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Science, Place-Based

Exploring Ecosystems

Learn about the ecosystems that are specific to your part of the world! 

An ecosystem is a biological community of plants, animals, and other organisms that interact and work together within the environment … it’s a little bubble of life! 

In the Playful Learning Studio, we spend the last month of the school year learning about different types of ecosystems and then narrow our focus to the ones found on the East End of Long Island. Each of our classes extends its learning by visiting one of these local areas for a special field experience.

Whether your local ecosystems consist of woodlands, ponds, farms, mountain streams, meadows, or coastal waterways, your children will love exploring, uncovering, and documenting the flora and fauna that exists in their own communities. 

Here are some tips for exploring your local ecosystems

  • Brainstorm a few of the ecosystems in your area. An ecosystem can be as simple as life in and around a tree or under a small rock.
  • Do a little preliminary reading to enhance your experience. Observe and identify the variety of animals, birds, insects, and plants that coexist within the ecosystem. Picture books can really “set the stage” for the experience and get children thinking and asking questions. We have a short list below, but a Google search can be as simple as “pond picture books.” 
  • Learn about the food chains and food webs found within the ecosystem. 
  • Take along a camera and nature journal (a blank Moleskine) to document, draw, and write about your observations. 
  • When you return home from the field experience, choose and print out a collection of photographs that your child would like to include in their journal. Mount the pictures onto the blank pages and draw lines below each one. Leave the journal out on a table for children to discover when they’re feeling inspired. 

What part of the field experience inspired or excited your child the most?

Books to Inspire:

* This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Resources and Inspiration (members only):

Pond Exploration Thematic Unit

Farms and Farming Thematic Unit

Sea Life Thematic Unit

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Playful Learning Field Guides

Grab these handy field guides on your way to park or walk around the block. Add a basket for collecting and a magnifying glass for observing you are set for a memorable outdoor adventure