Nature-Based Learning at Children’s School of Rochester #15

Rochester Ecology Partners is offering Nature-based learning services to the Children’s School of Rochester #15 community. The goal of this collaboration is improved wellness, academic achievement and community relationships for students, staff, and families.


Teachers: Sign Up for NBL

Questions can be sent to Lindsay Clark

Teachers: Post NBL Experience Survey

What is nature-based learning?

Nature-based learning occurs when education is connected to the natural world. Students can participate in outdoor experiences that complement and enhance the curriculum, or bring outdoor artifacts and ideas into their classrooms to create more robust educational opportunities. For the 2023-24 school year we are working together to offer experiences that get the school community more connected to nature.

More about Nature Based Learning with Schools

Why is nature-based learning important?

  • Healthy communication and improved reasoning skills
  • Improved emotional, mental, and physical health
  • Improved academic performance 
  • Greater school, students, families, and community connections

What activities can we support?

Social emotional learning experiences Mindfulness activities and nature immersion that build students’ capacity for self regulation, enhance collaboration skills, and support their general well-being
Nearby Nature Field Studies Core curriculum aligned field studies on or near the school grounds that are designed to provide students with direct experience with natural phenomenon, build habits of mind, and develop future ready skills
Off site Field Experience Core curriculum-aligned field experiences within Greater Rochester that are designed to provide deep, nature immersion experiences for students that build self-confidence, connect to academic knowledge and classroom skills, and develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Coaching and Program Design Support with creating nature based learning experiences for teachers to lead in and out of the classroom with or without connections to other field experiences led by Rochester Ecology Partners
Faculty Professional Learning Opportunities for teachers to learn and grow as educators by engaging them in activities that build relationships to the natural world and each other while building everyone’s capacity to engage students in nature-based learning

What support do we offer?

  • We can lead activities. Our staff will lead activities using lessons that we have developed to meet learning targets that have been established by the teacher
  • We can collaboratively design lessons. Someone from our team can meet with teachers to develop lesson plans that meet curricular goals
  • We can support activities. Rochester Ecology Partners can provide staff to assist with teacher led nature based learning activities. 

How does it work?

Rochester Ecology Partners received a grant from the Joan Rothenberg Family Foundation to support this work. This has created a “bank” of services we can provide to the school. Teachers can sign up for activities and lessons guided by Rochester Ecology Partners between March 1 and the end of the school year.

  1. Figure out what you want to do (even a little idea is enough!).
  2. Fill out this google form to share your interest.
  3. Rochester Ecology Partners will reach out to make a plan.


  1. The smaller the group the better. Splitting up family groups into 2 classes is the ideal situation.
  2. Advance notice is appreciated. We would like at least a week to plan and prepare.
  3. Teachers are active participants. When we lead an activity we need your help and will ask for you to support us.

Example Lessons We Can Lead

SEL Lessons

  1. Collaborative nature art experience – students work together as a team to create a piece of art from nature
  2. Nature games – Play games to focus on class cooperation and decision making.
  3. Sensory walks – Use your eyes, ears, nose, and hands to learn more about your surroundings. Focus on a specific sense to amplify the experience.

ELA Lessons

  1. Nature writing – protocols for observing and writing about nature get students connected
  2. I Spy vocabulary – students explore the outdoors looking for and taking note of content-specific vocabulary words related to the outdoor experience. Students use these words to write a poem about their time outside.
  3. Creating maps and writing directions – students work in teams (or individually) to create a map of their school grounds, and then write directions about how to get to a specific location on campus.

Math Lessons

  1. Counting on nature – Using materials in nature to create math expressions
  2. Collection math – Students explore and gather items from nature to sort and compare by different variables. 
  3. Area, perimeter, diameter, radius – Use nature to learn more about concepts of measurement, and use real life examples to bring size to life!

Science Lessons

  1. Environments and Survival –  Seeking examples of how plants, animals and other living things survive in urban and natural environments
  2. Needs of plants and animals – Studying the ways different living things get the things they need ot survive and thrive
  3. Patterns of earth and sky – Using observation and inquiry to understand how the movement of our earth affects the weather and climate

Who are the Rochester Ecology Partners?

Rochester Ecology Partners is a non-profit that serves people in Greater Rochester through nature-based learning and activities that cultivate community connectedness. We believe that integrated and innovative approaches to helping people find nature where they live, work, and play can improve our community’s capacity to co-create a bright and hopeful future.

Our staff:

Chris Widmaier – Executive Director

Lindsay Clark – Program Development Manager

Timmi Okung – Nature-based LEarning Educator / Neighborhood Nature Program Manager

Loretta Hauslauer – Nature-based Learning Educator

We are grateful for our supporters

Rochester Ecology Partners appreciates the support of our community. Our programs are made possible with support from businesses, individuals, and school communities. If you would like to contribute your time, talent, or treasure to our work please reach out or make a donation today.