Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide

E-Book   $19.99 Add to cart
Printed Guide   $34.99 Add to cart
Online Course+E-Book   $34.99 Add to cart
Online Course+Printed Guide   $49.99 Add to cart

PLT’s new Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide includes 50 hands-on, multidisciplinary activities to connect children to nature and increase young people’s awareness and knowledge about their environment. Activities integrate teaching about the environment into a multitude of subjects using hands-on classroom studies and outdoor field investigations. The guide is user-friendly, and works in classrooms and nonformal settings, in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

Activities are organized by grade level (K-2, 3-5, and 6-8) and align with national standards for science, English language arts, math, and social studies. Many activities offer variations for a different grade level or focus. While lessons can be conducted both indoors and outdoors, all suggest meaningful ways to take student learning outside.


Teachers, nonformal educators, and natural resource professionals can easily integrate the activities into existing curriculum or nonformal education programs. Activities include step-by-step instructions, time and material requirements, and corresponding student worksheets with green career connections. Many activities are particularly suited to urban environments and STEM learning as well as some longer-term studies.



The following activity features will help you adapt the activities for your particular group and setting:

  • Take It Outside! - A way to do all or part of the activity outdoors.
  • Differentiated Instruction - Solid strategies to adapt the activity for different learners with differing abilities.
  • Did You Know? Forest Fact - Interesting insights into how forests contribute to environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
  • Career Corner - Inspiration from the earliest grades on up about career paths suggested by the activity, many of which are “green jobs.”
  • Academic Standards Connections - Each activity clearly indicates explicit connections to at least one (and usually more) sets of content benchmarks for Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (CCSS.ELA) and Mathematics (CCSS.MATH), and College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies (C3).


1. Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide


This supplementary curriculum is multidisciplinary, with an emphasis on science, reading, writing, mathematics, and social studies. It is designed to develop students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The activities are inquiry-based and present students with real-world opportunities to apply STEM.

  • Activities are organized into color-coded grade bands: K–2, 3–5, and 6–8. Some have variations to adjust for older or younger students. Most activities are designed to take one or two 50-minute periods of instruction. Activities connect students to nature and the outdoors. Several are particularly suited to exploring urban environments.
  • Each activity contains all the information needed to teach the core lesson, including background information; step-by-step instructions and safety tips; time and material requirements; student pages; assessment suggestions; and ways to enrich or extend the activity.
  • Topics include forests, wildlife, water, air, energy, waste, climate change, invasive species, community planning, and more.

2. Online Professional Development Course

The Explore Your Environment Online Professional Development Course is a supplement to the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide and supports formal and nonformal educators, as well as natural resource professionals, in effectively leading activities with youth. This self-paced, interactive course provides guidance on making the most of the guide, strategies for leading activities outdoors, activity simulations, video demonstrations, reflection questions, and action planning.

What’s included?

  • 7 interactive modules that offers differentiated pathways. Choose your path based on the grade band of your students (K-2; 3-5; 6-8) or the setting in which you work with youth (formal education; non-formal education; standalone events or programs). Select modules for just-in-time learning or complete the entire course and receive a certificate of completion with eligibility for continuing education* or certified forester education credits**.
  • Teaching Strategies: Step-by-step guidance to lead selected activities and tips on teaching outdoors and modify activities from seasoned facilitators and educators.
  • Connections to Academic Standards: a toolkit explains how each activity support three-dimensional science instruction and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
  • Action Plans: prompts and worksheets to help you plan and modify activities.
  • Activity At-A-Glance: handouts for quick reference for leading the activities.


The online course can be completed in your own time, wherever you are, as long as you have internet access. The complete course is approximately 2 hoursPreview this course Welcome for more information. 

*Continuing education credits and state-specific supplemental resources are offered in some states. For more information, contact your state PLT coordinator.

** Pending approval by Society of American Foresters.

Price includes shipping & handling.

If you are a teacher, librarian, or administrator looking to place an order with a purchase order, please contact PLT's Sales & Marketing Coordinator at PLT@forests.org.


More than 40 educators field-tested the activities with students. Here’s some of what they had to say:

“For teachers that have challenges with moving out of the classroom, sometimes a gentle push is all someone needs and the ‘Take It Outside’ feature provides just that. The ‘I Love My Green Job’ highlights are also exciting. They show kids early on what careers they might want to pursue and just how many options there are in the green job field.” -- Tony Napoletano, public school teacher at Central Elementary School in Helena, MT

“There are a variety of ways to incorporate the activities into what I am already teaching. The strategies for differentiation and enrichment help to meet the diverse needs of my students and make the experience relevant for them.” -- Dr. Robin C. McLean, Agriscience teacher and Career and Technical Education, Northern Burlington County Regional Middle School in Columbus, NJ

“I like how you list ideas for adapting activities to different age groups. This is important to me as I work with a variety of ages.” - Laura Bland, state park naturalist with Michigan Department of Natural Resources


PLT Professional Development

Did you know? PLT’s 50-state network offers educators in-person and blended professional development that is planned and conducted by locally trained facilitators and customized for specific grade levels, topics, outcomes, and teaching situations. Learn more at www.plt.org/trainings/attend-a-training.