Woodsy Owl Activity Guide

What is the Woodsy Owl Activity Guide?

Woodsy Owl Activity GuideThis guide offers teachers and after school group leaders 12 fun and engaging activities. The activities are designed to help children ages 5 to 8 become more aware of the natural environment and fundamental conservation principles. You'll find titles of children's books embedded in the activities that can help stimulate discussions. The Teacher's Guide At-A-Glance, which includes an activity correlation to the National Science Education Standards,are designed to help you incorporate the activities into your classroom curriculum. Finally, look for the reproducible Woodsy Owl and Woodsy Owl Badges at the end of the guide. Be creative - use the Woodsy Owl to help decorate a Woodsy's World activity area in your room.  The Woodsy Owl activity guide is available at www.symbols.gov

What are the goals of the Woodsy Owl Activity Guide?

Children need a solid foundation of active, hands-on, positive encounters with the natural world. Adults cannot expect very young children to instantly care about the complex issues behind such problems as acid rain and crowded landfills. All of these problems are too far removed from a child's immediate experience. As their awareness and appreciation grows, a sense of responsibility and respect for their local environment will ultimately follow. The order of the activities in the Woodsy Owl Activity Guide reflect this philosophy. They are grouped into the following three sections:

  1. Woodsy's Wonderful World!
  2. Explore the environment and develop a sense of respect and appreciation for it.
  3. Watch for Waste
    Realize that you have a responsibility and the ability to use natural resources wisely.

Join Woodsy's Team

Apply what you have learned and make a difference where you live.

How do I use the activities?

Each activity has a similar format to make your planning easier.

What You Need

Activities usually require common items such as markers, paper, tape, string.
In keeping with Woodsy's message, try to reuse or recycle the materials you use in each activity. This recycling icon will appear when it is especially appropriate to reuse and/or recycle what you use.


The time clock shows the average time it takes to complete the activity. Most activities have one or two parts that each take between 20 and 30 minutes. There is a separate clock to indicate each part and each clock is shaded to represent the time span. For activities that take several days or weeks (such as Activity 9: A Great Recipe for Garbage), the time clock will indicate how long it takes to set up and begin the activity. Use the time clock as a general guide since the time may vary depending on how you choose to adapt to your group's needs.

Getting Ready

This section reminds you of things you need to prepare for the activity. Often, it will simply involve gathering materials or cutting paper for younger children.


This section takes you carefully through each step of the activity. The section always includes a "Get Started" step designed to activate children's interest in the subject and a "Close" step designed to help children reaffirm what they've learned. In this section you may also find titles of books that relate to the activity.


These are suggestions that may make you more effective and your job easier and safer.

Activity Extensions

Look for an activity extension at the end of each activity. This section suggests ways to take the activity further by having children do fun, related projects. Often, these projects will make an activity more challenging for older children or will simply help you build on a topic.
Look for the Take it Home icon - this indicates an activity extension that youngsters can do at home with their families.

Words to Know

These are selected words that children can learn as they complete the activity.
In many activities, you'll find a picture of Woodsy giving helpful tips to teachers and interesting facts about the environment for children.

What age group will benefit most from these activities?

The Woodsy Owl Activity Guide has been developed for children ages 5 to 8. As you do the activities, you may find that some activities seem too challenging for the younger children. Likewise, some may not challenge older children enough. We have provided tips on how to modify an activity for younger children and included extension activities that can be used to challenge older children.

How do I set up my groups?

You may find that reading a book, exploring the outdoors, and making an art project are all included in a single activity. Each part of the activity may require a different way of organizing the children into groups. Reading a book could be a whole-group activity - drawing projects might be done in pairs. In most cases a specific grouping is recommended. Many after-school programs will have a wider age range in a given group. In such situations, you may find it helpful to pair an older child (who can write) with a younger child (who can help observe and draw pictures).

Will activities work in both classroom and after-school programs?

Every activity is designed to work well in a wide range of settings. Each type of setting may offer some advantage to the activity. After-school programs may offer more opportunities to spend time outside exploring nature. Classrooms may have access to a broader selection of resources. In any setting, try a quiet room or space where your groups can meet to read and discuss the activity. These activities are also designed to be used by groups in urban, suburban, small town, or rural environments. As always, the guide will be most valuable when you adapt and activity to make it best meet the needs of your group.

How do I prepare for the activities?

Many activities require just 10 to 15 minutes of preparation. For some activities you may need to gather materials in advance, plan a short walking trip, or look for suggested resources. While the activities are designed to be user-friendly, it is always a good idea to read them before you begin and to plan ahead for possible trouble spots.

Do I have to do every activity?

No. Each activity is independent of the others. However, you might want to group activities that deal with similar topics or build a sequence by selecting an activity from each of the three sections.

Suggested Activity Sequences

Activity 1: Woodsy's World Scavenger Hunt

Follow with:

Activity 4: A Single Patch of Earth

Follow with:

Activity 2: Meet the Trees

Follow with:

Activity 7: Water Watching

Follow with:

Activity 3: Water, Water, Water

Follow with:

Activity 8: Woodsy's Paper Caper

Follow with:

Activity 9: A Great Recipe for Garbage

Follow with:

Activity 5: Catch the Wind

Follow with:

How can I involve children's families?

When children get enthusiastic about the environment they're likely to carry that enthusiasm home to their families. There are a number of ways to help get the whole family involved - establishing contact, however brief, is the key. Here are a few ideas:

Send home a letter describing what activities the children will be doing. Including parts of this introductory section will help parents understand why their children are doing the activities.

If it's appropriate, schedule a few parents, grandparents, or older brothers and sisters to help with some of the walking field trips.

Find out if any family member's job involves working with nature or environmental issues. You might turn to a family member as a resource on the topics you're exploring, and even have him or her lead an activity.

Encourage your budding conservationists to take home some of the projects, especially Fly, Woodsy, Fly!

Always be open to new ideas - opportunities to involve parents may arise once you begin a particular activity. Despite your best efforts it's still hard to get busy families involved; don't worry if only some families respond.

How can Woodsy help?

Most children will gravitate to Woodsy because they like animals and cartoon characters. Use Woodsy as often as you can to motivate children and capture their interest. Nearly every page of the Activity Guide features illustrations of Woodsy engaged in environmentally friendly activities. Always share these pictures with your group. Woodsy is featured at the back of the guide in a form that you can photocopy and give children to color. Give a name like "Woodsy Hour" to the period of time each day that your groups spends doing Woodsy activities. You can talk about Woodsy as if he were present, for instance, "Woodsy is here because he loves to learn about creatures that live outdoors." Finally, encourage children to learn more about owls and their habitats. Let them know that many national forests are homes to several species of owls. You may even want to create your own "Getting to Know Woodsy" activity.

For more information about the US Forest Service and its Woodsy program, or to order the Woodsy Owl Activity Guide, contact:

National Symbols Cache
402 SE 11th Street
Grand Rapids, Minnesota 55744

Teacher's Guide At-A-Glance