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How-To Guide for Schoolyard Habitats

National Wildlife Federation's "How-To Guide" for Schoolyard Habitats® walks through the steps to creating a successful and sustainable wildlife garden, provides information on teaching in an outdoor classroom, and offers resources to help create and maintain your habitat.

We've broken out the guide into seven sections below, to walk you through the process and provide lesson plans.

PART 1: Welcome to the Schoolyard Habitats Program (pdf)
What is a Schoolyard Habitat and how does it benefit students, teachers, our school and our community? Find answers to these topics, a list of frequently asked questions, and how NWF's Schoolyard Habitats program can help you along the way as you build an outdoor classroom and a new home for wildlife.

  • Greetings from National Wildlife Federation
  • Schoolyard Habitats Program Overview
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Articles: "Down by the Schoolyard" and "The Schoolyard Habitats Movement"

PART 2: Gardening for Wildlife (pdf)
Learn what wildlife species need from their habitat, how to fulfill those needs through your Schoolyard Habitat, and how to attract certain wildlife to your site.

  • Ecology 101
  • Introduction to Native Plants
  • Habitat Basics
  • Butterfly Gardening
  • Restoration Projects
  • Soil
  • Composting
  • Container Gardening

PART 3: Teaching with Schoolyard Habitat Sites (pdf)
Find techniques and activities for teaching grades K-12 in an outdoor classroom on a variety of subjects, and ways to analyze and manage your curriculum.

  • Reaching High Academic Standards on the Schoolyard
  • Analyze Your Curriculum
  • Schoolyard Habitats and Service Learning

PART 4: Gathering Information (pdf)
A guide through key steps to begin your Schoolyard Habitat, including gathering a team, choosing a site and planning out your garden, and activities to keep students involved from beginning to end.

Create a Habitat Team

  • Habitat Team Roles
  • Team Planning Worksheet

Develop Your Vision

  • Visioning Worksheet
  • Our Schoolyard Habitats Vision

Conduct a Site Inventory and Choose Your Site

  • Introducation
  • Habitat Hunt (K-8)
  • Who Can Live Here? (9-12)
  • Schoolyard Biodiversity (K-8)
  • Wildlife Where You Live (9-12)
  • Basic Site Inventory (9-12)
  • Advanced Site Inventory (9-12)

PART 5: Assembling the Elements (pdf)
Checklists and steps to finalize your plan, help gathering resources like volunteers and funds, important factors to optimize your habitat's design and accessibility, and suggested steps and activities as you break new ground and coordinate the planting.

  • Design Considerations
  • Discouraging Vandalism
  • Accessibility Guidelines
  • Putting It All Together
  • Project Planning
  • Acquiring Resources
  • Creating a Budget
  • Fundraising
  • Engaging Volunteers
  • Breaking New Ground
  • Planting Your Site
  • Planning a Planting Day

PART 6: Ensuring Continued Success (pdf)
Make sure your habitat site continues to thrive for years to come with key steps including a maintenance plan for the site, process for regular site upkeep, and activities to keep students and their parents involved.

  • Creating a Maintenance Plan
  • Creating a Field and Care Guide
  • Monitoring Projects
  • Parent Involvement
  • Schoolyard Habitats Certification

PART 7: Appendix and Resources (pdf)
Find additional information on NWF's mission and education programs, workshop overviews, NWF contact information for school based programs, tips for teaching outdoors, a glossary of terms and more.

  • NWF's Mission and Education Programs
  • Creating Schoolyard Habitats Workshop Overview
  • NWF Contact Information
  • Site Design Guidelines for New Schools
  • Pacing and Baseline Mapping and Mapping Scale
  • Tips for Teaching Outdoors
  • Glossary of Terms
  • Careers in Conservation
  • Resources
  • Feedback Form

Once you've certified your Schoolyard Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation you can order a Schoolyard Habitats sign

Schoolyard Habitat sign 

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