Educational Resources


Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives. --Thomas Berry

Whether teacher, librarian, youth group leader, family member or community leader, your interest in nature makes a positive and lasting effect on the children in your life.  Expanding a child’s understanding of our natural world can help him or her appreciate nature so that they want to help care for it.

You are invited to participate in The Children of Indiana Nature Park project, using the deeds and the resources on this website to invite children to get outdoors so they can learn to love the land. To have information about the Children of Indiana Nature Park delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for our e-newsletter.

Thank you for helping reconnect Hoosier kids to nature!

If you are interested in participating in a webinar preview and discussion click here!

  • Classrooms
  • Libraries
  • Families & Youth Groups
  • Field Trip Funding

Bring Nature Into Your Classroom

With nature as a classroom, there are many opportunities for young learners to demonstrate inquisitiveness, observe sequences or patterns, understand relationships, and evaluate complex natural systems.  These skills are valued in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

This page includes resources to get you started in your classroom, and also may offer some new ideas for those who are experienced in teaching kids about our natural world.
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Bicentennial Nature Center Network Curriculum

These three units for elementary level students were designed for The Children of Indiana Nature Park project by a Cope Environmental Center teacher who routinely teaches in an outdoor environment.  Each unit is designed in accordance with Indiana Academic Standards. Learn about the Bicentennial Nature Center Network curriculum.

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Social Studies Units from Ball State University

Caring for our environment is not only a scientific endeavor.  Many social and community factors also affect how we relate to our natural world. These creative social studies units will help young students explore their connection to nature as well as understand how nature benefits their community. Learn about the BSU lessons.
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Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site Settlers and Surveyors Program

The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site helps prepare young Hoosiers for becoming owners of land in the Children of Indiana Nature Park through an important history lesson.  The Settlers and Surveyors program brings a part of Harrison family history alive for the students by learning how pioneers chose the land to settle. Click here to read about the Settlers and Surveyors program that also gives a Nature In-Deed to each participant.
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Nature Works Everywhere

This curriculum covers a variety of domestic and global conservation topics. Themes of water, food, energy, protection and clean air are available for third through twelfth grades. Each unit includes a video introducing the topic (with interviews of scientists from The Nature Conservancy), plus a lesson plan. Visit Nature Works Everywhere to review and select a subject for your classroom.

These units have been correlated to Indiana Academic Standards by the Indiana Department of Education. View and download the Nature Works Everywhere lesson plan and Indiana Academic Standards matrix.  

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Indiana State Parks

The Indiana State Parks have developed an elementary school curriculum for exploring Hoosier history through the lens of Indiana State Parks. These units look at hour past and present events at Indiana State Parks link to past and present events in Indiana's history. Lesson plans include a wide variation of topics such as glaciers, land development, the how Indiana State Parks began and continue to grow. Click here to view the Indiana State Park curriculum.
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Additional Educator Resources

Looking to expand the nature-based curriculum offered in or out of your classroom?  Discover additional curricula meeting Indiana Academic Standards, and explore other nature-inspired resources to use in your classroom. For fun and simple and easily printable activities for classrooms, check out this list.

Interested in a math activity?   Check out Math Fun for Students with Nature IN-Deeds.

Bring Nature Into Your Library

Do you have an outdoor space at your library or school that is underutilized?  Do you work with groups of youth?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, your library can help reconnect Hoosier kids to nature!  Here are some ideas to get you started as you help kids learn about our natural world.  And if you are a librarian with ideas to share, please email us at childrenofindiananaturepark@tnc.org!
 
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Books to inspire the next generation of conservation leaders!

Ever wonder which books inspired today's conservation leaders when they were young? Together with our friends at the Indiana Children & Nature Network, we compiled a list of children's books that have inspired Indiana conservationists. Click here to find the list, and promote these books to motivate youngsters to care for our lands!
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Nature-Inspired Poetry with Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner

Shari has written two books of beautiful poems, many of which are inspired by nature and places in Indiana.  Visit her website Through the Sycamores and request a reading of her nature-inspired poetry or a writing workshop for your library.

My Lucky Buckeye”  In her poetry writing workshops, Shari guides children (adults too) through the process of writing a nature poem using prompts, collaborative exercises and discussion of sample poems. Participants find inspiration from her collection of natural objects: geodes, feathers, fossils, buckeyes, snake skins, shells, sweet gum burrs, etc.
 
