This resource can help you plan, implement and take action on restoration projects throughout the school year.

The educational resource is dedicated to helping children explore their local environment throughout the seasons of the year.

Each term opens with a new approach to investigate and explore nature, and a suggested starter activity to get the ball rolling.

Starter activities are taken from DOC's 'Exploring your local environment' resource and our 'Nature Tasters' cards. Supporting activities can be found in our 'Enhancing Biodiversity' and 'Tools for environmental action' resources.

Download the resource

A portrait poster with native wildlife and information on how to help the environment
Example of the front side of the poster

Exploring your local environment through the seasons' poster (PDF, 1,672K)

Additional resources

Content on poster

Page 1

Term 1

Investigate and explore: Get outside and explore your local nature! Get to know your special places using DOC’s teaching and learning resources.

  • What are the Māori names for the plants, places and animals in your local neighbourhood?
  • What’s the inquiry question?

Starter activity: Check out ‘Near, there and far’ on page 9 or 'Museum of nature' on page 10 of the 'Exploring your local environment' resource.

Term 1 activities table
Gathering information Planning project action Working with others Reflecting, evaluating

Make your own nature journal and record your experiences outside.

  • What did you see? Hear? Smell? Sense?
  • Take photos of learning experiences and project starting points.

For specific sites, choose a photo point that all future measuring or progress photos will be taken from. This makes for easy comparisons.

Start talking and sharing ideas:

  • What experiences and knowledge do you already have?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What do you wonder about?
  • What areas in your local environment feel as though they have a strong mauri?
  • What about the areas where it feels weak?
  • Why do you think this is?

Who in your community knows about the early history of your local places?

  • Who used to live here?
  • How they live with nature?
  • Who looks after and makes decisions about your local natural places?
  • Parks, reserves and forests?
  • Streams and river corridors?
  • Estuaries and wetlands?
  • Coast and marine areas?
  • Mountains?

What did you learn?

  • How did you learn it?
  • What do you now think?
  • What are the next learning steps?
  • What do you still wonder about?

Term 2

Investigate and explore:

  • What’s different in autumn?
  • What’s the same?
  • Why?

Choose a learning focus in your local nature.

  • What do you already know?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What do you wonder about?
  • What’s the inquiry question?

Starter activity: Map your local nature or make a photostory of your green space (page 10 of 'Exploring your local environment' resource).

Term 2 activities table
Gathering information Planning project action Working with others Reflecting, evaluating

Collect data – what calls your local nature home?

  • Biodiversity mapping
  • Bird counts
  • Tracking tunnels

Collect local information and share it in a New Zealand-wide survey - support the Annual Garden Bird Survey. See DOC's ‘Experiencing birds in your green space’ resource

  • What are other schools and groups doing that we could learn from in our local nature?
  • Network with schools in other places
  • Share your ideas and learn from their experiences

What funding opportunities are available to help carry out an action project?

Analyse your data. What does it tell you?

  • How many is too many or not enough?
  • Endangered or threatened?
  • Introduced or native?

Plan for action

  • What issue/opportunity do we want to address?
  • How can we use our new knowledge and skills to take action for our nature?
  • What is the outcome we want to achieve?
  • What does success look like?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What equipment do we need?
  • Do we need permission?
  • From who?
  • Who else in your community has information or collects data you could use?
  • Who would be interested in sharing the data you collect?
  • Who can help us to take action?
  • What do you now know?
  • What don't you know?
  • What do you need to still find out?
  • What information do you need?

Take photos of action learning and progress made. Label them carefully and save them somewhere safe!

Term 3

Investigate and explore:

  • What’s different?
  • What’s the same?
  • Why?
  • What’s the inquiry question?

Starter activity: Animal observations or Observing the role of trees, then Making sense of observations (pages 7 and 8 of 'Enhancing biodiversity in your green space' resource).

Term 3 activities table
Gathering information Planning project action Working with others Reflecting, evaluating

Get ready to vote! Which bird will be crowned Bird of the Year this year?

