Creating a Local Field Guide

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In this activity, learners survey living organisms near where they live or go to school, and create a local field guide. Learners discover the value of conducting long-term observations of an ecosystem as the best way to understand how all of its parts work together. Working individually or together, learners hunt for organisms under rocks, between bushes, in shaded corners, etc., to identify at least five items in four categories of living organisms, such as birds, plants, and insects and note their characteristics and behaviors. This activity can be found on pages 16-17 of the activity guide. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Field Trip


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Worksheet – Creating a Local Field Guide
  • Worksheets – Local Field Guide templates
  • Clipboard and pencils
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Magnifying lenses (optional)
  • Field guides for birds, insects, flowers and trees for reference


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • hear
  • be mobile

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All rights reserved, TERC, 2007

Funding Sources:

  • NASA, NAS5-26555
  • National Science Foundation, NSF 9730728