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  1. Illinois DNR
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Early Learning and Development Standards

Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant
and the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards
 
Illinois has a great diversity of natural resources. Taking your students on a field trip to see and study some of them can be a wonderful experience and can help you to incorporate Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards in science and other subject areas into your teaching. It provides an opportunity for students to observe and study topics that they have discussed in the classroom. It makes abstract concepts more concrete. It provides students with a base of knowledge from which to expand. How can students understand the way the natural world works if they do not regularly visit, explore and observe it? The items listed below are suggestions and only relate to Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards in science. Please do not be limited by the suggestions. It is possible to incorporate Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards in other subject areas, as well.
 
NOTE: Students should be made aware before the field trip that animals should not be touched. Students should also be taught that while on the field trip, they should talk quietly and not disturb animals and/or other humans. For more information, see the Field Trip Tips Web page.
 
Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards
 
Goal 11 Demonstrate curiosity about the world and begin to use the
practices of science and engineering to answer questions and solve problems.
 
Learning Standard 11.A Develop beginning skills in the use of science and engineering practices, such as observing, asking questions, solving problems and drawing conclusions.
 
What could we do?
Take the students on a hike at a natural area. Have them participate in a silent hike. They should walk without talking, but they should be listening, watching and smelling. Go a short distance and then stop to ask them what they saw, heard and smelled. Ask them what questions they may have about what they observed. Talk about how they might work to answer those questions. If possible, now or when you return to school, have the students set up their solution to the question and then draw a conclusion from the results. Now try silent sitting. Have the students sit quietly without making sounds along a path in a natural area to make their observations. Did they observe anything that they did not observe while walking? What further questions do they have? How can those questions be answered? If possible, have the students set up a plan to find the answers to their questions.
 
Where could we go?
Illinois state parks, city parks, national wildlife refuges, forest preserve district sites, nature centers, conservation district sites, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites
 
Goal 12 Explore concepts and information about the physical, earth and life sciences.
 
Learning Standard 12.A Understand that living things grow and change.
 
What could we do?
Visit a natural area. Observe animals and plants as you take the students for a hike. Show them young animals and their parents. Birds (especially ducks and geese) in spring provide easily observed adults and young. Have the students look for differences between the adults and young. Show them mature trees and their offspring as well as any fruits that the trees may have produced. Have them compare young birds with young trees. How are they alike? How are they not alike? Have them compare mature trees with mature birds. How are they alike and not alike? Students can also be looking for living versus nonliving objects. Have them suggest some examples of each type from observations they make while on the hike. They should have reasons to back up their suggestions.
 
Where could we go?
Illinois state parks, city parks, national wildlife refuges, forest preserve district sites, nature centers, conservation district sites, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites
 
Learning Standard 12.B Understand that living things rely on the environment and/or others to live and grow.
 
What could we do?
In the classroom, talk about some common animals and plants (squirrels, American robins, spiders, ants, butterflies, trees, wildflowers) and what they need to live and grow. After they have learned about this concept, take them to a natural area where these species can be observed. Have the students look for and point out the food, water, shelter and space available to the animals and plants. If possible, go to several habitat types at the same location. For instance, you may be able to visit a pond/wetland/lake, a forest and a prairie. What differences do the students find in the availability of these habitat components in the various habitat types? Do they think the results help to determine what can live in each habitat? How are the needs of the wild animals similar to those of any pets that they may have? How are they different?
 
Where could we go?
Illinois state parks, city parks, national wildlife refuges, forest preserve district sites, nature centers, conservation district sites, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites
 
Learning Standard 12.C Explore the physical properties of objects.
 
What could we do?
Take students to a natural area to explore physical properties such as color, texture, smell and shape. Let them feel, smell, observe and describe tree bark (avoiding any poison ivy that may be present). Let them touch, smell, observe and describe stones, if present. Let them touch, smell, observe and describe different types of grasses and wildflowers. Conduct a natural scavenger hunt for all of the colors in the rainbow. If possible, do so in spring and fall of the year. Conduct another scavenger hunt in nature for common shapes. See if the students can find five different smells on their walk.
 
Where could we go?
Illinois state parks, city parks, national wildlife refuges, forest preserve district sites, nature centers, conservation district sites, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites
 
Learning Standard 12.D Explore concepts of force and motion.
 
What could we do?
Visit a natural area to observe the effects of wind and water.  Ask students to define/describe wind. How do they know when wind is present? Can they feel it? Can they see it? Can they smell it? Can they hear it? Can the see the results of it? Ask them to show you some examples. You may see leaves moving from the force of the wind. You may see waves on water caused by wind. You may see branches broken or trees blown over from the force of the wind. You may see a flag flying from the force of wind. Now look at the forces of water. Try to look at water moving in a stream as well as water contained in a pond or lake. How do they know that water is present? Can they see it? Can they hear it? Can they touch it? Can they smell it? Does water move? How do they know? What could they do to show that water moves? What can water do to the land that it touches? Let the students discuss these concepts and ask any questions they may have. If possible, see if they can find a way to answer the questions either on the field trip or on their return to the classroom.
 
Where could we go?
Illinois state parks, city parks, national wildlife refuges, forest preserve district sites, nature centers, conservation district sites, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites
 
Goal 13 Understand important connections and understandings in science and engineering.
 
Learning Standard 13.B Use tools and technology to assist with science and engineering investigations.  
 
What could we do?
Use tools such as magnifying glasses, thermometers, digital cameras, tablet computers, tape measures, compasses, binoculars and other tools on your field trip to help the students explore, measure and record data. These items can easily be incorporated into a field trip for studying one of the topics listed above or can be used in a technology focused field trip.
 
Where could we go?
Illinois state parks, city parks, national wildlife refuges, forest preserve district sites, nature centers, conservation district sites, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites