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If you’re looking to add nature studies and educational outdoor activities to your child’s at-home school day during the pandemic, Maine educators have you covered.
Several Maine schools and organizations that specialize in outdoor education create videos and post them online as free lessons — and entertainment. In fact, more educators have started doing this in recent weeks, since schools have closed their classrooms due to COVID-19.
Many of these videos are created with children in mind, but many can also be enjoyed by adults who are interested in learning about nature or looking to get outside in their backyards and try something new. Here are just a few to get you started.
1. “Nature Moments: How to Build a Bird’s Nest” by Nat Wheelwright
Nat Wheelwright is a professor of natural sciences at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, and is the creator of the series “Nature Moments,” which comprises nearly 50 short videos spanning all seasons. Each episode offers a new way to observe and interact with nature right at home.
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2. “Maple Tree Tapping For Kids – No Special Tools Needed!” with Koviashuvik Local Living School
The Knapp family runs Koviashuvik Local Living School in Temple, and they’ve recently started the Local Living Video Project to continue to teach outdoor skills and homesteading skills during the pandemic.
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3. “Meet Sparky the Great Horned Owl” by Chewonki
Chewonki — a school, camp and environmental education organization based in Wiscasset — started creating “Nature News” videos in March. These videos are streamed live on Facebook and posted on the Chewonki@home web page. Each episode stars an “animal ambassador,” which are wild animals that can no longer survive in the wild for a variety of reasons. These animals live at the Chewonki wildlife center and are used in educational programs to represent their species.
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4. “Nature Nuggets: Nature Journal” by The Ecology School
The Ecology School in Saco started producing short videos called “Nature Nuggets” in March to help connect people with nature in their backyards. These videos are produced by Meg Edstrome Jones, the director of educational partnerships at The Ecology School. She plans to post a new “nugget” at least once a week.
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5. “Nature at Home #1: The Shape of Things” with Maine Project Learning Tree
Maine Project Learning Tree just posted their first “Nature at Home” video on Facebook on March 31. Filmed in the University of Maine forest in Orono, the video stars Joanne Alex, co-founder of the Stillwater Montessori School in Old Town, as she reads a book and walks viewers through a related outdoor activity that involves finding natural objects of different shapes. You can watch that here.
In an effort to get the word out about these educational videos and other online resources for parents and educators, the Maine Environmental Education Association has created an ever-growing, crowd-sourced Google Doc list. The association is also a part of a collaborative effort to create a new website called Community Learning for ME, which is scheduled to launch sometime in the coming weeks.
“It’s going to be focused on Maine with a ton of [education] resources,” said Olivia Griset, executive director of Maine Environmental Education Association. “It’s going to be curated with a calendar, so if you’re a parent, you can see when live sessions are going to be. And there will be portals for parents, teachers and organizations [that contribute content].”
For now, educators are doing their best to share their videos on social media to reach as many people as possible.