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Green Schoolyards America


K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, English Language Arts, Visual and Performing Arts, Health, Social-Emotional Learning, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Digital Text, 220 pages
  • Lesson Plan
  • Activity - Outdoors
  • Game
  • Artwork
  • Project
  • Experiment

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - West, USA - Midwest, Wisconsin



Living Schoolyard Activity Guide

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  • This comprehensive activity guide contains over 100 activities that encourage the use of school grounds for place-based learning, artistic expression, imaginative play, and an appreciation for ecological stewardship.
  • A table of contents outlines activities related to art, social and emotional well-being, schoolyard agriculture and food, place-based understanding, wildlife and habitat, watershed stewardship, energy and climate, thoughtful use of materials, and community engagement.
  • There are multiple opportunities for hands-on learning and experiences in nature through these engaging activities.
Teaching Tips


  • This resource contains a table of contents and index to quickly locate topics or related vocabulary.
  • Each activity is succinct and well-organized, including appropriate age groups, directions, necessary materials, and contributions.
  • It provides an opportunity for all children at school to have access to nature.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers should take time to read the introductory information, including "About this Guide" and "The Power and Potential of Green Schoolyards" for more comprehensive information on the topic before beginning.
  • This resource is written by 122 organizations across the United States and additional background information about them is included.
  • The Index starting on page 205 provides a quick way to find contributing organizations or activities listed by contributing organization, subject, grade level, topic, or activity type.


  • Have older students read the introductory information on The Green Schoolyard Movement (on pages 7-9) as a reading comprehension activity, writing about or discussing the background and purpose of the movement.
  • Consider having students submit stories about their outside adventures and celebrations using the directions and email address on page 21.
  • Art teachers can refer to the background information and table of contents beginning on page 23 for activities related to drawing and painting or sculpture, textiles, and carpentry.  
  • Language arts classes can use the creative writing activities, beginning on page 36.
  • There are art, music, and dance activities to provide enriching outdoor activities in a fun and creative way.
  • Give students time to further research some of the contributing organizations, using the map as a reference.
Scientist Notes
This guide bundles over 130 outdoor activities for children between the ages of 3-18 years to improve their learning on environmental sustainability and to celebrate the international school grounds month. Through the experiential and place-based learning embedded in this guide, students will learn new art skills, learn improved ways to protect watersheds and ecologically-sensitive hotspots, and advocate for communities to transition to clean and renewable energy. The materials are well-cited and could be replicated in other regions outside of the United States. Thus, this guide is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.1.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
      • SL.8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • Writing (K-12)
      • W.1.8 With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
      • W.6.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, voice, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
      • W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • Visual & Performing Arts
    • Visual Arts: Standard 1 - Generating and conceptualizing ideas.
      • 1.5.2.Cr1a: Engage in individual and collaborative exploration of materials and ideas through multiple approaches, from imaginative play to brainstorming, to solve art and design problems.
      • 1.5.2.Cr1b: Engage in individual and collaborative art making through observation and investigation of the world, and in response to personal interests and curiosity.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 2 - Organizing and developing ideas.
      • 1.5.2.Cr2a: Through experimentation, build skills and knowledge of materials and tools through various approaches to art making.
      • 1.5.2.Cr2c: Create art that represents natural and constructed environments. Identify and classify uses of everyday objects through drawings, diagrams, sculptures or other visual means including repurposing objects to make something new.
      • 1.5.5.Cr2a: Experiment and develop skills in multiple art-making techniques and approaches, through invention and practice.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • K-ESS3-3. Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of climate change and humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
      • HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • 2-LS2-2. Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.
      • MS-LS2-5. Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
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