The Outdoor and Environmental Education Department (OEE) has been hard at work visiting schools and getting students outside to engage with nature in their home communities.   We are excited to continue these wonderful school visits while also reopening our centres to classes!

What OEE does:

  1. Deliver high quality, contextual and immersive experiences in nature at our nature centres that improve student mental/social and physical well-being.
  2. Support schoolyard learning through programming, resources, schoolyard naturalization and staff training.
  3. Advocate for the support teachers and staff require to educate an environmentally responsible citizenry with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to tackle complex global issues.
  4. Develop cooperative partnerships within the WRDSB and the broader community that promote sustainable living and enable our students to participate in activities that protect the environment in meaningful, authentic ways.

What you can do…  Take your Class Outside!

Taking your class outside has many, well documented benefits for students mental, social and physical well-being.  To learn more check out our Schoolyard Learning page.

To get you started we have compiled a few resources that you can use at almost any school site to enrich outdoor experience.

Mini lesson plans

Check out these mini lesson plans that require little prep and very few materials.

Printable Resources for the Winter

As the weather gets cooler a fun excursion outside might require a few extra layers but there are still lots of meaningful ways to enjoy the schoolyard.  Check out some of these resources for when the snow flies!

Animal Tracks!  – A dichotomous key of the most common mammals found at schools in the WRDSB.

Click here to download a pdf of our wildlife tracking key.

Wildlife Tracking Scavenger Hunt

Click here to download a pdf of our wildlife tracking scavenger hunt.


Winter Birds ID Key

Click here to download the complete copy of our Winter Bird ID Key.

Winter Tree ID Key

Ever wondered how to identify a tree species in winter?  Look no further than our twig key.

We have chosen to focus on species that occur frequently at school sites and in residential areas in Waterloo Region.  Our twig key is available as a 4 page pdf that can be printed and taken outside.  We recommend printing double sided on thick paper and laminating so that this key can be used over and over, and/or sanitized between cohorts.

Winter Tree Twig Scavenger Hunt

Click here to download a pdf of our Twig Scavenger Hunt

Printable Resources for the Fall and Spring

If you would like to borrow laminated copies of the following resources please contact one of our Outdoor Education Specialists.

School Trees Identification Key – explore thirty four of the most common schoolyard trees found in Waterloo Region.

To request this resources use this google form: Leaf and Tree Identification


Backyard Birds Identification Key – Learn about the birds that live in our backyards and at our schools

Download the full key with 34 bird species here.


Schoolyard Invertebrate Key and Poster – In the spring and early fall use these keys to learn about the most common invertebrates that can be found on our school sites.

Download the full key here with 34 of the most common invertebrates students can find in our school yards.  Consider using these while conducting a bug hunt in your schools Monarch Waystation.

And the Poster!

Download the 27×39 inch poster as a pdf here.



The Outdoor and Environmental Education Team maintains a wide variety of resources that help to make an outdoor experience both fun and educational.  We use these resources at our sites but loan them out regularly as well.  Examples include class sets of snow shoes, binoculars, bug nets, magnifiers, chemical/digital test kits, print resources, and more.  If you would like to borrow some equipment contact an Outdoor and Environmental Education Specialist directly.


Schoolyard Naturalization

Our current schoolyard naturalization project focuses on creating space to protect Endangered Monarch Butterflies, we call these gardens Monarch Waystations.  If your school doesn’t already have one please check out our Monarch Waystation page to learn about the process and how to sign your school up.


Staff Training

If you would like to talk with an Outdoor Education Specialst about schoolyard learning or arrange for one of us to join you for some professional development at your school please contact Levi Moore (OEE Specialist).