Virtual Learning Digest

Herring Gut Learning Center continues to find ways to engage our students in remote learning.

As we create lessons and find valuable virtual learning resources, we will be sharing these resources with our community through weekly posts. These resources will be focused on environmental science and marine science related topics; we are striving to find a mix of content that engages students through screens and also encourages spending time outside in nature.

Virtual Learning Digest 1

Screen-Based Resources

“Beneath the Waves”

“Beneath the Waves” is an interactive documentary following a group of scientists studying the marine environment of the Kimberley in Australia. This website is segmented into chapters focusing on the larger research mission; as you watch the chapters, you unlock shorter videos focusing on specific creatures, adaptations, methodologies. This resource lends itself well to reflections by students and short reports on organisms that they learn about in the documentary.

“The Deep Sea”

“The Deep Sea” is an interactive website in which students can scroll to explore the depths of our oceans. The organisms on the screen represent the deepest known depth at which they can be found, for example Great Barracuda can be found at 92 meters (301 ft)! Students can compare adaptations of organisms found at increasing depths as well as practice math conversion skills to try to understand how deep our oceans truly are.

“Virus Explorer”

“Virus Explorer” by hhmi Biointeractive is an interactive resource focusing on the diversity of viruses. Use this resource to make comparisons about different aspects of viruses such as structure and host range. Hhmi Biointeractive offers many interactive resources for different age groups.

NOAA’s Ocean Exploration and Research

NOAA’s Ocean Exploration and Research page has links to expeditions to previously unknown parts of our oceans. Search by location, year, or topic and find a dive to explore! Each dive’s page has lots of information about the data gathered on that dive as well as photos and exciting discoveries!

Nature-Based Resources

Mass Audubon’s Spring Bingo

Mass Audubon’s Spring Bingo pages are a great way to bring younger kids outside into nature and encourage observations of the changes that spring brings to your backyard.

Mass Audubon’s Marvelous Mushy Mud

Mass Audubon’s Marvelous Mushy Mud is a fun activity for those of us in mud season right now. Use this activity as a jumping off point into nature observations.

Wild Time Learning

Wild Time Learning has a variety of resources for both younger and older kids to engage with nature in focused ways. These short lessons give space for creativity from both the educator and the learner in how to proceed.

Nature’s Notebook’s Phenology Activity Book

Nature’s Notebook’s Phenology Activity Book is a series of activities for kids aged 4-12 focused on observing phenology, which is seasonal or cyclic natural phenomena, in their time outside.

Virtual Learning Digest 2

Screen-Based Resources

Your Plan Your Planet

Your Plan Your Planet is an interactive resource about sustainability made by Google. This website has four categories (stuff, water, energy, and food) that you can click through, take quizzes, and learn about sustainability of each of these resource types. For example, the water page shows you how much water your shower uses based on length of shower and shows tips on how to save water in your house.

Global Reef Record

Global Reef Record project worked with divers to record images during dives around the world. You can click through these images using their map explorer or you can watch the videos on their YouTube page linked here (Global Reef Record YouTube). These videos are really similar to what you would see while diving – as a diver, it was fascinating to have an underwater experience when we can’t actually dive right now.

The Old Naturalist

The Old Naturalist just made available various lessons focused on marine environments or species with student activity sheets linked on each page. These three lessons were very interesting and provided a lot of information:

Whales and dolphins

Coral Reefs

Marine Communities

Virtual Visit at New England Aquarium

Virtual Visit at New England Aquarium allows students to take a peek behind the scenes of the aquarium. The site also includes many at-home activities for students from coming up with new ways to capture invasive lionfish to tracking white shark movements around our oceans.

NOAA Marine Sanctuaries

NOAA Marine Sanctuaries has created a host of web-based resources for students for further enrichment of remote learning. The photos and videos of national marine sanctuaries are stunning and the 360 degree virtual dive videos are really engaging.

Voices in the Sea

Voices in the Sea is a fun game of call matching for marine mammals.

Nature-Based Resources

Sit-Spot Activity by Chewonki

Sit-Spot Activity by Chewonki is a lesson that brings kids outside to sit and make observations about nature. This guided lesson can be repeated in the same spot and expanded into this Phenology Sit Spot Project in which students visit the same spot near their house daily to draw the changes they see. The thumbnail drawings make for a really fascinating comparison of how the spot changes as spring approaches.

Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree has many activities for families that are based outdoors, mostly geared towards K-2nd grade. This lesson on bursting buds can be expanded upon with a dissection of the bud using this image as a guide.

Head to a nearby beach and do a beach scavenger hunt!

Head to a nearby beach and do a beach scavenger hunt! You can design a board for your local species. Here is an example from the Blue Ocean Society for New Hampshire beaches.


EarthEcho has a host of various educational activities for families at home, ranging from regrowing food scraps (more info here) to using iNaturalist in outdoor explorations (if safe).

Virtual Learning Digest 3

Screen-Based Resources live cams live cams feature many different ecosystems, locations, species, etc. The website also has many documentaries. These resources can be used in conjunction with other lesson plans or worksheets or as a window into the natural world.

The Calm app

The Calm app is providing free resources during this COVID19 pandemic to help address the anxiety that many of us are trying to manage. These resources are student-friendly and are a good way to develop health habits around mindfulness.

Bow Seat's Our Ocean in a Changing Climate Learning Guide

Bow Seat’s Our Ocean in a Changing Climate Learning Guide is a great resource for introducing climate change’s impacts on our oceans as well as guide students through creative thinking and the artistic process for developing their own artwork and even entering the 2020 Ocean Awareness Contest!

Nature-Based Resources

Leaf Activities created by Kerry Wixted

Check out these Leaf Activities created by Kerry Wixted from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources ​for all ages, preK – 12th grade. The document features many activities using leaves that are very informative and engaging!

Learn about birding from Audubon – this guide leads parents through taking their kids birding, and it even includes a link to making your own cardboard binoculars!

While you are at it, make your own suet and see what kinds of birds come to your yard!

Use EcoMaine’s resources as a guide to doing an at-home waste audit! Now is a great time to track exactly how much waste your family produces as it will all be in one location, your home. This could be a great time to start composting as well!

Virtual Learning Digest 4

Screen-Based Resources

The Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

The Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration has some amazing ocean-related education resources. Take a deep dive into shipwrecks or get swallowed by the world of corals! Each topic has a variety of resources, from videos and diagrams to essays and career information. These resources are geared towards middle and high school students.

National Geographic’s Resource Library for Learning at Home

National Geographic’s Resource Library for Learning at Home (link here is for middle and high school students) is full of interesting and engaging lessons for students on a wide variety of topics. For example, the Interrupted Migrations lesson centers on human impacts on animal migration and has students mapping human and animal movements and finally creating a board game to simulate animal migrations in hopes of encouraging conservation efforts.

Nature-Based Resources

Project Learning Tree

Check out this Project Learning Tree lesson about birds called Sounds Around geared towards Pre-K through middle school aged students. This is a great time in Maine to listen for birds as spring nears! The lesson also contains some screen-based resources related to bird sounds.

Arbor Day Foundation’s What Tree Is That? guide

Take a walk around your yard and use the Arbor Day Foundation’s What Tree Is That? guide to identify the trees in your area. Take some time to learn about what organisms these trees support and learn about your backyard ecosystem!

Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree has compiled a list of 12 Nature Walk Activities for Earth Day. Take a seed collecting walk or learn how to measure trees!

Signs of the Seasons Project

Become a citizen scientist with the Signs of the Seasons project if you can access beaches along the coast that have rockweed!

Virtual Learning Digest 5

Screen-Based Resources

Everblue’s At Home Education

Everblue’s At Home Education page is filled with engaging, at-home lessons based on scientific publications on marine science. These lessons are made for K-8 students and can be adapted for both remote learning and classrooms! The reef community Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story was particularly fun!

Bird Song Hero: The Song Learning Game for Everyone

Bird Song Hero: The Song Learning Game for Everyone is an interactive way to learn more about the birds that you might be hearing in your backyard! This increasingly challenging game teaches you how to recognize bird songs – take your newly learned skills for a spin outside!

New England Aquarium’s Counting Fish in the Sea lesson

New England Aquarium’s Counting Fish in the Sea lesson teaches kids how scientists do surveys of fish in the ocean. This lesson involves math as well!

New England Aquarium’s Seahorse Camouflage lesson

New England Aquarium’s Seahorse Camouflage lesson incorporates art in a lesson about fish coloration and adaptations!

Nature-Based Resources

Maine Audubon's Spotting Connections Activity

Maine Audubon’s Spotting Connections Activity is a great guideline for exploring your backyard (or your house if it is raining) with kids in a scientific way! Make connections between the items you find – compare and contrast different types of pine cones or types of birds found in a field guide.

Families in Nature's Making Sound Maps

Families in Nature’s Making Sound Maps is a wonderful article about engaging different senses while exploring outside. Pair this activity with the Bird Song Hero game and try to identify the different birds that you heard while making your sound maps.

Make A Rain Gauge from Science Buddies

Make A Rain Gauge from Science Buddies is a great way to repurpose our recyclables that so many of us are not able to recycle right now as well as make the most out of the next rainstorm, in terms of learning! Make this simple rain gauge and compare rainfall over different storms – learn about intensity of rainfall and time of storms by utilizing local meteorological data in conjunction with your rain gauge.

Virtual Learning Digest 6

This week, we are featuring lessons that we have developed at Herring Gut for remote learning use. As our focus is experiential learning, our lessons encourage students to venture away from screens and explore their outdoor environment.

Screen-Based Resources

National Geographic Online Webquest

The National Geographic Online Webquest is an open ended assignment created for high school students, but could be geared towards students of all ages. This assignment encourages students to explore an interest related to nature and learn something new!