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The Sundance School - established 1977

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The Environment: 


We describe everything around us on planet Earth as THE ENVIRONMENT. 


That’s everything we see and hear, taste and touch and smell. Our environment includes air, water, soil and everything that grows on the planet. 

Plants and animals need a healthy environment to survive. We need to keep our environment healthy so: 

  • We have clean air to breathe

  •  The soil is full of nutrients and minerals to help plants grow healthy and strong

  • The water in our lakes and oceans and rivers is clean

  • The animals and people who live on Earth have everything they need to survive.

ECOSYSTEM: An ecosystem is a large network or community of living organisms like plants and animals who live and depend on each other in a particular area and the non-livings things they depend on, too. We share the Earth with so many other living creatures and we have to remember to do our best to take care of it, because we are all interconnected.

Why Are There Seasons?

Our Unique Ecosystem

Adaptation and Habitat


It’s springtime! This is a wonderful time to see nature at its best. Trees and flowers are waking up from their long winter’s nap. Take a moment to look in your backyard for the changes that have occurred. 

What is happening in your yard?  

You might see plants that are growing and blooming. 

You might see buds on some trees that are just starting to wake up after the winter and will be blooming in the next few weeks. 



What are plants?

Plants are living organisms that cover much of the land of planet Earth. Some examples of plants are grass, trees, flowers, bushes, ferns, mosses, and more. 

What makes a plant a plant?

  • Most plants can make their own food!! They do it through a process called photosynthesis. They use the energy from the sun.

  • Many plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

  • Many plants have a waxy layer on the surface of their leaves that protects them and keeps them from drying out.

  • Most plants have leaves, stems, and roots.

    • The leaves are specialized for photosynthesis.The chloroplasts inside the cells of the leaves collect energy from sunlight as well as collect carbon dioxide from the air. Leaves come in many different shapes including long skinny needles that are found on pine trees.

    • The stem supports the leaves and flowers of the plant. Stems can move food and water around the plant to help it grow. Plants often store food in their stems.

    • The roots of a plant grow underground. Roots help to keep the plant from falling over and gather water and minerals from the soil. 

Explore the parts of a plant. How can we grow a plant? What does a plant need to help it grow? Do humans have these same needs? Find a seed and germinate it between paper towels.  Take a green pepper and slice it open and then plant it in a pot. Watch it germinate!  

Read more at: https://www.ducksters.com/science/biology/plants.php

Specialized plants like the Venus Flytrap can eat insects. How they do it, is explained in this video:


Animals are living things. Like plants, animals need food and water to live. 

Unlike plants, which make their own food, animals feed themselves by eating plants or other animals. Animals can also sense what goes on around them. 

Scientists divide animals into two main groups. Animals that have a backbone are called vertebrates. 

Fish are the oldest known vertebrates. They live in water and are often covered in scales. Most fish have a bony skeleton. However, sharks and rays have a skeleton made of cartilage, a strong and flexible tissue.



Reptiles like lizards, snakes, and crocodiles have dry, scaly skin. Some reptiles, such as turtles, spend a lot of time in water, but they breathe air.



Animals that live part of their life on land and part of their life in water are called amphibians. Frogs and salamanders are examples of amphibians. Most young amphibians live in water and breathe with gills. As they grow they form lungs and legs and move onto land.




Vertebrates that have wings and feathers are called birds. Most, but not all, birds can fly. 


Watch as a robin builds his nest:

Vertebrates that feed their babies with milk from the mother are called mammals. Mammals include mice, deer, seals, whales, monkeys, and humans. Mammals live on land in all parts of the world. A few types, such as whales, live in the ocean but still must breathe air.


Animals that do not have a backbone are called invertebrates. About 95 percent of all animals are invertebrates.





Caring for the Earth


Most climate scientists agree that the Earth is warming up due to human activity. What can we do?

Ever since the earth was first inhabited, humans and other life forms have depended on things that exist freely in nature to survive. 

Natural Resources: Living things need WATER, AIR, and RESOURCES FROM THE LAND. All forms of life including animals, plants and people live in places that have the things they need. 

What does it mean when we refer to Earth's resources? They are water, oil, plants, soil, rocks and minerals, animals, forests. All the things we use for food, housing, travel, manufacturing and providing civilization with what it needs. But, many of those things are non-renewable - once we use them up, we can’t get any more.

Why are Natural Resources so important?   

People of the world use each resource in the picture for food/drink, housing, and travel.      

Resource consumption is a big way of saying that we use and use up our resources. The role of natural resources in sustaining life on earth is very important. 

So, we need to make sure to protect the environment and keep it safe and clean!




The Great Kapok Tree

Sundance Park

Recite The Earth Pledge! 




Our Earth has a magnetic field. Earth's magnetic field extends from deep inside the Earth out into space. Earth’s inner core is a huge, solid, metal ball. A liquid form of the same metals flows around it, making up the outer core. As the two cores spin, they create magnetism.

