Join Maine TREE’s Director of Education, Jessie Rack, for a series of interactive 30-minute workshops geared to provide fresh tips, tricks, and tools for educators. Drawing from the standards-aligned forest-based Project Learning Tree curriculum, these sessions discuss adaptations to remote, hybrid, or in-person learning – all in a fun, hands-on format. From scavenger hunts to nature journaling, let’s look to the forest for inspiration to keep learners active and engaged. Each session is paired with downloadable lesson plans, so educators leave with the tools to implement the techniques they see. 

Introduction: Engaging Learners with Forest-Based Activities

Welcome to the Engaging Learners Series! In this introductory episode, we explore biotic and abiotic elements of the forest ecosystem. Jessie is joined by UMaine Professor of Education Tim Surrette to kick off the series with general tips for remote teaching and engagement and quick demonstrations of several hands-on techniques. 

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Forest Observations and Nature Journaling

Grab your journal and colored pencils! In this session, we’re observing to learn with two complementary journaling activities. The first, drawn from Project Learning Tree’s “The Closer You Look” activity, guides students to increase their knowledge of tree structure and form through close observation. In the second activity, students are given three tools to deepen their observation practice: “I notice…” “I wonder…,” and “This reminds me of…” 

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Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are a great tool to engage learners – but have you ever tried to do one remotely? In this session, we share ideas for scavenger hunts (indoors and out) and feature Project Learning Tree’s “We All Need Trees” activity. In an interactive scavenger hunt, students search their surroundings for items made from trees, only to find that this may include more items than they knew. 

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Gamification

Gamification is a way to inspire participation and engage learners by invoking techniques from…you guessed it…games! This session will explore ways to use the forest – and maybe a little friendly competition – to amp up an otherwise boring lesson. Two examples from Project Learning Tree have students acting as tree doctors (appropriate for remote or in-person) and learning about competition for resources with poker chips (yep, that one’s better in person). Grab your journal and a pencil and let’s play!

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Mapping

Sound maps, treasure maps, string loops – there are lots of ways to teach map skills in engaging and forest-based ways! This session will demonstrate a mapping exercise that can be done remotely (Map Your Habitat!) or in -person, with tie-ins to data literacy and a slight hint of pirates.

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