Environmental Education in the Garden

Environmental Education Activity Guides

The Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE) offers a variety of environmental education workshops to enhance your school garden curriculum. KACEE's environmental education materials encompass five core programs which provide hands-on minds-on activities addressing water, soil, wildlife, habitat, energy, and a variety of other topics that can complement your school garden lesson plans.

If you participated in one of KACEE's Dig In to School Gardens workshops, you received four basic activity guides and experienced several activities related to topics your students will explore in your school garden. These activity guides are only available through participation in a KACEE workshop. Click here for a list of upcoming workshops.


List of activity guides with suggestions for garden-related activities from each guide:

Basic Programs for Pre K-Grade 12:


Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree (PLT), long recognized as one of the premier environmental education programs in the world, uses the forest and trees as "windows" into the natural and built environments. The PLT activity guide contains activities on topics that include biodiversity, sustainability, and ecosystems and use environmental explorations as ways to engage students in language arts, math, science, and social studies. The activities help students gain awareness of the world around them and their place in it. PLT Energy and Society is the most recent edition and adds energy to the variety of topics addressed in PLT. Project Learning Tree is co-sponsored by the Kansas Forest Service, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Kansas Corporation Commission/State Energy Office. Learn more...

  • Pass the Plants, Please – explore the role of plants in our daily diets
  • Rain Reasons – experiments with rainfall, sunlight and temperature
  • Every Drop Counts – find out how to conserve water in the classroom and at home
  • Then and Now – view pictures & interview elders to find out how your community and landscape have changed
  • How Plants Grow – experiments with sunlight, water, air, nutrients, and space
  • Sunlight and Shades of Green – introduction to photosynthesis
  • Have seeds, will travel – observe, collect, and classify seeds
  • Water Wonders – make connections between the water cycle and all living things
  • Web of Life – research and simulate a food web
  • Schoolyard Safari – explore the schoolyard habitat
  • Field, Forest and Stream – explore how non-living elements influence living elements in an ecosystem
  • Planning the Ideal Community – explore components of the human community and how basic needs are met
  • Publicize It! – conduct a service learning project and use the media to inform others in the community
  • Looking at Leaves – find out about leaf characteristics & how leaves can be used to identify plants
  • Soil Stories – explore differences in soil types and their impact on people and plants
  • A Peek at Packaging – examine pros and cons of different packaging strategies
  • Global Climate, The – learn abou the relationship between CO2 and the earth’s climate
  • Improve your Place – plan and carry out a service learning project on school grounds


Project WET

Project WET is an exciting water education program which focuses on water related topics including atmospheric, surface, and ground water; water history; chemistry; watersheds; water economics; wetlands; water rights; water conservation; and water stewardship. The topics are explored in engaging, hands-on and creative ways to promote critical thinking, problem solving, and responsible decision making in water related issues. Project WET is the cornerstone for many of the water festivals taking place across the state. Project WET is co-sponsored by the Kansas Water Office / Kansas Water Authority through the State Water Plan fund. Learn more...

  • Aqua Bodies - water is the main ingredient in living organisms
  • The Life Box- students discover 4 essential factors to sustain life
  • People of the Bog- construct a classroom bog and discuss decomposition
  • Salt Marsh Players- how organisms add to life in a salt marsh
  • Thirsty Plants- transpiration and plants in the water cycle
  • Water Address- water related adaptations of plants and animals
  • Capture, Store and Release- wetlands investigations
  • The Incredible Journey- how water moves through the water cycle
  • Just Passing Through- how vegetation affects movement of water
  • Common Water- water is a shared resource-farmers
  • Drop in the Bucket- Fresh water that is available for use
  • Irrigation Interpretation- Irrigation systems
  • Sum of the Parts- shared water
  • Where are the Frogs?- acidic water affects life
  • Dust Bowls- how droughts and floods affect life


Project WILD

Project WILD is an environmental education resource program that helps participants develop an awareness, appreciation and understanding of wildlife. This workshop has a follow-up component to it, Project WILD Aquatic. While Project WILD can be offered alone, it is usually offered in conjunction with its follow-up component, Project WILD Aquatic. Project WILD is co-sponsored by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Learn more...

