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ABNL Teacher Resources

Below is a constantly growing inventory of lessons and resources, created by ABNL teachers and ReWired teachers. Use them as you plan your week, or anytime throughout the school year as you make the outdoors your classroom.

ABNL Teacher-Led Lessons

Created by ReWired teachers and ABNL teachers

Margaret Holtschlag

Here is an overview of the six essential components of the Annie's BIG Nature Lesson program.

Jan Derksen

Students make deep observations about aquatic life. When we study macroinvertebrates (somewhat large insects - animals without backbones), we can learn about the watershed and its ability to support life, if the water is just right for these “critters.”

Dave Brigham

To build observation stamina and have some fun, have students search for letters of the alphabet formed in nature. All the better if they can take photos, too!

Stephanie Knapp

In this thoughtful, fascinating lesson, students learn to identify their emotions and about the many ways spiders benefit the world.

Jan Derksen and Stephanie Knapp

Use this graphic organizer and powerpoint to teach students about the ways they can contribute to this field as professionals.

Dave Brigham

Concrete poetry takes a concept, idea or subject that we can conceivably draw and incorporates characteristic words (nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs or phrases) into an art activity.  It uses science vocabulary (or from any other curriculum piece) while engaging the learner in a creative activity that can be started during observation time and completed back at school or home.

Dave Brigham

When students feel overwhelmed by the new experience of wandering through a prairie or wood, they can use this exercise to bridge the known with the unknown.

Margaret Holtschlag

The activities described in this document help the learning stick by guiding students and teachers through debriefing exercises.

Margaret Holtschlag

Here are notes for a teacher-led discovery walk - a great way to begin your ABNL week and get to know the environment you'll be exploring for the week.

Jill Tribell

Students learn how to make a 3D model of a watershed, exploring how land use and precipitation patterns interact.

Margaret Holtschlag

The First Look is an integral part of how to begin each day during the ABNL experience, and this exercise can easily be incorporated throughout the school year to help students prepare for the week or continue their learning and observation skills after the week concludes. Click here to see the Beaufort Wind Scale, which is a simple way to use observation to predict wind speed.  

Chris Samson

Students will string food items onto string or thread for forest animals to enjoy.  Students will observe the changes in the garland each day during ABNL week.

Joni Baker

Haiku poems are a Japanese form of poetry with seventeen unrhymed syllables organized into three lines—five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables. They focus on images in the natural world - a lovely writing activity for your ABNL week!

Jill Tribell

Students use both sides of their brain in this activity, creating "advertisements" for various critters' homes.

Various Authors

A list of skills fostered by journaling and inspiring images.

Dave Beutel

By observing closely using a loupe and lens, students can use this handout to take notes about what they notice.

Dave Brigham

This lesson teaches the "law of 3s" for surviving lost in the woods, and gives students practice "losing" an item.

Joni Baker

Engage students with cooking and exploring some of the edible natural resources of Michigan.

Casey Bain

Do your students like to move? Do they need to move? Find a ton of movement based activities for kids to explore nature. 

Dave Brigham

It's a teachable moment when the teacher doesn't know the answer - they get the opportunity to show how an inquisitive mind learns more. This lesson addresses a logical sequence for making non-visual observations to make an identification (inference).

Dave Brigham

Nature walks with your students can seem overwhelming.  There is so much to see.  It is so much bigger than the school.  You might not feel confident in your background knowledge.  You might even be frightened of the prospect.  This lesson is intended to make you feel comfortable not knowing everything about Nature but still using critical thinking skills as you lead a walk in the woods with your students.

Margaret Holtschlag

Observation time in the morning is fundamental to what happens during the ABNL week. Use these activities to practice observation time with your students from anywhere.

Stephanie Knapp

Tips, guiding questions, and activities to help students make scientific discoveries and observations by creating detailed sketches, notes, and including important information in their journals.

Dave Brigham

Just what it sounds like - have fun making paper!

Stephanie Knapp

Students develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles, but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.

Various Sources

The three games described in this document will get your students on their feet, having fun, and learning about the fascinating phenomena found in nature.

Jackie Blanc

Scientists can learn a lot about animals from looking at their skulls. In this lesson, students will learn about the structure and function, classification, adaptations, and other scientific concepts through examining skulls.

Dave Beutel

Many science concepts take a while for students to understand, even if they are easy and intuitive for us. This session will share a half-dozen or more demonstrations that literally sit on the counter for weeks. Changing slowly, they create a lot of curiosity, and end up teaching basic important concepts that tie in with many areas of science.

