Wetland Stewards Middle School Lessons and Activities

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NOTE: Wetland Stewards lessons are designed to be taught using the hands-on activities and small group investigations outlined, and with the use of inquiry-based techniques. Individual assessment through journal prompts in science notebooks is encouraged.


wetland stewarts food webLesson 1: Discovering the Wetlands

This is an introductory wetland lesson. Students become acquainted with the importance of wetlands and how human actions can impact them. They also become familiar with the various types of plants and animals that one might encounter while visiting a wetland, through various activities including bird watching, art, microscope use and a computer exercise.

pdfLesson Plan


Lesson 2: What's in Wetland Soil?

Does soil from different places have different proportions of organic and inorganic materials? In this lesson, students will perform tests and take measurements to determine how the composition of wetland soil compares to that of sandy soil.

pdfLesson Plan


Lesson 3: Horizons Under Ground: Digging through Wetland Soil

Students collect soil samples and compare the physical characteristics of each. The students learn how to determine different soil types based on soil texture, structure, and color.

pdfLesson Plan


Lesson 4: Nature's Recycling Program

In this lesson, students will understand that trash in the landfills pollutes the wetlands and that composting food waste can minimize negative impacts. They learn what compost is made from, the role microorganisms play in decomposition, and how to take care of a worm bin. The activities include observation of decomposed materials, a worm bin scavenger hunt, a computer game and microscope use, as well as a gardening experiment. This lesson requires follow up observations.

pdfLesson Plan
Adventures of Vermi the Worm (Interactive Game)
Links to Additional Resources


corralitos creekLesson 5: Wetland Water Testing

Using concentration card games, hands-on activities, computer activities, and water quality vocabulary, students understand some different properties that affect water quality, and learn to measure one chemical characteristic that helps determine water quality.

pdfLesson Plan


Lesson 6: Wetland Food Webs

What is the web of life? Why is it important to have diversity in an ecosystem? Through different role-playing games, students understand the relationship and importance of all forms of wetland life.

pdfLesson Plan
pdfWebbing Card Template


Lesson 7: Seeds of Wetland Life

How do seeds travel? Students investigate the adaptations different plants have made in order to spread their seed. Students make connections between seed dispersal and native and non-native plant populations and also participate in hands-on seed propagation. Other activities include a seed race, seed collection, a computer game, and a craft activity.

pdfLesson Plan

Online activity on seed travel
pdfSeeds Drawing Worksheet
movMovie clip on seed dispersal (MOV file, 20.53 MB)


Lesson 8: Pollinators and Wildflowers

Students will understand that plants depend on pollinators to reproduce and maintain their populations. They learn about wetland plant identification, plant anatomy and plant reproduction while dissecting local wetland flowers, they play in a pollinator relay race, then go outside to collect and identify local pollination insects.

pdfLesson Plan


Lesson 9: Wetland Plant Detectives

Students follow a scavenger hunt map through the reserve, learning to classify and identify wetland plants by type, using wetland plant wheels created by Pajaro Valley High School mentors.

pdfLesson Plan
Plant Wheel 1 (coming)
Plant Wheel 2 (coming)


wetland stewards weedingLesson 10: Next Stop, the Watsonville Wetlands

Students play games to learn the process of bird migration and understand that migrating birds depend on the wetlands. The students then follow the migration of the American white pelican from Mexico through the Watsonville Wetlands in an interactive online computer game.

pdfLesson Plan
Interactive Computer Game- American White Pelican Migration

pdfHopscotch cards - Restoration
pdfHopscotch cards - Threats


Lesson 11: Where do Birds Live?

Where do different wetland birds make their nests? Students explore some in-depth facts about two wetland cavity nesters, learn some benefits these birds provide to the wetland ecosystem, and make connections between the needs of cavity-nesting birds and human activity.

pdfLesson Plan
Links to Additional Resources


Lesson 12: Watershed Landscape

Students create a human landscape and interact with a watershed model and to make connections between topography, natural watershed features, water quality, and human activity.

pdfLesson Plan


Lesson 13: Traveling Through Time, Wetland Style

Using clue cards containing maps, photographs, and bits of information, students divide into small groups to piece together timelines of the cultural history of the Watsonville Wetlands. As they travel back in time, they examine changes in wildlife, agriculture, growth, and immigrant populations. Then the students imagine and draw what they think West Struve Slough would look like at different time periods.

pdfLesson Plan


Lesson 14: Sounds of the Wetlands

Students will develop their listening skills as they learn about different bird calls and other common sounds observed in the wetlands. The students participate in a bird tune game show, a blind-folded walk with docent partners, and a sound mapping activity.

pdfLesson Plan
ppsName that Tune Interactive Game


Lesson 15: Wild, Wild Wetland Life

Students become familiar with local plants and animals of the wetlands while playing a wildlife bingo game. The students then hunt for evidence of animal presence on the wetland ESHA by searching for scat, owl pellets, burrows, and other clues that point towards animal presence. The lesson concludes with owl pellet dissection and a discussion about wetland food chains including an owl food chain.

pdfLesson Plan
pdfWildlife Facts


Lesson 16: Nature Art

Students explore the beauty of the wetlands through an open-air water color activity. This is followed by the creation of sculptured clay models of native wetland animals.

pdfLesson Plan


Lesson 17: Field Guide to the Sloughs

Students learn how to use field guides as they construct their own class wetland wildlife guide or plant guide. The construction of the guide includes research, sketching, painting, photography, and descriptive writing.

pdfLesson Plan


wetland stewards restoration activityMATH IN THE WETLANDS SUMMER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

Lesson 1: Classroom Presentation- Introduction to the Wetlands

Students are introduced to the concept of a food web and accompanying ecological vocabulary. Then they explore West Struve Slough in small groups using binoculars, bird and plant guides, and the food web concept as tools to complete a wetland scavenger hunt.

pdfLesson Plan
pdfIntroduction to the Watsonville Wetlands Worksheet
Introduction to the Wetlands Presentation


Lesson 2: Math in the Wetlands Field Trip 1

Students conduct hands-on restoration and monitoring projects utilizing the fraction and volume math concepts they are covering in summer school. This practical application of math concepts includes transplanting native plants and monitoring invasive plant populations using transects and quadrats.

pdfLesson Plan
pdfWetland Scavenger Hunt Worksheet


Lesson 3: Classroom Presentation- Introduction to Restoration

Students are introduced to the concepts of ecological disruptors such as pollution and invasive plants. They also learn how local ecosystems change for the better - through restoration and other actions they can take both at home and in the community. This lesson includes an interactive PowerPoint presentation, a short skit about weed invasion, and a practice activity at monitoring weeds.

pdfLesson Plan
pdfFractions Worksheet
pdfWeed Invasion Story
pdfWeed Story Card Templates
ppsIntroduction to Restoration Presentation


Lesson 4: Math in the Wetlands Field Trip 2

Students conduct hands-on restoration and monitoring projects utilizing the fraction and volume math concepts they are covering in summer school. This practical application of math concepts includes transplanting native plants and monitoring invasive plant populations using transects and quadrats.

pdfLesson Plan
pdfPlant Population Quadrat Sampling Worksheet- Classroom
pdfPlant Population Quadrat Sample Data Collection Sheet
pdfCreate Your Own Potting Mixture

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Watsonville Wetlands Watch
PO Box 1239
Freedom, CA 95019-1239
Voice: 831-728-1156
Fax: 831-728-6944
Offices at the Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center

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