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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.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • K-ESS3-3 Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of 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
      • MS-LS2-5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
      • 2-LS2-2 Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.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.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.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.
    • Writing (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.1.8 With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • National Core Arts Standards
    • Dance: Standard 1 - Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
      • DA:Cr1.1.2a Explore movement inspired by a variety of stimuli (for example, music/sound, text, objects, images, symbols, observed dance, experiences) and suggest additional sources for movement ideas.
    • Music: Standard 1 - Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
      • MU:Cr1.1.2a Improvise rhythmic and melodic patterns and musical ideas for a specific purpose.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 1 - Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
      • VA:Cr1.1.1a Engage collaboratively in exploration and imaginative play with materials.
      • VA:Cr1.2.2a Make art or design with various materials and tools to explore personal interests, questions, and curiosity.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 2 - Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
      • VA:Cr2.3.Ka Create art that represents natural and constructed environments.
      • VA:Cr2.1.1a Explore uses of materials and tools to create works of art or design.
      • VA:Cr2.3.2a Repurpose objects to make something new.
      • VA:Cr2.1.4a Explore and invent art-making techniques and approaches.
  • National Health Education Standards
    • Standard 5: Students will demonstrate the ability to use decision-making skills to enhance health.
      • 5.5.5 Choose a healthy option when making a decision.
    • Standard 7: Students will demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.
      • 7.2.1 Demonstrate healthy practices and behaviors to maintain or improve personal health.
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