  • Eco-Enrichers – evaluate the contributions of plant and animal matter to soil
  • Energy Pipeline – see how energy is transferred from the sun to plants to herbavoires and then carnivores etc.
  • Lobster in Your Lunch Box – identify foods that are derived from plants, animals (all were wild originally)
  • Seed Need – explain how seeds are carried by animals
  • What Did Your Lunch Cost Wildlife? – trace foods from their source to the consumer
  • What’s for Dinner? – students generalize that all animals, including people, depend on plants as a food source, either directly or indirectly


Project WILD Aquatic

The importance of water to all forms of life inspired Project WILD Aquatic. It invites us to explore and understand the fascinating world of water and the life it supports. Project WILD Aquatic is co-sponsored by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Learn more...

  • Silt: A Dirty Word – describe how sand, silt, or both affect water flow
  • Water We Eating – Identify foods derived from aquatic sources and their geographic origins



Additional programs featuring specific curricua for both early childhood and secondary educators are also available:

Programs for Secondary Educators:


Project Learning Tree Secondary Modules

There are currently six secondary modules available in the Exploring Environmental Issues series. They include: Focus on Risk; Focus on Forests; Municipal Solid Waste; and The Changing Forest: Forest Ecology; Forests of the World; and Places we Live. KACEE workshop participants can have the opportunity to purchase the secondary modules for $7 each at the workshop or the workshop fee can include the additional cost up front. Training in one module allows participants to purchase any other secondary modules. Learn more...


Leopold Education Project

The Leopold Education Project (LEP) is an innovative, interdisciplinary, conservation and environmental education activity guide based on the classic writings of the renowned conservationist, Aldo Leopold. These literature-based lessons are correlated to the Kansas State Core Curricular Standards for grades 6-12. KACEE offers the Kansas Edition of the LEP Activity Guide, which includes Kansas-specific background information and resources to connect Kansas learners with local ecosystems. Two additional activity guides, LEP Lessons in GPS Technology (for outdoor exploration using GPS) and LEP Exploring the Outdoors with Aldo Leopold (for non-formal educators) may also be incorporated into specialty workshops. Learn more...


Programs for Early  Childhood Educators:

PLT: Enviromental Experiences for Early Childhood

PLT's Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood encourages children to explore, discover, and communicate in expressive ways, and provides an introduction to environmental education at a key developmental period in children's lives.Developed with preschool educators and early childhood specialists, the guide is designed for educators who work with children ages 3 to 6. It offers over 130 experiences that engage children in outdoor play and exploration. Topics include exploring nature with five senses, meeting neighborhood trees, and experiencing trees through the seasons. An accompanying CD features music from children's musician Billy B. Brennan that encourages children to sing, dance, and move. Learn more...


Growing Up WILD: Exploring Nature with Young Children

Growing Up WILD: Exploring Nature with Young Children is designed to help educators and caregivers of children ages 3-7 engage young children in activities that encourage exploration of the outdoors. With activities written by educators and wildlife professionals and reviewed by experts in early childhood education, the guide provides an early foundation for developing active, healthy children who appreciate nature and are prepared to enter school with ample learning skills. Growing Up WILD features 27 field-tested, hands-on, nature based activities in a full-color 11”x17” activity guide. Learn more...

  • Wiggling Worms – children learn about and observe earthworms
  • Lunch for a Bear – children identify the kinds of foods that black bears eat by creating a plate of “bear food”  and then also compare how humans have to eat a healthy variety of foods too
  • Show Me the Energy! – Children discover that all animals, including people, depend on plants as a food source, either directly or indirectly
  • Seed Need – Children explore seeds as food for people and animals and learn how animals spread seeds