Environmental Education at Home

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NEEF is committed to helping parents and educators following "social distancing" guidelines to slow the spread of this dangerous virus. However, even if you have to stick close to home, there are still many activity guides and citizen science projects available for children of all ages to learn about environmental education.

The following list of resources includes selected NEEF toolkits and activity guides that require minimal outdoor time. Visit our Environmental Education Resources page for more activities, infographics, and educator resources.  Please note that we will be updating this page regularly with new resources and activities. Please check back weekly to view updated resources!

You can also sign up for our NEEF Connect newsletter to have new resources delivered directly to your inbox each month.

Activity Guides and Educational Projects

Going, Going... Gone?

Students learn about extinct and endangered species. They explore how climate change, habitat loss, pollution, and other facts contributed to these species' population loss. From our friends at the American Museum of Natural History.

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Saving Energy with the IMS HEROes

This incredibly creative Saving Energy challenge activity encourages students to conduct a home energy audit incorporating worksheets, comic strips, and more. Developed by Stephanie Fletcher of Ionia Middle School, one of our 2019 Climate Superstars winners.

Grades 6-8

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The Legend of the Flying Frog

Imagine you discovered an animal that scientists have long thought to be extinct! And this animal, the flying frog, needs protection. This is your chance to draw and write a story about a make-believe endangered species. From our friends at the American Museum of Natural History.

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Water Quality Backyard Activity Guide

Explore the topic of water quality in your area! With activities to do both on and off the worksheet, it's perfect for your next environmental investigation. You can use this activity guide at a park (remember to practice “social distancing”) or at home.

Grades 3-5

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Animal Migration Activity Guide

Designed for elementary-age children, this guide can be used at home for some fun and educational entertainment ideas. Activities include encouraging kids to use STEM skills to learn more about the topic, whether they are using math to plot the coordinates of monarch migration paths, engineering to design a birdfeeder, science to understand the phenomenon of animal migration, or technology to get involved with online citizen science.

Grades 3-5

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Pollinator Backyard Activity Guide

Look for a patch of flowers and watch closely to see what sort of animals visit them. Then, follow the activities on your worksheet to record your observations, monitor what types of pollinators you see, and help attract more pollinators.

Grades 3-5

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Watershed Sleuth

In this Watershed Sleuth Challenge, you will learn more about your watershed—what it is, why it’s important, and what you can do to help protect it—as you earn badges at each level of this three-part course.

Grades 3-5

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Improve the Environmental Quality of Your Home

Use this questionnaire to help you identify various factors that affect indoor air quality in your home.

Grades 3-5

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Learn to Compost

Turn your yard waste and food scraps into organic “black gold” by learning how to compost. You can add this rich organic material to gardens to help plants grow. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food scraps and yard waste make up about 30% of household waste.

Grades K-5

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Learn About Energy in Your Home

This guide offers some creative ways to help kids understand the concept of energy, including a fun home energy audit from NEEF and the National Hockey League.

Grades K-5

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At-Home Upcycle Projects from Climate Superstars

Celebrate environmental education with these easy upcycle projects you can do at home from Climate Superstars.

Climate Superstars is a 10-day online environmental challenge presented by NEEF, Samsung, and ENERGY STAR® that gets kids excited about the environment.

Grades K-5, 6-8

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Free eBird Lessons from The Cornell Lab

These stand-alone guides provide educators with fun, hands-on lessons that connect kids to nature through the world of birding. Children will learn how to make careful observations of avian life, collect and explore data and patterns, and build STEM practices.

Grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

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What Makes Birds Unique?

Explore the fascinating science behind feathers with this interactive tutorial with this unique activity from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Grades 3-5, 6-8

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Urban Trees Lesson

In this Urban Trees lesson, presented by the Nature Conservancy, students learn how trees renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, and how they clean our air by filtering out dust and greenhouse gases.

Grades 6-8

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SunWise Toolkit

These activities are standards-based, cross-curricular, and encourage students to explore, assess, and understand their natural environment and the factors that affect their health.

Grades K-8

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Scholastic Learn at Home

Scholastic is offering free daily projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing while home from school.

Grades preK-K, K-2, 3-5, 6-8

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Khan Academy

Free online lessons for Pre-K to grade 12 students in math, science, and history.

