The BIG Lesson
in the time of COVID

School is back in session! Whether you're teaching in person, online, or a combination thereof, teaching and learning most certainly looks differently this year. One thing remains the same: Here at Annie’s BIG Nature Lesson, we’re all about experiencing the wonder of nature and the outdoors!

Although our programming, too, looks different for now, we would like to provide some fun and educational activities to get kids and their caregivers outdoors and learning. 

See below for a collection of lessons by reWired teachers, resources, and ideas for a school year unlike any other!


Lessons and Videos from ReWired Teachers

If you've been missing our fabulous ReWireds lately, fear not: they have been busy preparing lessons and videos to share with you and your students so you can be connected, even at a distance.

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.


ABNL Lesson Plans

By ReWired Teachers

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.”

Jill Tribell

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

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.

How to Measure a Tree

Dave Brigham

Students learn that we value trees for their aesthetic value and their ecological value: they give oxygen during photosynthesis while taking carbon dioxide from the air to make food (sugar).  It is important for all of us to realize that the any plants we use, including wood of a tree, is made from the carbon dioxide in the air.

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.

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.

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.

Jill Tribell

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

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?

Joni Baker

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

Dave Beutel

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jill Tribell

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

Margaret Holtschlag

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

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.

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.


Education Resources

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).