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Teacher Resources - Local and Online

Classroom Teaching Materials/Resources

Bird Watching - the benefits for children & getting started with backyard birding

Citizen Science Projects - collecting and reporting data

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

  • Publications - A wide variety of curriculum guides, posters, coloring books online and in print. Items are available free of charge to teachers and administrators at ISBE/IBHE listed schools; shipping charges apply. 
  • Kids and Education - Educational materials for use in the classroom, grant opportunities, teacher workshops and more. Keep up to date with their listserve – send your email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.        
  • Kids for Conservation - Interactive online activities for teachers and kids                         
  • Resource Trunks and Field Trip Packs
    • Free Illinois-specific topics
    • 12 topics
    • May include pelts, skulls, posters, identification books, stuffed animals, etc.
    • Available for loan at a variety of locations, state-wide (use link above)
    • Designed for teachers, homeschoolers, scout and youth group leaders, nature center staff, librarians, day care staff
    • Suggested loan period – 2 weeks
    • Correlated to the Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core Standards and Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards.
    • Grade level suggestions are provided but can be modified to other grades/ages.

University of Illinois Extension Office

  • 4-H clubs, online school curriculum units by grade level, energy and the enviroment, food, gardeners corner and more!
  • Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists available for questions
  • Branch Office (DuPage County)
    • 1100 E. Warrenville Road, Suite 170
    • Naperville, IL 60563
    • Phone: 630-955-1123
    • Fax: 630-955-1180
    • Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • Hours: Monday 11am to 7pm; Tuesday - Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

Water-based Actvities

Creating an Outdoor Classroom/Garden at Your School          

(for grant/funding opportunities see Grants section below)

Community Engagement Ideas:

  1. Solicit donations from local nurseries/stores for plants/materials.
  2. Create a Facebook page for the garden (see EdenPatch info below)
  3. Schedule a planting day for parents/community to get the garden up and started.
  4. Invite parents to visit the gardens during and outside of school hours and log what they observe, animals they see, etc.
  5. During the summer months ask for volunteer groups or families to visit and help maintain the garden, offering extra credit or a pizza party or picnic (for example) as an incentive for helping out.

Why to plant native plants:

Native plants, which are perennials, can take a while to become established but are the best plants for an Outdoor Classroom or Garden. Non-native plants and invasive species will need to be weeded out from the planted areas until the native plantings become established. Once established native plants require very little maintenance.

Free Resources for designing and planning a garden

Native Plant Nurseries and Native Plant Sales

Easy outdoor garden ideas to implement


Sponsor-a-Hive - provides native bee houses, support and educational materials for underserved areas or communities

Environmental Education Association of IllinoisListing of over 40 grant opportunities (classroom materials, teacher training, field trip money, student achievement, health and wellness, gardens, and so much more).

Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip GrantGo on a field trip with your students to study the biodiversity of  Illinois.

Illinois Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant , A grant program for involving students in hands-on natural resources stewardship,

Target Field Trip GrantsGo on a field trip with help from Target.

Plant and Wildlife Identification                        


Chicago Herpetological Society, Illinois amphibian and reptile information

Field Museum Field Guides - downloadable/printable field guides for plants, animals, lichens, fossils and more (local and worldwide)

Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, plants & wildlife information

Illinois Natural History Survey

Illinois State Museum, From Illinois art to Illinois state symbols                                           

Illinois Wildflowers, includes:

vPlantsComprehensive database of plants of the Chicago region


Illinois Specific Field Guides

  • Animal Tracks of Illinois, Tamara Eder
  • Birds of Illinois Field Guide, Stan Tekiela
  • Field Manual of Illinois Mammals, Joyce E. Hofmann
  • Fish of Illinois Field Guide, David Bosanko

Peterson First Guides/Field Guides, condensed field guides

  • Peterson First Guide to ...
    • Birds of Eastern and Central North America
    • Butterflies and Moths of North America
    • Caterpillars of North AmericaClouds and Weather
    • Fishes of North America
    • Forests
    • Insects of North America
    • Mammals of North America
    • Reptiles and Amphibians of North America
    • Rocks and Minerals
    • Trees of North America
    • Urban Wildlife
    • Wildflowers of Northeastern & North Central North America

Teacher Training

Aquatic WILD, K-12 grade curriculum and activity guide that focuses on aquatic wildlife and ecology.

Earth Force, a student-led approach to environmental education that leads teachers through a 6-step process of engaging young people as active citizens using civic action and problem solving. Students select issues to change/improve within their local environment and communities using the Earth Force Process.

EL4IL, supporting enviromental Literacy for Illinois - a framework and Environmental Justice workshops

E.N.T.I.C.E. (Environmental & Nature Training Institute for Conservation Education) Workshops                    

  • Provides natural resource training for educators through hands-on, interdisciplinary workshops lead by natural resources professionals and other educators.
  • Involves participants in experience that promote effective stewardship of Illinois’ natural resources now and in the future
  • Is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education to offer Professional Development Hours for teachers
  • Conducts workshops on a variety of topics at locations statewide.
  • Supplies education with easy-to-use natural resources educational materials and activities that are correlated to Next Generation Science Standards and other Common Core Learning Standards
  • Nominal fees

Flying WILD, 6th-8th grade curriculum and activity guide that focuses on bird biology, conservation and natural history.

Growing Up WildAn early childhood (ages 3-7) education activity guide that focuses on developing a child's innate sense of wonder and connection to nature. 

Project Learning TreeSustainable Forest Initiative multi-disciplinary environmental education activity guides. Online and in person trainings offered.

Project WETK-12 grade curriculum and activity guide that focuses on water. These workshops are offered annually at the Knoch Knolls Nature Center; check the nature section of our current program guide for more details.

Project WILDK-12 curriculum and activity guide that focuses on wildlife and habitat. Illinois Facebook page       

Rethink Outside - organization dedicated to increasing access to nature for all


Other Local Environmental Organizations & Resources                                                                           

The Conservation Foundation, preserves and restores natural areas and open space; programs, field trips and resources

Chicago Nature Centers and Activities (Chicago Kids), list with links for area nature/environmental education centers, nature museums, botanic gardens, conservatories and more

Chicago Wilderness, multi-state, regional alliance of over 200 environemental and natural resource organizations that work to preserve and increase natural areas

DuPage Birding Club, promotes birding through educationg and birding experiences

DuPage Monarch Project, local organizations working together to promote monarch conservation and education

Environmental Education Association of Illinois (EEAI), a network that supports and advances quality environmental education throughout the state

Illinois Audubon Society, Illinois' oldest conservation organization

Illinois Native Plant Society, promotes the preservation and conservation of native Illinios plants and ecosystems 

Illinios Solar Energy Association, promotes solar and other renewable forms of energy

Illinios Student Environmental Coalition, student organizations that promote environmental sustainability 

Openlands, protects natural habitats and wildlife of northeastern Illinois

The Resiliency Institute, highlights permaculture education and design to grow food security, build local economy, increase biodiversity and foster community

Wild Ones Greater DuPage, promotes native plants and natural landscapes


Connect your business’s brand with a well-known and respected one like
the Naperville
Park District’s and reach a large, active and diverse audience.

To learn more about our sponsorship opportunities
contact Stacey Fontechia Sales and Sponsorship Manager at 630-848-3575 or at
Please consider making a donation of any amount to our Fee Assistance Program.
Your contribution will help Naperville residents in need enjoy the benefits of recreation programs.
© 2022 Knoch Knolls Nature Center a Naperville Park District Facility