Grades K-12

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Activities to do with Children at Home

Project Learning Tree has assembled this list of (free!) family activities that you can do at home—both inside and close-by in a safe space outside.

Grades preK-12

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Explore Living Landscapes

Featuring outdoor superhero TurfMutt, these K-8 science activities will help kids and families understand the importance of living landscapes and how to take care of the green spaces around them.

Grades K-8

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National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) Free 30-Day Membership

NSTA is offering a free 30-day membership (requires registration), providing access to more than 12,000 digital professional learning resources and tools.

Grades K-12

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Miacademy Learning Channel from Arizona State University

Miacademy offers hundreds of original lesson videos across every K-8 content area, including language arts, math, science and history and extending into art, music and foreign language learning.

Grades K-8

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Amplify K-8 Free Resources

Amplify has pulled from its top-rated programs to create a series of remote learning experiences that are high-quality, easy to use at home, and totally free

Grades K-8

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Natural Inquirer

Natural Inquirer is a free, peer-reviewed science journal for elementary, middle school, and high school students. Each article follows the same format as a scientific journal article by including an Introduction, Methods, Findings, and Discussion section.

Grades K-8

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New York Hall of Science

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) offers free, informal, hands-on learning through various videos, apps, and games that bring delight and play to learning science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Grades K-8

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Project WET

Project WET provides free educational resources, digital lessons, and tutorials that promote awareness of water and water issues.

Grades K-8

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The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy offers interactive nature-based lessons, curriculum, and weekly, thematic family teaching guides.

Grades K-12

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Personal Water Eco-Audit Activity

With this at-home activity from EcoRise, students chart their personal and household water usage in a day, a month, and a year. This activity helps students understand how to apply scientific inquiry and math skills in a real-life, meaningful way. They then learn about the implications of their water use as they study principles of water conservation.

Grades K-12

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EcoRise Freemium Lessons

EcoRise is offering a handful of free lessons to PreK-12 educators who are looking to foster environmental literacy, social entrepreneurship, interest in green careers, and student innovation. These standalone lessons have been adapted from their five curriculum suites: Sustainable Intelligence, Design Studio, Business of Social Good, LEED Prep, and Biomimicry and Science. Each lesson includes a detailed lesson plan, presentations, rubrics, and/or student worksheets.

Grades preK-12

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Nature for All

This online collection of curated materials range from videos to lesson plans, comic books to coloring books for all ages..

All ages

Citizen Science Projects

Pondlife: Our Tiny Neighbors

Join microbiologist Sally Warring as she explores the giant world inside of a pond. From our friends at the American Museum of Natural History.

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Snapshot Safari

Citizen scientists from around the world are needed to identify wildlife caught on camera. With millions of images ready to be classified, participants have the opportunity to search for wildlife in remarkable ecosystems featuring a variety of habitats, such as the unique Karoo and Fynbos vegetation of South Africa, the great wildebeest migration of Tanzania, and the recovering wildlife populations of Mozambique.

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ISeeChange

Join a global community that posts about what they notice changing in the environment. Each post is synced with weather and climate data and broadcast to the community to investigate bigger picture climate trends. Over time, community members can track how climate is changing season by season and understand its impacts on daily life.

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SciStarter

Browse over 3,000 projects and events searchable by location, scientific topic, and age level. SciStarter also supports researchers in managing projects, including best practices for engaging participant partners. This link is filtered to show online projects for kids 6-13 years old.

Educational Apps

Environmental Education Apps

NEEF and our partners have recommended some environmental education-focused apps to help kids develop skills through technology.

Museum and National Park Tours

Virtual Field Trip to the Hall of North American Mammals

Take a virtual tour of the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals. Students can select from one of three dioramas to observe closely and complete a worksheet on what they learned. There are even extension activities associated with the exhibit.

Grades 3-5

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Museum Visits

Many museums and research centers offer virtual tours.

Check out the National Museum of Natural History, NASA’s Langley Research Center, and the Museum of Flight. For more recommendations of virtual museums resources, e-learning, and online collections worldwide, visit MCN.

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Virtual Field Trips

Take an “electronic field trip” from home.

FSNatureLIVE’s offers distance learning adventures for all ages. Through a partnership with the USDA Forest Service, Prince William Network, and other sponsors, these videos were initially designed to help classrooms access remote locations and speak directly with experts as if they were really there. No matter where you are in the world, you can learn about bats, butterflies, climate change, wetlands, and more.

