USA NPN National Phenology Network

Taking the Pulse of Our Planet

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Phenology is an excellent way to teach science, technology, and math standards such as inquiry, observation, creating relevant questions, making predictions, graphing and analyzing information, problem solving, conducting basic research, and communication of results.

Resources for 5-8 Grade Classroom Teachers

Phenology and Nature’s Notebook can also be used to teach subjects other than science. 

Phenology can be used to teach:

  • English and Language Arts such as reading comprehension, writing, speaking and listening
  • Social Studies such as American History, World History, Cultural Studies, and Geography
  • Healthy Living and Physical Education
  • Foreign and Native Languages including communication, culture, and comparative studies
  • Arts such as music, theater, and visual arts

Where do I begin?

Adding a phenological monitoring program to your classroom is easy as long as your project is well-planned.  Consider involving other like-minded teachers and staff in your project to make it a meaningful, multi-year experience. 

Depending on the subject you are teaching and time constraints, you can make your experience with Nature's Notebook as holistic as possible.  We suggest setting up a group for your school where individual students can each make and enter observations, on their own.  If time permits, plan to take students outside to make observations once a week, building the other activites and topics you are teaching around phenology monitoring.  Do that for as much of the academic year as possible so students are able to see and record changes through time.  Continuing the project for multiple years creates a local record of what has happened, and students in subsequent years can benefit from seeing what last year's class saw, making hypotheses and predictions about what they will see.  You can also compare your observations to those made in your region, or across the country, for the same species. 

Depending on the age and ability of your students, plan to monitor as many or as few of the phenophases in Nature's Notebook as is appropriate.  

Can you take a field trip to a local nature center, wildlife refuge, zoo, botanical garden, museum where they may be monitoring phenology? Check with the local educators to see if they have other curriculum ideas and resources for monitoring phenology at their locations as well.

Here is an example of a middle-school appropriate class introduction to phenology.  Middle School Introduction to Phenology. This middle school teacher has a site site up at her school and visits, weekly, a local Audubon Society property to make and record observations on sentinal species.  The students engaged in the introduction to the program before visiting the Audubon site, and prior to that, generated their own questions about phenology and phenology monitoring after reading information on the main USA-NPN website.  

Nature's Notebook and the Next Generation Science Standards

A long-term, Nature's Notebook phenology monitoring program in the classroom can help address the following Next Generation Science Standards Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI): 

More Curriculum Ideas

The table below contains lesson plans and ideas for implementing Nature’s Notebook in Grades 5-8.


View Nature's Notebook curriculum materials developed for 5th-8th grades in the table below.

Title Description
Signs of the Seasons: Monarch-Milkweed Ecology Graphing

Students learn to graph a small dataset about the timing of monarchs and milkweed appearance in Maine.  The exercise involves graphing comparisons between groups, making predictions, and thinking about variability, an important concept in statistics and data literacy. Created by Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenology Program.

Signs of the Seasons: Mapping and Graphing Your Observations

Using dandelions, since they are numerous and easy to identify, students learn basic mapping and graphing skills, and practice making sense of the phenology data they have collected. Created by Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenology Program.

Signs of the Seasons: Festival Dates

Students visit the local library or a historical collection to look through source materials (newspapers, magazines, photo collections, etc.) to find dates and/or photos of annual festivals related to phenology (apple festivals, lilac festivals, maple sugar festivals, etc.). Created by Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenology Program.

Signs of the Seasons: Phenology Snapshots

Students compare phenology of the current season with historical phenology changes by comparing dated historical photos with present-day photos of the same locations. Created by Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenlogy Program.

Signs of the Seasons: Bird Feeder Notebook

Watch a feeder as a group/class and keep records of what you see. Compare your notebook with historical records for the same species in your area, if you can find any. Created by Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenology Program.