TQP Project Materials & Resources

TQP Project Materials & Resources


In 2014-15, more than 50 educators from Connecticut PK-12 schools learned incorporating science, language arts and mathematics into their lessons using environmental topics. The group was supported in this adventure through a Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Grant from the Connecticut Office of Higher Education.

Teams of teachers worked together in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to study a topic:

  • School Gardens in the Curriculum
  • Schoolyards in the Curriculum
  • School’s Resources in the Curriculum

These lessons, activities, and resources can help you and your school grow a bit greener while incorporating Next Generation Science Standards, and Common Core language arts and mathematics. Some are full lesson arcs across many grades, while others are great ideas that can be implemented at your school.

You can sort this table for grade level (LE lower elementary; UE upper elementary; MS middle school; HS high school)
Lesson descriptions note when a particular grade level has been targeted. You can certainly adapt all of these materials for any grade!


xxxxDecomposing PumpkinsStudents document and discuss what they observe, make predictions, and reflect about what they think will happen as pumpkins (or watermelons) decompose in an inside and outside location. This investigation can take up to several months. Targeted Grade: 2      Strong Connections: 3, 4, 5, MS, HS
xxxxNature TrailLearn about your local habitat while giving back to the community. In this long term activity, students develop and utilize a school nature trail.Targeted Grade: 5      Strong Connections: K, 2, 3, MS, HS
xEnergy SquadStudents take on the role of the “Energy Squad” to help their school become more energy efficient and sustainable. In this lesson students can learn about carbon emissions and the carbon footprint of their school while engaging in research, writing, discussion, activism and inquiry. Targeted Grade: 5           
xBorage GardenUsing borage and other herbs, students experiment with the idea that plants require sunlight and water to grow. Students can also investigate the various uses of borage. Targeted Grade: 2
xxxRain GardenRain gardens can help filter our water supply and improve our environment. Students will investigate the effects of water runoff on schoolyard surfaces, and understand the importance of water conservation. Targeted Grade 4     Strong Connections MS and HS
xxSunflower HouseThis unique garden feature can be an ideal outdoor space for students to sit, work, read, and observe. A Sunflower House is a group of sunflowers planted in a crescent or box shape. As the flowers grow, the ‘house’ will take shape. Students can explore the growing sunflowers through literature, observation and hands-on inquiry. Sunflower House is an ideal project for lower, mid- and upper grades to collaborate on, while meeting their own level’s standards. Targeted Grade: K       Strong Connections: 3 and 5
xTrout in the ClassroomStudents raise trout from eggs to maturity, and release trout into a local river. The project allows students to observe the changes in the trout as they grow and mature. Targeted Grade: 3            Possible K-12
xVictory GardenVictory Gardens were vegetable gardens planted to increase food production during World War II. Students will explore how people worked together in World War II to overcome food scarcity. While planting and growing their own victory gardens, students will learn about the growing habits of different vegetables through literature, observation, and hands-on inquiry. Targeted Grade: 2           Possible K-8
xEarth ClubA school Earth Club supports collaboration between students, teachers, administration, and the community with the students at the heart of planning and leading change.  This can be an afterschool or before-school club, a lunch group, or an activity during class. Targeted Grade: 5           Possible K-12
xxContainer GardensContainer gardens allow students to grow plants either in the school or outside, extending the growing season. This method also allows for quick and easy gardens at urban schools. Although this might be a “do-it-yourself” project, a variety of commercial products are also available, including watering systems, containers on wheels, themed seeds, and lesson supports. Targeted Grades: K and 3   Possible K-12
xxxBird FeedersMake bird feeders, observe species and compare different habitats. This is a great outside activity for the late fall and winter months. Targeted grade 2, Additional Connections K, 3, 5
xxScience CornerBring science and excitement into your classroom with an area that features hands-on items, literature, and other visuals that can be connected to standards across the curriculum. Targeted grade 1  PK-5
xTerrariumsMini ecosystems grown inside containers can be used to sustain life for small plants and animals. Targeted grades 3, 5.  PK-5
xOur Town Microgrid ChallengeWhat are microgrids and why would you want one? This unit leads students to understand and apply the answers to that question. The unit includes a multiple step process, with industry and policy readings, investigation of town maps and properties, consideration of emergency needs in the event that electric power is lost, and design of a system that will meet that need. Throughout the unit students hold a "public hearing" with their peers to discuss and fine-tune their ideas, and a capstone presentation to town leaders to discuss their solutions in a real-world context.
The unit is supported with readings and background information, suggested "building" and energy "generator" cards, and a suggested process to lead students to an understanding of the unit question. This lesson is listed at CT Energy Education www.ctenergyeducation.com
xxxEcological FootprintThe Ecological Footprint measures the amount of renewable and nonrenewable resources that are used by our activities. Ecologically productive land area is required to support everything that we eat or use, and also to absorb the wastes we create. Worldwide there are 4.7 biologically productive acres available per person, and this doesn’t include the needs of all of the plants and animals. A growing world population will reduce the number of acres available per person.

The lesson will support classroom units that examine energy use, efficiency, conservation and climate change.
Connecticut Energy Education suggests using the Ecological Footprint as an attention grabbing introduction to understanding the science of climate change or as a bridge into Student Solutions to the issues. There are many lesson documents and extensions. Find this lesson on www.ctenergyeducation.com
xxStudent-Created SignageStudents create signage or guides can be used to label or explain gardens, habitats, exhibits or other green features around your school. This could fit in as a team themed unit that integrates all core subjects and specials.
Targeted grades 6-8. Additional Connections K-12

Great Ideas for your Green School

LE UE MS HS Title Description
xxxxSchool Site WalkSchool grounds hold ample opportunity for learning but also require time for planning and professional development throughout the school year – starting with a site walk through to explore learning opportunities, a mid-year check-in to identify and clear hurdles to site-based learning, and finally an end-of-year reflection to model lessons and share successes. All parts of school curriculum can be integrated into the development and use of these resources. K-12
xxxBeekeeper VisitInvite a beekeeper to your class.
Targeted Grades: K-8
xxxCompostingLearn about and implement a composting plan to reduce cafeteria and garden waste. Targeted Grades: K-8
xxxOutdoor Tool StorageCreate a storage place to have your tools ready for outdoor learning. The storage will give students easy access to garden tools and outdoor supplies, and it will also facilitate both ease of instruction and student exploration. Grades: K-12
xxxxDonors ChooseDonorsChoose.org is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help fund student projects. Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on their site, and donors can give any amount to the project that most inspires them. Grades: K-12
xxx Apartment OasisSmall spaces can make a huge impact as habitat gardens. Targeting grades K-8
xxxxOutdoor ClassroomHow to create an outdoor learning space. PK-12
xxWindowsill GardenWindowsills can be used to grow a variety of plants throughout the year. PK-5
xPotatoes in a BagGrow potatoes in a shopping bag or old laundry basket. PK-K


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