Educator Resources

Educator Resources

We can help make learning easier and more exciting by bringing subjects like science and environmental education to life.  Explore the professional development opportunities and online resources below, and check back often for valuable new opportunities and information that'll help you make learning a "wild" endeavor in your classroom!

VIRTUAL ZOOMOBILE & STORYTIME

Let us bring the Zoo to you with a Virtual Zoomobile program! All programs include interaction with a Zoo educator and 3 live "animal interviews" with our ambassador animals and are designed to support your students' learning. Or discover our new Virtual Storytime which includes a story followed by a meet and greet with an animal ambassador. Choose from five stories!

DISCOVER OUR VIRTUAL ZOOMOBILE & STORYTIME

Online Resources, Professional Development & Upcoming Workshops
Making learning easier and more exciting for you and your students!
Growing Up Wild: Educator's Workshop | April 29, 2021

If you teach young children, this is the training for YOU!

Date: 2-part series

  • Part 1 Virtual Session - Thursday, April 29 from 7-8pm
  • Part 2 Outdoor Session - choose from two options
    • Saturday, May 1 from 9:30-11:30am
    • or Thursday, May 6 from 4-6pm

Both oudoor sessions will be held at: Audubon Society of Rhode Island, 12 Sanderson Road, Smithfield, RI 02917
Cost: $25/ person

Click HERE to register >

Expert educators from the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and Roger Williams Park Zoo will facilitate a Growing up WILD workshop that focuses on children's natural sense of wonder about nature.  This workshop gives participants an opportunity to experience a wide range of FUN activities that are developmentally appropriate for children ages 3 to 7.  Each participant will receive a copy of the Growing Up WILD guide, filled with activities and ready-made materials that help create positive impressions about nature while also building lifelong social and cognitive skills among young children. 

Books are provided free of charge courtesy of RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife's Aquatic Resource Education program. 

This workshop is approved by the Center for Early Learning Professionals for 3 professional development hours. 

Professional Development | Spotlight on Summer Field Institute

The Zoo’s knowledgeable school programs team can facilitate professional development for your school or district on a variety of topics including Next Generation Science Standards, Inquiry, Climate Change, Project WILD, Growing up Wild and Project Learning Tree.

Presented by Roger Williams Park Zoo and the Providence Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership with support from U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

Since the summer of 2014, we have been working with Providence Public Schools to provide a unique professional development experience for teachers in their district.  To date, we have worked with dozens of teachers at a variety of elementary schools.

Each summer teachers give up a week of their vacation to join us for a weeklong Field Institute.  These passionate teachers immerse themselves in field biology, conservation, and outdoor learning to later bring these experiences back to their students.  Covering a variety of topics including New England biodiversity, endangered species, citizen science, and using outdoor learning spaces, this institute was designed to help give educators the knowledge and confidence to truly inspire their science curriculums!  Hats off to these teachers for finding ways to bring authentic learning experiences to their students!

Questions? Please contact Andrea Stein, manager of school programs, at (401) 785-3510 ext. 359.

Here is what some of the teachers had to say about their experience:

“It was fantastic!  The PD I have ever experienced.  I have learned more than imagined.  What teachers can bring back to their classrooms is incredible.  I can’t imagine any colleague who would not benefit from this!  I know my science curriculum will change for the better!”

“It has been a life-changing experience that’s helped me to be even more aware about the conservation efforts taking place locally and internationally and I feel even more inspired to be a part of it.  This experience impacted me as a person and as an educator.”

“As an amateur conservationist, I resonated with all the ideas and information [about] conservation and things we all can do in small ways to help heal our planet.”

Virtual Zoo School

Discover wild at-home learning with our Virtual Zoo School series. 

Get a behind-the-scenes look at our animals and explore fun activities you can do at home.


Zoo School with Delilah, the red-rumped agout: Learn how important it is to develop trust when working with animals.

  • Today’s at-home activity: post a photo of you with your pet (or stuffed animals!) and tell us some of the things they enjoy doing with you.
  • P.S. It is important to have a grownup’s permission before you change anything about the way you work with your animal. We know our zoo friends well enough to make good decisions about their health and safety. If you’re unsure, stuffed animals are a great way to practice using your imagination!


Zoo School with Stanley, the skunk: Learn about animal enrichment and healthy eating.

  • Today’s at-home activity: post a photo of you creating fun, food enrichment for your pet (or stuffed animals!) and tell us what some of their favorite treats are.
  • P.S. It is important to have a grownup’s permission, so you don’t accidentally give your animal friend too much food. If you’re unsure, stuffed animals are a great way to practice using your imagination!


Zoo School with Ophelia, the opossum: Learn about Rhode Island's native wildlife.