  • Gathering tools and resources
  • Do you have everything you need to take action?

It’s time to take action!

  • Don’t forget to think about and implement good health and safety practices.
  • Students can also plan and participate in this mahi.

Invite others to join you and share the learning and the fun!

Share your planning, progress and action – go on, tell others about it!

  • Think about what they could do to help?
  • School newsletter / webpage / Facebook
  • Local paper
  • Blog
  • Local decision-makers.

Reflect and evaluate your action project success

  • What worked well? What didn’t?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • Where you successful?
  • How do you know?
  • Who helped you? Why? How?
  • What advice do you have for people doing a similar project?
  • What still needs to happen?
  • What maintenance needs to be planned and carried out?
  • Who will help to maintain your project?
  • What’s next?

Term 4

Investigate and explore:

  • What’s different?
  • What’s the same?
  • Why?
  • What’s the inquiry question?

Starter activity: Photo competition. Get outside and take the most interesting photo of nature. Write a sentence to describe it.

Term 4 activities table
Gathering information Planning project action Working with others Reflecting, evaluating

Measuring progress/success

  • What have you achieved?
  • Collect and record the data
  • How many? How much?
  • Compare the data from the beginning. What's different?

What are your recommendations for next steps?

  • Who could you share this with to hand over knowledge and opportunities for future action?
  • Who can continue this project next year? Grow it or develop it?

Don’t forget to say ‘thank you!’

People love to be recognised for their contribution… and they’ll be more likely to want to help next time if you remember to say thank you.

  • Thumbs up! In the local paper.
  • Acknowledgment in school newsletter/website/blog.
  • Thank you letters and cards. Invite them back to celebrate.

Share your skills and nature knowledge.

Teach others what you know.

Celebrate your year of learning in nature.

Who will/could/might continue this work next year?

  • Talk to them now and get them interested.
  • Handover the knowledge and ideas you have built up.

What needs to be looked after over the summer holidays?

  • Who will do that?
  • When?
  • How?

Page 2

Summer/Autumn - term 1

  • Water plants
  • Collect seed
  • Explore local places – what lives there?
  • Collect real and useful data about your place:
    • map your biodiversity – what native plants live in your place?
    • which insects and birds are interacting with your plants (eg bees pollinating flowers)?
    • track local animals in tracking tunnels – who lives in your backyard?
    • count bird calls

Autumn/Winter - term 2

  • Draw a planting plan:
    • what/where are you going to plant? 
    • how big do things grow? 
    • are some plants better suited to wet/dry/windy places than others? 
    • consider sunlight and soil conditions.
  • Tell people what you're going to do. Ask for parent helpers. Book your planting days into the school calendar and newsletters
  • Plan/prepare a new planting site
  • Propagate new plants – take cuttings, sow seed
  • Use your school compost/worm wees to feed your new plants
  • Clean and prepare tools
  • Keep exploring your local places – what's happening out there?
  • Garden Bird Survey (usually end of June)

Winter/Spring - term 3

  • Plant while the ground is wet and digging is easy. The new plants will also have plenty of water to help them settle in
  • Mulch around your plants to give them some space from weeds that may grow too close and block out the sun
  • Plan a pest animal trapping programme
  • Build traps and/or tracking tunnels
  • Build insect shelters
  • Join The Great Kereru Count! (end of September)
  • Weed around new plants

Spring/Summer- term 4

  • Weed – release the plants from surrounding weeds
  • Mulch new plantings and water if it is a very dry season
  • Animals and insects are also on the move and enjoying the warmer weather, monitor their movements
  • Trap pest animals
  • Think ahead to next year ... what kind of planting do you want plants for?
    • weaving plants
    • habitat and food for birds, invertebrates and lizards
    • plants to prevent erosion
    • medicinal plants
    • amenities planting 
  • Order plants for next year so they have time to grow to a good size.
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