You are here

Educators around the country are developing materials to use with Nature's Notebook.

Image credit:
Brian Powell

Nature's Notebook Activities

Explore Nature's Notebook materials created by the National Coordinating Office Staff and partners.

If you are encountering barriers in accessing content on our site, please contact accessibility@usanpn.org

Title Description
PBS Nature Series - Track a Lilac Classroom Materials

Engage students with hands-on science by contributing to the Track a Lilac citizen science research project. Scientists are working with volunteers across North America to study phenology—seasonal changes in plant and animal life cycles. Watch this video produced for American Spring LIVE to learn how these changes are critical to addressing challenges that arise as the climate changes.

This resource includes:

  • A video overview
  • Handouts
  • Teaching Tips
  • Three Activities
  • Discussion Questions
  • and a vocabulary page

Exploring Phenology Data in the Classroom: Plant Phenology Data and Citizen Science

This activity was designed by Jessica Savage (at University of Minnesota) and Erin O'Connell (at the University of Minnesota), with input from Blake Steiner (University of Arizona, School of Natural Resources) and Claire O'Neill (Earthwise Aware). It guides students through the use of the USA-NPN Visualization Tool to summarize phenology data.

Activity learning outcomes:

  1. Develop and test hypotheses about the relationship between phenology and climatic conditions using the NPN visualization tools that develop graphs and models.
  2. Examine what phenological data can tell us about climate change
  3. Analyze data from a large, long-term data set on phenology
Driven to Discover Citizen Science Curriculum Guide: Phenology and Nature's Notebook

This curriculum series supports student engagement in ecology-based citizen science and science practices: asking questions and defining problems, planning and carrying out investigations, and communicating findings. The citizen science projects provide a natural springboard to these practices and also connect students to real-world research.

This implementation guide is designed to provide context and activities related to collecting observations on deciduous trees in temperate forestes using Nature's Notebook protocols. It includes four content areas: Building science skills; Contributing to citizen science; and Conducting independent investigations. There are options for a condensed version and extended version, covering the span of an academic year.

View the companion video to the curriculum here:

 

It is also linked on the USA-NPN NCO YouTube Channel, Videos created by our Partners PlayList.

The guide was produces by a team of authors at University of Minnesota Extension. 

Suggested Citation
Thompson, Ami; Strauss, Andrea L.; Oberhauser, Karen S.; Kooman, Michele H.; Montgomery, Rebecca; Andicoechea, Jonathan; Blair, Robert B.. (2018). Driven to Discover Citizen Science Curriculum Guide: Phenology and Nature's Notebook. University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy, http://hdl.handle.net/11299/198624.
Local Phenology Program Sustainability Plan

The purpose of this Nature’s Notebook Sustainability Plan is to provide documentation of your Local Phenology Program that can be shared with stakeholders, coworkers, or volunteers. This can be a valuable document in the event that you and other founding Leaders are no longer able to work on Nature's Notebook for your organization. Designed outcomes, a list of partnering groups, potential funders, and information about the Local Phenology Program in Nature’s Notebook can help ensure the program’s sustainability in the event of staff or volunteer turnover.

Examples of Submitted Local Phenology Leader Annual Reports

Local Phenology Leaders using Nature's Notebook for engaging students, volunteers, and community partners are able to use resources available from the USA-NPN to create annual reports for their stakeholders.

The Visualization Tool and Phenology Program Dashboards are useful resources available for summarizing phenology observational records, numbers of observers, numbers of observations made, and more.

Read an example report from a Local Phenology Program at the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge and an example from the Gulf Coast Phenology Trail (an aggregation of multiple Local Phenology Programs) for ideas on what you might include in your annual report.

Don't forget the National Coordinating Office conducts an annual Active Group evaluation as well - share your annual reports and impact statement with us!

Local Phenology Program Planning & Evaluation Resources

Local Phenology Program Planning Guide

This resource guide describes how to develop a program plan for monitoring phenology with groups of people. It walks you through the steps to creating a long-term phenology monitoring program for Nature's Notebook, with education, research, management, or all three as an overarching objective. It also includes a checklist on page 13 detailing the succesful elements of a Local Phenology Program designed for sustainability.


Guidance document for developing Nature's Notebook Outcomes and Objectives

Includes details about how to draft and write sound program outcome statements, objectives, and developing a logic model.


Needs Assessment Worksheet

Before you embark on designing any type of long-term phenology monitoring program consider doing a needs assessment to decide what "need" something like a Nature's Notebook might fill. The first link above is a simple needs assessment form which can be used to determine your first steps in program development. You can also share your information with the National Coordinating Office staff by completing the web form linked from that page.


