Themed around the state’s diverse flora and fauna, Wild Washington lessons and are designed to equip K-12 students with the knowledge, social, and emotional skills needed to think critically, and problem solve around natural resource issues. Activities encourage students to explore various points of view and collaborate with others to find ways to move forward on real-world challenges.
The Department is working with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to ensure lesson plans best meet state and national environmental and sustainability learning standards. Lessons are developed for educators to use in the classroom, and also have modifications embedded for distance learning.
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Elementary school (K-5th grade)
Kindergarten - 5th grade lessons introduce learners to relevant ecological and wildlife-based issues throughout the state. The interactive activities and lesson plans aim to increase problem-solving and critical thinking skills in a variety of disciplines. Lesson vocabulary words and some supplemental materials are available in Spanish.
Middle school (6th-8th grade)
Middle school lessons build on concepts from K-5 lessons and introduce students to careers involving natural sciences. Decision making and collaboration are key social themes as students prepare themselves for high school.
High school (9th-12th grade)
High school lessons focus on teaching students knowledge and skills that can be applied to careers in the natural sciences. Students will focus on sustainability in fish and wildlife, and apply skills in civics to solve problems facing the natural resource industry and balance community interests.
- Elementary school students go on a natural history tour of gray wolves to learn about the largest canid in North America.
- Middle school students explore the world of aquatic invasive species that threaten Washington’s cultures, environments, and economies. Next, students dive deeper and learn more about European green crab and zebra/quagga mussels and what state agencies are doing to keep these species out of Washington’s waters.
- High school students are introduced to the many ecosystem services bats provide and are presented with challenges bats face regionally and globally. In this lesson, students will explore anthropogenic impacts to bats and will be asked to create their own solution for bat population declines in their community.
- Elementary school students swim into the semi-aquatic world of North America’s largest rodent and 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.
- Elementary school students learn about what life looks like at the intersection of land and ocean in the Pacific Northwest. Students take a 3D tour of the Puget Sound shoreline and explore the plants and animals who call coastal ecosystems home. They take a visual tour to the beach and use their senses to describe this experience.
- High school students explore how natural resource managers adapt their work to reduce species loss and plan for changing seasons, habitats, and phenological patterns.
- Middle school students enter the world of conservation biology as they learn about what endangered status for a species means. Students watch videos to learn about what species in Washington are considered at risk of extinction and how diverse stakeholders work together to recover species.
- Students explore estuary ecosystems and the relationship between organisms and the exchange of matter in the environment.
- Elementary school students analyze where seafood comes from, and then learn about the concept of sustainable fisheries. The lesson culminates with a research project where they discover how one of Washington’s fisheries are managed.
- Elementary schools students are introduced to the cold-blooded world of reptiles and amphibians, also known as herps. Students classify reptiles and amphibians using a graphic organizer and define what it means for a species to be a reptile or an amphibian.
- Middle school students research the ungulates (hoofed mammals) of Washington and figure out why physical characteristics are important for increasing probability of reproduction during the breeding season (rut).
- High school students discover the world of conservation biology and learn how people build corridors for wildlife to connect species to fragmented areas of habitat.
- Elementary school 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.
- High school students investigate different disturbances of Pacific Northwest forests and explore differences between natural and human-caused disturbance. They learn how dry, ponderosa pine forests have evolved with wildfire and the suppression of this natural disturbance has made forests more susceptible to larger, more intense fires.
- Middle school students learn various viewpoints of cat and wildlife advocates, find compromise, and create practical solutions.
- Middle school students explore the exciting world of Washington's pollinators and learn why pollinators are important to our environments and economies.
- Young elementary school students learn about a unique interior subspecies of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri). Students explore food webs connected to redband trout and predict what might happen if species from the web were removed.
- Elementary school students learn about a unique interior subspecies of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri). Students explore food webs connected to redband trout and predict what might happen if species from the web were removed.
- Elementary school students explore the increasingly at-risk shrubsteppe ecosystem and learn about the various wildlife and plants that call the shrubsteppe home.
- Middle school students analyze how their community co-exists with wildlife, and investigate why wildlife can be attracted to urban, suburban, and rural areas.
- This learning sequence is anchored in the phenomena: Salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest are declining. Students will explore salmonid life cycles and discover patterns among life cycles of plants and animals who interact with salmon. Students will then learn what makes healthy habitats for salmon.
- Elementary students immerse themselves into the cool, wet rainforest environments of the Pacific Northwest. Students learn about plants and animals who call the rainforest home by exploring adaptations of temperate rainforest organisms, finding out how species interact with one another, and learning how species use different senses to survive in the wet environment.
- Middle school students explore the multi-billion dollar, illegal industry of wildlife trafficking. Students also investigate how poaching and trafficking are harmful to communities, economies, and ecosystems in an interactive discussion.
- Elementary school students discover Washington’s diverse carnivore population and explore adaptations that help carnivores find food, mate, have babies, and survive in their habitats.
- Middle schools students analyze the positive and negative aspects of wildfires in Washington and learn about historical fire regimes and how Washington ecosystems and wildlife have evolved with fire over thousands of years.