Ecology for Everyone
With minimal set up and materials needed, our Free Lessons are accessible, engaging, and ready to go!
They come complete with teacher guides and hands-on activities, covering topics for every season like Summer Soil Scoop and ECO Heroes! Lessons meet NGSS and Common Core Standards and come with everything needed to teach concepts and assess student learning. Free Lessons offer fun, engaging ways for students to build their identities as scientists while exploring nature, hands-on.
Download curriculum to share with students, use at home, or view on a mobile device as you explore outdoors! Use our lessons year round or explore them below, organized by season.
In this lesson, students will learn about crows! Crows are a common sight in Oregon and across the country, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how special they are. Students learn about crows’ ecological importance and explore their fascinating intelligence.
In this lesson, students will learn what fungi is, and what the role of fungi is in the environment. The activity is going to be spore prints! Students will collect mushrooms and let the spores settle on paper overnight.
The Pacific Northwest is known for its abundance of conifers and winter is a great time to study them! Students learn the differences between conifers and broadleaf plants, and why not all cones are pine cones.
The ocean biome is the largest biome on the planet, containing a fascinating and diverse array of habitats. In this indoor lesson, students will learn about kelp forests, and other unique habitats found in the ocean.
In this outdoor lesson, students observe the ecology of the forest; learning about the layers of the forest (forest floor, herbaceous layer, shrub layer, understory, and canopy), then participating in a “sit spot” & drawing activity.
Students go over the remarkable life cycle of Pacific salmon and learn about their role in ecosystems as well as their importance to Indigenous communities, and steps we can take to protect salmon for future generations.
In this activity students will study the texture of soil by doing an experiment using soil samples found nearby. After learning what makes soil special and the makeup of soil, students will carry out an experiment and take note of their results.
This lesson dives into the craft of nest-building by animals big and small. First, students will learn about why animals build nests and study examples of incredible nests around the world. Then, students have options to create a nest & more!
This activity fosters students’ sense of curiosity and can be done indoors, outdoors, or a combination of the two. Students view a virtual presentation, then bring an activity sheet outdoors, looking for a variety of natural objects.
In part two, students are introduced to endothermic animals, or “warm-blooded” animals that maintain a regular body temperature internally.
In part one of this lesson series, students are introduced to ectothermic animals, or animals that rely on external sources of heat to stay warm.
What makes rocks unique, and how can we investigate the rocks we find in the Pacific Northwest to understand more about them? Students observe rocks and conduct investigations.
Students learn what biomimicry is by examining a handful of examples. Then, students have the opportunity to innovate on their own and develop a plan that draws inspiration from nature.
This social studies lesson encourages students to research and report on diverse environmental and social justice heroes who have made a positive impact on our planet.
This activity blends ecology and social-emotional learning (SEL), encouraging students to observe the changes in nature as well as the changes they are experiencing within themselves.
Although birds are common, they are anything but boring! This Bingo game begins with a lesson on bird behavior to get students thinking about the different behaviors they might observe.
This investigation invites young botanists to distinguish between plants based on their characteristics, then use their observations to sketch what they find. For students of all ages; includes extension activities.
Can you find something living in a puddle? Get outdoors and discover the wonders of spring while playing a fun ECO version of Bingo!
Students find a “sit spot” and engage with nature, wherever they are. Then, students practice gratitude through letter writing, with thought-provoking, scalable prompts to guide them.
Designed for students of all ages. Originally from Earth Day 2020, this activity can be done any time of the year to get students thinking about how they can take action and make a difference for our planet.
ECO educators share their helpful tips and tricks to engage any young scientist while learning outdoors, help build a foundation for curiosity and connection to nature!
Ecology for everyone
Meet standards and benchmarks for everyday lessons while expanding upon classic curriculum. While our lessons are fun and engaging, they meet academic requirements and allow you to take a breath. Let ECO help make science lessons easy! It can be used as a pre or post lesson before an ECO visit or field trip too!
Free ECO Lessons can accompany content taught by a partner organization or land management agency, such as the Oregon State Parks Rangers. Outdoor Schools may use them as additions to field studies curriculum. We’d love for our lessons to enhance the great work you already do!
Families who homeschool or do distance learning may choose to access our Free ECO Lessons and virtual activities. All lessons can easily include multiple age groups to allow for whole family learning as well. Take ECO lessons on vacation, into the backyard, and out into the wild!