specific lesson plans but great ideas of what to include in your wildlife habitat to provide interesting learning opportunities
USFWS Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide - Free resource
NWF Access Nature - For fee resource
Project WILD - For fee resource
Schoolyard wildlife habitat gardens can also provide a place to host events that help showcase the school’s work (Science nights and community celebrations) or that help provide support directly to the school’s wildlife stewardship (community workdays or bioblitz events).
Things to consider when hosting an event in your wildlife habitat area include:
Areas designated as do not disturb
Access to electricity (need for music, announcements?)
Providing food and drink?
Providing sunblock, insect repellent
Providing tools and gloves (work days)
How you’ll keep track of who comes
Volunteers to help prep the space and lead tours
Seating or table layouts