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At Home Learning Resources


Are you looking for educational resources for your students or children? Polk County Conservation naturalists have a number of activities available below that are designed to be educational and fun. Naturalists are also available to set-up personalized Zoom programs with students. Please contact Patrice Petersen-Keys if you have additional program requests or suggestions for content at patrice.petersen-keys@polkcountyiowa.gov or 515-323-5359.

Mini Field Trips for At Home Learners

We recognize school learning looks different this year for all of us. To provide outdoor learning opportunities for school age children that may be learning at home, we’re offering mini two-hour field trips in a small group setting with a naturalist at Jester Park. Each small group will consist of five learning pods. A pod may consist of a parent with their children and their children’s friends. Adults must attend with children.  

AGES: Kindergarten – 8th grade, adults must attend with children

Life on the Prairie

The tall-grass prairie that once covered most of Iowa has disappeared, but small pockets remain. Join a naturalist to learn what life was like on the prairie. Students will learn about Native American cultures and Iowa’s prairie through games and hands-on activities. Recommended for grades 4th -6th.

Geology Rocks

Learn the basic of geology. We’ll discuss the three families of rocks, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic and how each are formed. Afterward we’ll “rock”out with some explosive and fun geological activities. Recommended for grades 3rd and up.

Survival 

If your child was stranded outdoors, would they know what to do? Students will learn important survival skills like plant identification and fire and shelter building. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Falling Leaves

Leaves are falling all around, red, yellow, green and brown. Join the naturalist for a fall woodland hike, as we discover how to identify oak, maple and other tree leaves.

Animal Signs

We’ll explore the park high and low to see if we can find some clues animals leave behind. Learn why some animals leave clues behind on purpose!  

Animals

Amphibians - This is a Facebook Live video about the resident amphibians at the Jester Park Nature Center.

Beaver Adaptations - This is a Facebook Live video about the amazing adaptations that beavers have.

Birds of Iowa – Learn what adaptations birds have and visit the Jester Park bird blind.

Bird Memory Game – print off the bird cards and cut them up into equal pieces. Mix up the bird cards and place them face down. Take turns turning over two cards at a time. If there is a match, that player goes again. Winner is the player with the most matches.

Bird Sounds Scavenger Hunt - do you hear some of these birds in your neighborhood? Credit: Woodbury County Conservation.

Bison of Jester Park - This is a Facebook Live video of a close up look at the resident bison herd at Jester Park.

Fish at Jester Park Nature Center - This is a Facebook Live video about the fish that live at the Jester Park Nature Center. You'll also catch a glimpse of how we feed our fish!

How Animals Move - Meet the Jester Park Nature Center education animals and observe how they move.

Insects vs. Spiders - Learn about the differences between insects and spiders with a live hissing cockroach and tarantula.

Insect Scavenger Hunt - Take a walk around your neighborhood to see if you can find these insects!

Life Cycle of an Insect - Learn about the life cycle or metamorphosis of an insect.

Owls of Iowa – This is a Facebook Live video about the common and not so common owls found in Iowa and their amazing adaptations.

Snake Adaptations - This is a Facebook Live video of the two of our education snakes at the Jester Park Nature Center. Get a close up look at how they swallow their prey!

Snakes are Reptiles - Learn why snakes are reptiles and meet two snakes that call Iowa home.

Superheroes of Nature - This is a Facebook Live video is about the amazing adaptations animals have.

Tadpoles of Polk County - Identification guide to common frog and toad tadpoles in Polk County

Turtle Talk - This is a Facebook Live video of two of the resident turtles at the Jester Park Nature Center.

Astronomy

Sizing Up the Moon - This is a Facebook Live video about Earth's moon and an activity to make a model of the moon out of playdough.

Geology & Soil

Be a Dirt (Soil) DetectiveHead outdoors, scoop up some soil, and start investigating! Credit: Next Step Adventure

Geology Rocks - This is a Facebook Live video about the differences between rocks and minerals. 

Geology Activities - Suggestions for easy crafts and activities involving rocks!

Make a Sediment Jar - Get a jar, soil, sand, and some water. Mix it up and see what happens! Credit: Next Step Adventure

Habitats

What Lives in a Wetland - Learn what lives in an Iowa wetland. 

Iowa Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Idenitification Key - Pictures and information about Iowa's aquatic macroinvertebrates.

Pond Scavenger Hunt - Print off this scavenger hunt and explore a pond near you!

Tallgrass Prairies of Iowa - Learn about Iowa's tallgrass prairies and what animals call the prairie home.

Woodlands of Jester Park - Learn how trees are different from each other and the importance of dead trees.

Plants & Seeds

All About Seeds – This is a Facebook Live video filmed for our monthly Toddler Tales series. Learn about the parts of a seed and what seeds need to grow.

How does Pollination Work? - Learn how pollination works, the types of pollinating animals and how plants attract them along with a "create your own flower" activity.

Pollinator Scavenger Hunt - Print off this scavenger hunt and take a walk around your neighborhood to look for these flowers and pollinators.

Life in a Log - This is a Facebook Live video about the process of decomposition and find out who may be living in a log.

Spring Ephmeral Wildflower Bingo - Print off these wildflower bingo cards and have fun exploring a woodland near you. Credit: Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

Tree Identification - Learn what taxonomy is and how to identify trees using a dichotomous key. Filmed in partnership with Iowa PBS. 

Tree Leaf Scavenger Hunt - Print off this scavenger hunt to see if you can find these trees in your neighbohood.

Woodland Wildflower GuidePictures and information of common Iowa woodland wildflowers. Credit: Jasper County Conservation Board.

Water

Water Quality Monitoring Program - This powerpoint presentation was developed for high school students about Polk County's Water Quality Monitoring Program. 

Water Rocks! - Water Rocks! is an award-winning statewide youth water education campaign based on the campus at Iowa State University. Check out their water themed songs, videos and games! 

Water Scavenger Hunt Sheet - Print off this sheet and head outside to see if you can find all the many places water is at in your neighborhood. An extra challenge is to record if the water you find is in a liquid, solid, or gaseous state.