Ruth Pearson

This lesson to teaches about soil, using the rain simulator equipment to demonstrate the action of rain on various soil samples.  The measurable results using the simulator give some evidence to determine soil condition within the parameters of a sampling. Click here for an accompanying sheet for students to record their data.

Jan Derksen

This lesson will provide students with an opportunity to learn about and examine two different types wetlands, discover how plants and animals are adapted to these unique habitats, and then compare and contrast the two, in this case a bog and a pond.

Joan Brigham

WHAT IS INTERPRETATION?  To many of us the natural world is a mysterious and foreign place.  Unraveling these mysteries for children and adults is similar to interpreting a foreign language.  Our job as field trip leaders is to help them understand, appreciate and become aware of their wild surroundings.

Jill Tribell

Students get ready to use binoculars when they are out in nature.  Students may have their own pairs or share binoculars.

Sandy Moore

Here are two more interesting ways to measure a tree from East Lansing teacher Sandy Moore.

Dave Brigham

Students learn to use a Biltmore stick - the forester’s tool to measure trees quickly.  Using the board feet calculator (not on this rudimentary Biltmore Stick), one can rapidly determine the amount of lumber that is in a tree.

Ruth Pearson

In this lesson, students are learning the identification of common Michigan trees, and how to use a dichotomous key to identify characteristics of a subject or object in order to sort and name them.

Joni Baker

An important part of our ABNL week is Observation Time. It’s a daily activity that we put a lot of thought and planning into. But what about our walk through the woods to get to our journaling spot? How can we make the walking experience purposeful, too?

Dave Beutel

A dozen cheap and easy experiments and demonstrations with water.

Cathie Wood

A lesson to teach kids how to model pollination, plus extension and enrichment activities.

Nature Watch

Use this chart to identify the different types of bones you could discover in owl pellets.


Naturalist-Led Lessons

Click the nature center you and your class will be attending for an updated list of naturalist-led lessons available on site.

Bengel Wildlife Center

6380 Drumheller Rd
Bath Twp, MI 48808

2020 E Mt Hope Ave
Lansing, MI 48910

Harris Nature Center

3998 Van Atta Rd
Okemos, MI 48864

Lincoln Brick Park

13991 Tallman Rd
Grand Ledge, MI 48837

Woldumar Nature Center

5739 Old Lansing Rd
Lansing, MI 48917

Lessons and Videos from ReWired Teachers

Videos and lessons to be used anytime, anywhere

What's the Buzz
with Cathie Wood

Welcome to my Apiary! In these videos, Mrs. Wood shows students the hive.

In this video, Mrs. Pearson shows students how to identify trees by examining leaf properties.

Home for Sale
with Jill Tribell

Mrs. Tribell shares a favorite project with students that uses the five senses to describe animal habitats.

Water Behavior

with Dave Buetel

Mr. Buetel shows us an experiment using potatoes and sugar to learn about the fascinating properties of water.

How do Trees Make Wood
with Dave Brigham

This fascinating video is a conversation between Mr. Brigham and colleagues about how wood is made.

Observation and Inference
with Dave Brigham

Mr. Brigham describes the connections between observations and inference with students.


Environmental educator from Eugene, OR describes macroinvertebrates in an engaging, student-friendly way. Here's a helpful field guide for macroinvertebrates, and a river guide

Education Resources

More resources for teacher-led lessons

Natural and Historical Resources Education Resources for Home

Provides lessons, resources, and activities for teachers of grades 3-12, whether virtually or in person.

Activities to help kids get outside and learning about birds, plus tons of other resources.

A blog full of activities, tips and tricks, and resources to get the kids outside.

WILD Learning Lab series, ideas for adaptations for remote learning, lesson plans, book lists, and resources galore.

Covid-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative provides guidance about incorporating outdoor learning at school.

Your destination for all things outdoorsy: dedicated to getting kids outside and back to nature.

Lectures, resources, and news for teaching about nature from home (or online).


Call for Submissions

Did you create a lesson that worked well during your ABNL week? We would be delighted if you would share your expertise. Please complete the form below to be featured on this website.

Thanks for your feedback!

One of my students with a cognitive disability and normally doesn't talk much, was even giving words of encouragement to another student who was really struggling. Just seeing that made the whole trip worth it!

Hana Steinbach

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