Through the Sycamores”  Shari offers a poetry reading for kids (and adults too) in which she reads her nature poems and talks about the places in Indiana that have inspired her: for instance, Angel Mounds, Clifty Falls, Turkey Run, Lincoln's field, and the creek near her childhood home.
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Ideas for a Nature-Themed Week

Reconnecting kids to nature is fun!  Libraries can participate by 1) hosting a theme week in which nature and Indiana parks are the focus, 2) using this Children of Indiana Nature Park website to host a “Deeding Day”, printing a personal deed for each participating child, and 3) incorporating the State Park Centennial Pass Library Check-out Program to encourage people to visit libraries and parks.  Download a flyer with these ideas to get you started, then add your own ideas to tailor the event to your library! Also, check out this list of fun printable activities!
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Partner for a Nature-Themed Event

The Bicentennial Nature Center Network and The Indiana Children and Nature Network are resources that can support you as you organize a nature-themed event for your library.  Learn more...

Bring Nature Into Your Family and Community

The outdoors is a wonderful place to just be a kid!  Kids who spend time outdoors are happier, healthier, and more confident.  Outdoors, there are many opportunities for children to be inquisitive, see patterns, and learn about relationships between living things.  Perhaps most importantly, the outdoors is a place to explore and have fun!

As a trusted adult in your kids’ lives, there are many ways that you can help connect children to nature.  The most important thing is to show the kids around you that you care for nature.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

 
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Know the Benefits of Getting Kids Outside

The scientific data show what many of us know intuitively:  nature is good for people!  The Children & Nature Network is collecting research and promoting best practices to help get children connected to the outdoors.  To learn more about the benefits of getting kids outside, visit the robust Research Center of the Children & Nature Network.
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Start a Conversation with Your Kids

Help your child(ren) claim their deed, visit their spot in the park, and learn about Indiana’s plants and wildlife - all from this website.  Ask them what questions they have, and then help them discover more about their favorite topics.  Adults don’t have to know all of the answers, but we can be there help our kids ask and explore the questions that they have!
 
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Get Outside!

Plan a family or group trip to The Children of Indiana Nature Park.  If Centerville is too far, visit one of the parks of the Bicentennial Nature Center Network to find nature near you! When you get there, use these fun prompts from Cope Environmental Center to engage your kids with the natural world! If you are ready to roll up your sleeves to love your park, check out the Volunteer Opportunities on our Outdoor Fun page to care for the land at The Children of Indiana Nature Park or  your local nature center.  For more ideas

Can’t Get Outside? Bring Nature Indoors

For those rainy, cold, or sick days that keep you inside, you can still continue learning about nature from indoors with these ideas and activities that include a matching game, a maze, and a Nature Invitations game all designed to help learn more about our native species!
 

Need funding for your Field Trip?

Resources are available to help get your kids outside! Below are several grant opportunities for funding your educational nature field trips.
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Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society (INPAWS) Letha’s Fund

Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society (INPAWS) Letha’s Fund is available for school and youth group trips to experience nature in an educational context. Youth-initiated activities that bring them in closer contact with nature are also eligible for funding. Preferred groups are those with the least access to expe­riences in the natural environment. Click here for information about the INPAWS Letha's Fund.
Indiana Natural Resources Foundation

Indiana Natural Resources Foundation

The Discovering the Outdoors Fund (Tom Huck Memorial Fund) can help pay for school field trips that include outdoor education and interaction with our natural world. Grants are available to assist public, private, parochial, or home school educators in taking field trips to Indiana's State Parks and Reservoirs. These field trips engage students in learning about Indiana's fish, forest, wildlife, or natural habitats and their conservation.
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Target's Field Trip Grant

Target recognizes that some of the best learning opportunities happen outside of the classroom.  Target's Field Trip Grant can help take your students outside. Grants are awarded to schools in all 50 states. Click here for information about the Target Field Trip Grant.
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IU Health Strong Schools

Would you like to add 30 minutes of physical activity to your elementary students’ day and help build their academic success? Indiana University Health is committed to improving health and supports opportunities for more physical activity in our elementary schools and communities. Because healthier and more active kids tend to learn better, IU Health will provide 30 or more IU Health Strong Schools grants to elementary schools in the 15 counties that house an IU Health hospital across the state. Learn more about applying to IU Health Strong Schools.