Winter lessons 3-5th grade

Winter lessons focus on the interactions between humans and wildlife. 

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Marine Mammals of Washington

In the lesson, “Marine Mammals of Washington”, students dive into coastal Washington and learn about 13 species of marine mammals. From dolphins to seals, students explore adaptations of marine mammals and use basic research skills to learn more about a species of their choice. Students investigate how marine mammals use their senses to find food, shelter, space, and mates.

The lesson uses Next Generation Science Standards in life science and Common Core State Standards in English language arts, speaking, and listening. 

The finale of the lessons asks students to create their own marine mammal, building on their knowledge of adaptations and senses of marine mammals.

Lesson plan

Marine Mammals of Washington

Supplemental resources

Beavers, Nature's Engineers

In “Beavers, Nature’s Engineers”, students swim into the semi-aquatic world of North America’s largest rodent. They study how and why beavers build dams and the impacts beaver dams have on surrounding ecosystems. Students attempt to build their own beaver dam or lodge and evaluate why beaver dams don’t always work.  

In the next part of the lesson, students investigate how beavers are beneficial to ecosystems and other wildlife.  They also explore how the department and conservation organizations work with landowners to help promote beaver and human co-existence. The final activity in the lesson is courtesy of Beavers Northwest. Students role play as a member of the ecosystem to figure out just how beneficial beavers may be! 

The lesson incorporates Next Generation Science Standards in life science and Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction standards in environmental sustainability.  This lesson was written in collaboration with Beavers Northwest. 

A beaver in a circle with the text "beavers northwest" around it.
Beavers Northwest

Lesson plan

Beavers, Nature's Engineers 

Supplemental resources

Saving the Shrubsteppe

In “Saving the Shrubsteppe”, students become immersed into the shrubsteppe ecosystem. Often overlooked as a “beige blur” when passing in a vehicle, shrubsteppe landscapes are teeming with biodiversity and culture. Unfortunately, it’s also an ecosystem increasingly at-risk.  

Students take a virtual tour of Washington’s shrubsteppe and explore the various creatures and plants who call the shrubsteppe home. They explore what it means for organisms to be a producer, consumer, or decomposer. Next, students make connections and show how numerous species make up complex and interconnected webs.  

Finally, students reflect on what the shrubsteppe means to them and explore ways to help conserve this ecosystem and all the species who call it home.  

The lesson is designed for 3-5th grade students, but also has modifications embedded for middle school. It is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards in life  and Earth science, Common Core State Standards in writing, and Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction standards in environment and sustainability. This lesson also has some materials and vocabulary words in Spanish.  

Lesson plan

Saving Our Shrubsteppe Lesson Plan

Supplemental resources

Interactive Shrubsteppe Exhibit (English)

Exhibición interactiva de la estepa arbustiva (Español)

Temperate Rainforests of Washington

Logo with tree and mountain and lake

Temperate Rainforests of Washington immerses elementary students into the cool, wet rainforest environments of the Pacific Northwest. Students learn about plants and animals who call the rainforest home. They explore adaptations of temperate rainforest organisms, find out how species interact with one another, and learn how species use different senses to survive in the wet environment.  

After learning about adaptations, students create their own temperate rainforest creature. They consider how the species will interact with other rainforest organisms and what adaptations they need to survive.  

This lesson was written in collaboration with Americorps Washington and Washington State Parks.

It aligns with Next Generation Science Standards in life science and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction standards in visual arts.  

Lesson plan

Americorps service logo

Temperate Rainforests in Washington 

Supplemental resources