Read more about the Earth’s magnetic field: Magnetism For Kids - Toys, Activities, Resources, & More

  • Magnetism is a physical force produced by the motion of an electric charge. It’s an invisible force or field caused by special traits in certain materials.

  • Magnetism is a force that can attract (pull closer) or repel (push away) objects that have a magnetic material like iron in them. 

  • Every magnet has both a north and south pole. When you place the north pole near the south pole of another magnet, they will be attracted to one another. When you place like poles together, they repel each other.

  • When experimenting with magnets, you may find that some magnets attract or repel the other magnets, depending on the polarity.





  1. How can we reduce the amount we throw away? How can we reuse things that we might have thrown away?

  2. Which is your favorite animal and why? Break it up by habitat. What’s your favorite animal that lives in the deserts, forests.grasslands, islands, mountains, oceans, wetlands?

  3. What kinds of plants or trees would you like to plant? Where would you plant them?

  4. If you could have a food garden, which plants would you choose to plant? Broccoli, zucchini, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes? Something else. Is there a place in your yard that you could start growing your garden? 


  1. Make a map of your backyard. Add the colors of the plants that are blooming to your map. 

  2. Explore the area outside your house. If you see a plant you don’t recognize, ask a parent to help you search for the kind of plant it is. One way your parents can help you find out is to take a picture of your plant, and do a Google image search.

  3. Older kids can explore habitats and animal adaptations. Why does a zebra have stripes?  Why do koalas live high in the trees? 

  4. Explore the parts of a plant. How can we grow a plant? What does a plant need to help it grow? Do humans have these same needs? Find a seed and germinate it between paper towels.  Take a green pepper and slice it open and then plant it in a pot. Watch it germinate!  

  5. Create an imaginary creature and include the proper adaptations for its imaginary habitat. What would it look like? Hairy? Slimy? What would it eat? How would it live? Make the creature using supplies around the house—cardboard, fabric, playdough? Create the habitat with sticks, rocks, Legos or blocks. Create a map of the land that this creature lives in.  Does this creature have predators? Friends or allies?

  6. EXPLORE: Adults and kids alike are fascinated by magnets and exploring your home with a magnet in hand can be fun and exciting. (Be careful not to put a magnet near an electronic device) Finding a magnet in your home may be tricky. Look for magnets on your refrigerator or one that may be part of a toy. Now, find objects that “stick” to the magnet. What do these objects have in common?  



  • Draw a picture of your backyard. What animals would you like to see there? 

  • Find a rock in your backyard and paint it. Write a message to the world on the rock and place it in your garden.

  • Create a zoo with your stuffed animals and decide what might be the best way to care for them

Art Sculpture:

A great project is to create a sculpture using water bottles.  Decorate the sculpture with markers or tissue paper and glue. Wrapping paper can work too.

Create a birdhouse or bird feeder for the birds.

Crayon Fun!

-take a crayon and a piece of paper and find some leaves. Place the leaves under the paper and rub the crayon over the paper. Watch the leaf come through. Take another piece of paper and place it on a tree trunk. Rub the crayon over the paper and watch the bark imprint appear.




Create a water filter.

This is a good time to discuss the importance of water to our world and how it affects humans, animals and the environment.

Create an Erosion Model


Using sand or dirt build up a small mound in your backyard.  Add some sticks and twigs that will act as trees and vegetation. Rocks work well too. Pour water on the mound. What happens to the hills? Did the trees and rocks help keep the hill in place? What would happen if we took all the trees away? How would erosion affect us or animals that live on the hill?


Oil Spill Experiment:

When we pollute our waters or our environment in general, it affects the animals, plants and trees and of course us. Not polluting in the first place is the best solution but when it does happen, we must come up with an alternative plan.

Fill a bin with clean water. Add some plastic animals to the bin. You can create a story of how happy these animals are in their clean world. Then add a crumpled-up piece of paper. What happens to the water? Are the animals happy?

Add some other trash and for a big effect add some dirt. Not too much, we still need to see the animals in the water. Now add some cooking oil.  How do we clean this up?

Offer the children some sponges, paper towels, spoons and scoops. What works?  What doesn’t work? What’s going to happen to the living things?

I  have done this experiment with just the oil and water.. Very effective and less messy. Ask your children to feel their hands. What do their hands feel like? Will soap help the oil spill?


Virtual Field Trips:

Visit a Tropical Rainforest

Visit the San Diego Zoo




Ms. Callie Sings the Sprout Song!

Audio from "The Apple Tree" on Broadway: Beautiful Beautiful World

Peter, Paul and Mary - Garden Song

Ms. Joann's Windy Workout!

Ms. Janet Sings the Sprout Song!

We Can Make a Difference

Storytime Videos:

Bugs with Ms. Cynthia

The Great Kapok Tree

Ms. Cynthia reads "Diary of a Worm"

The Lorax

Are You My Mother?

Reading Rainbow - Once There Was a Tree

Suggested APPS

https://switchzoo.com/ A really fun game where you can mix up animals and learn about habitats.

App that lets you see 3-D animals. Watch the link, and try it yourself!