Virtual Field Trips from Arizona State University are topic based interactive and educationally rich experiences captured during real expeditions with scientists doing current research.

The Nature Conservancy offers virtual field trips along with a teacher's guide, and student activities. 

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National Park Visits

Many major national parks like Yosemite offer online interactive tours, and aquariums like Monterey Bay have several live webcams full of beautiful, soothing sea life.

The National Park Service has created five unforgettable, ranger-led tours:  Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (Hawai‘i) Bryce Canyon (Utah), Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico), Dry Tortugas (Florida), and Kenai Fjords (Alaska).

Google Earth also offers stunning visits to 31 US National Park sites.

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Zoo Visits and Nature Adventures

The Cincinnati Zoo and Elmwood Park Zoo in Pennsylvania are holding “home safaris” on Facebook Live every day, providing entertainment that’s fun and educational for children stuck indoors. Contact your local zoo to see if they’re offering similar programming.

The San Diego Zoo has live-stream video cameras that let you catch a number of the zoo's inhabitants—from koalas to penguins to the new baby orangutan. 

Virtual Deep-Sea Dives lets you immerse yourself in the ocean and national marine sanctuaries without getting wet! NOAA offers virtual reality voyages to highlight the amazing habitats, animals, and cultural resources you can find in each national marine sanctuary. 

 

Infographics for Discussion

Biomonitoring with Benthic Macroinvertebrates

Explore how you can conduct pollution tests through biomonitoring in streams using benthic macroinvertebrates.

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Understanding Different Water Quality Tests

Discover the different types of water quality tests available and what their measurements can tell you about local watersheds.

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Engineering and Our Planet

Explore the past, present, and future of environmental engineering, from the ancient Roman aqueducts to the renewable energy sources of tomorrow.

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Surrounded by Science

Explore some of the many ways science connects the world around us. Help increase our understanding of the environment through citizen science.

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Rooted in Math

When you take a closer look at the world, you might be surprised to find out how much of what we know about the environment is rooted in math.

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Wall of Birds Project

Envisioned by Cornell Lab ornithologists to showcase biodiversity and evolutionary change, the project features 270 species from all surviving bird families accompanied by a ghostly parade of extinct ancestors.

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Beneath the Horizon

Beneath the Horizon is an interactive web site about oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and the way people and the environment react and recover.

Books & Activities for Purchase

The books recommended below are available for purchase through the National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA).

Environments of Our Earth

Environments of Our Earth is part of the I Wonder Why book series, written to ignite the curiosity of children in grades K–6 while encouraging them to become avid readers.

Grades K-6

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Next Time You See a Bee

Next Time You See a Bee reveals the big impact these little insects have on the world. It shows how the physical features of bees make them pros at collecting and spreading pollen.

Grades Pre-K-5

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The Beaks of Birds

The Beaks of Birds is the story of a child and two grown-up friends on a jaunt across their yard, in a park, past a pond, and through the pages of a photo album.

Grades 3-5

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Dark as a Shadow

Dark as a Shadow is part of the I Wonder Why book series. These books explore the marvels of light, color, machines, sound, and other phenomena related to physical science.

Grades Pre-K-6

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Notable Notebooks: Scientists and Their Writings

Notable Notebooks: Scientists and Their Writings brings to life the many ways in which everyone from Galileo to Jane Goodall has used a science notebook, including to sketch their observations, imagine experiments, record data, or just write down their thoughts.

Grades 3-5

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The activity recommended below is available for purchase.

Point of No Return Educational Experience

The Point of No Return Educational Experience is available as a distance learning program. This hands-on environmental STEM enrichment curriculum uses the documentary, Point of No Return - the story of the first solar powered flight around the world - as a springboard to explore renewable energy, sustainability, and global climate solutions. (Cost $100 to $135).

Grades 3-12

NEEF Programs & Initiatives
EE Week 2020: April 20-24, 2020

National Environmental Education Week

The nation’s largest celebration of environmental education, NEEF's annual EE Week will be held Monday, April 20 through Friday, April 24, 2020.
Learn More
Outdoor classroom, Greening STEM

Greening STEM Hub

Every classroom has a STEM lab right outside their doors. Our Greening STEM Hub has the resources educators need to engage students with nature.
Learn More
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