Nature's Notebook Program Planning Activity

Before you dive into writing up a Program Plan for your long-term Nature's Notebook phenology monitoring program, consider using this worksheet to help you think about short, medium, and long-term measurable outcomes. You also may wish to document some of the information you've gathered from your Needs Assessment Form if you've got stakeholders and resources now available to you. If you've decided upon your needs, decided how Nature's Notebook can help you meet those needs and the resources you have available, then you can work backward to determine what specifically you need to do to get you there.

We also offer a planning worksheet in Spanish if you are working with Spanish speaking audiences.

Program Mapping Worksheet

This worksheet will help you think more specifically about the objectives and action steps you need to do to achieve your stated short, medium, or long-term outcomes for your program. Use this to help you better articulate the Short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes and objectives after working through the Program Planning Activity Worksheet.

Logic Model Worksheet

If you'd like to use a more traditional planning template, check our our Logic Model Worksheet for documenting measurable outcomes.

For more information on Program Planning and Evaluation visit the following helpful websites:


Action Planning Template

How are you going to get from point A to point B? This template helps you to document the steps you are taking (your objectives and activities) and provides a place to record what resources you need for each, who is responsible for completing activities and tasks, and documentation for when it is complete.


Sustainability Plan

We also offer a Sustainability Plan where you may wish to document aspects of your LPP in the event that you leave your position and someone else must take over the Program.

Needs Assessment Worksheet: USA-NPN Education Resource Number: 2017-002-C

Program Planning Guide: USA-NPN Education Resource Number: 2014-007-C (2014-007-CSP - Spanish)

Logic Model Worksheet: USA-NPN Education Resource Number: 2017-001-C

Phenology, Ecosystem Analysis, and Ecological Mismatches by Pete Malecki

This lesson helps students become familiar with plant and animal species present in an oak tree ecosystem. They are also asked to explore the USA-NPN's Visualization Tool and, from the data, draw conclusions about how climate and climate change affect plant phenology.

This lesson was submitted by Peter Malecki for partial fulfulment of the requirements for the Local Phenology Leader Certification Program in the Spring of 2018.

Exploring Phenology Using Seed Balls By Lexie Barrell

The following activity is an introductory lesson in the basics of observation skills for young children. Observation is a crucial component to scientific inquiry as well as many basic life skills. This activity encourages young children to take notice of their surrounding environments and reflect on their observations.   

This activity was submitted by Lexie Barrell from the Science Museum of Virginia for partial fulfulment of the requirements for the Local Phenology Leader Certification Program in the Spring of 2018.

Using your senses to make observations by Amie Cox

This activity will introduce phenology to students and will serve as a ‘warm up’ to conducting more complex observations to be submitted to Natures Notebook. Students will observe one specimen on their own and practice making simple observations. Followed by a group discussion, students will have the opportunity to share out their process and submit one Nature’s Notebook observation into the database for Red Butte Garden.

This activity was submitted by Amie Cox from the Red Butte Garden for partial fulfulment of the requirements for the Local Phenology Leader Certification Program in the Spring of 2018.

Phenology for Master Naturalists

This phenology class was presented in a 3-hour training course for Master Naturalists.

The learning outcomes for the course are as follows:

  • Define phenology and explain how it is an indicator of climate change.
  • Summarize basic principles of ecology and how they relate to phenology
  • Describe the difference between weather and climate and describe the climates change through time
  • Describe phenology from a historical perspective, culturally and ecologically.
  • Define how data collect for Nature’s Notebook is utilized for research
  • Define citizen science and describe how it is utilized for research
  • Revisit/summarize the importance and value of nature journals

You may wish to assign Master Naturalists reading before hand, including famous naturalists' writing on the timing of phenological events through time. For this course the following reading assignments were given:

Phenology required reading:

Natural History of the Sonoran Desert:

  • Chapter 5, pages 27-35. “Sonoran Desert Natural Events Calendar.”

Phenology Suggested Reading:

  • Krutch, J.W. (1985). The Desert Year. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

The class included examples of phenological mismatch for the Sonoran Desert. This information can be swapped out for other geographic regions. It also included several hands-on activities in the field, exploring the Nature's Notebook protocols. Worksheets for the activities are included above. Homework assignments are also included.

Offered in addition to this lecture was a 3-hour field lab session designed to take a further look into the protocols and learn how to collect observations on species of interest at a nearby partner group site.

You can browse other Master Naturalist presentations in our workshop archive or here and here.

USA-NPN Curriculum Resource Number: 2018-001-W

Pages