The Oregon State University Extension Service Outdoor School program is offering resources to engage children in learning about nature while adhering to Oregon’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” order.

A new page at the Extension Outdoor School website is designed to help parents, guardians and teachers to support outdoor learning experiences while schools are out of session.

The page, which can be translated to Spanish, is updated every Friday with weekly resource sets with nature observations, journal prompts and online activities. So far, the themes have been birds, trees and flowers. Outdoor School is also linking to the resource sets on its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

“These weekly themes simplify matters for families who are sorting out a lot of information about at-home activities,” said Kristopher Elliott, an OSU Extension assistant director who leads the Outdoor School program. “Given all the time we’re spending inside, these are unique resources to help families keep children connected to their natural environment in a meaningful way.”

Nearly 400 new users have visited the webpage since it launched in late March.

“It’s not just families who are accessing the resources,” said Kristi Backe, Extension Outdoor School’s curriculum and professional development coordinator. “Nearly 17 percent of unique visits to the weekly resource sets come from Google Classroom, suggesting that teachers are directing parents and students to the resource sets as part of their distance learning.”

“We picked topics that are accessible to many students,” Backe added. “Things that you can see out a window.”

“We wanted to focus on curating these resources into manageable pieces so they’re not overwhelming families,” she said. “It only takes a couple of minutes to read through each topic.”

To get started, go to outdoorschool.oregonstate.edu and click on “Educational Resources.”

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