  • Today’s at-home activity: get to know native wildlife in your backyard. Draw a picture or take a picture of an animal you can see from your window, then post it in the comments below.
  • P.S. Spring means the emergence of baby animals. Not sure what to do if you find a wild animal that you think is injured or orphaned? Before taking action, contact our friends at the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island (riwildliferehab.org).
  • Want to help local wildlife? You & your family can get involved in a citizen science project - a way for community members like yourselves to help collect valuable information for scientists. In the Big Backyard at the Zoo we participate in Project Feed Watch (feederwatch.org) where we help keep track of the birds that visit us. Another fun project to get involved in is iNaturalist (inaturalist.org) where you can record your observations of local wildlife.


Zoo School with ferrets Bump, Rose and Doc: Learn about observing animal behaviors.

  • Today's at home activity: create an ethogram (don't worry we explain what this is in the video) for a pet or wild animal you can observe from a safe distance. We have a template for you to print out and use: bit.ly/rwpzoo_ZooSchooethogram.


Zoo School field trip to the Vet Hospital: Meet our vet care team and get a behind-the-scenes look at the care they provide all our animals.

  • Today's at home activity: If you have any interest in a career working at the Zoo, send us your questions at info@rwpzoo.org. We would love to hear from you, and we are more than happy to respond with some advice!


Zoo School with Edwin, the red-tailed boa: Learn about overcoming fears

  • Today's at home activity: We're going to work on overcoming some of our fears. Think about something you fear that might be holding you back and draw a picture of yourself doing it. Is there a way that you can work with your family and friends to overcome it? Some good ideas are a fear of the dark, a fear of speaking on camera, or a fear of bugs.


Zoo School with BUGS: We're crawling over with some of Earth's most important friends - BUGS!

  • Today's at-home activity: Take a picture of a bug that you can find outside. Remember, you don't have to touch it and don't get too close. If you can't find a bug, draw a picture of one! Or send us a photo of you enjoying time outside in nature.

Paws for a Minute with Rhode Island PBS LearningMedia & RWPZoo

Visit the animals at Roger Williams Park Zoo from your home or classroom with Rhode Island PBS LearningMedia.

Paws for a Minute is a collection of one-minute videos featuring a range of animals housed here at the Zoo. Each video profiles a specific animal, and demonstrates a number of physical and adaptive features and behaviors. Click HERE for support materials and video collection>

Rhode Island PBS LearningMedia is an online PreK-12 content library that provides FREE access to tens of thousands of media-based resources for educators, students and parents.

At-home distance learning activities

Even though the Zoo is currently closed, we wanted to keep that learning going and find ways to keep students making connections and discoveries about the world around. Using our Zoo School video segments and Paws for a Minute PBS videos, we have created some activities to help your students continue learning at home. These activities are meant to compliment your life science lessons and to help your students to become focused observers.

We hope these activities are beneficial to your distance learning efforts and we look forward to seeing you back at Roger Williams Park Zoo soon!

Grade 2:

Grade 3:

​Grade 4:

Nature Swap

Discover Roger Williams Park Zoo's Nature Swap located within the Hasbro's "Our Big Backyard" exhibit! To participate in Nature Swap, bring in natural "found" items to collect points for swapping with items in our collection. You can trade things commonly found in nature like shells, rocks, acorns, leaves, or pine cones.

Even though the zoo is closed, the virtual Nature Swap is open! You and your family can continue to earn points by submitting photos, journal pages and more to natureswap@rwpzoo.org

Learn more and start swapping >

ADVOCATING FOR LEGISLATIVE ACTION
Every Student Succeeds Act

On December 9, 2015, Congress passed a new K-12 education law that empowers schools, promises more flexibility for states, and reduces the reliance on high-stakes testing in public schools while maintaining strong oversight of student achievement. Included in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a key provision co-authored by Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed and Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) that will strengthen environmental education programs in schools across the country.

Overwhelming support

  • The Every Student Succeeds Act passed the House on December 2, 2015 with a vote of 359-64.
  • It passed in the Senate on December 9, 2015 with a vote of 85-12.
  • The President has signaled he will sign, which by law will be within 10 days.

Highlights:

  • Environmental education is called out as eligible for funding under a $1.6B “well-rounded education” grants program
  • Environmental literacy programs are eligible for funding as part of the $1B 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.
  • The prioritization of STEM activities including “hands-on learning” and “field-based or service learning” to enhance understanding of STEM subjects may provide additional opportunities for environmental science education programs.

Next Steps:
While we are celebrating this advance, there is a great deal that will need to happen after the legislation is signed into law. Along with our environmental education partners across the country, we will work to:

  • Make recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education regarding the design of the grant programs described in Title IV of the bill
  • Develop fact sheets and messages that provide state and local education agencies and their partners important information about how ESSA funds can be used to support essential environmental education programs and implementation of environmental literacy plans
  • Identify and disseminate models for the use of U.S. Education grant funds to support effective environmental education in K-12 schools.
No Child Left Inside

Since 2007, Roger Williams Park Zoo has been a key player in winning support for the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) Act and we’ve spearheaded efforts to get other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to join the national No Child Left Inside Coalition. Introduced in the Senate by Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed and in the House by Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD), the bill seeks to authorize $500 million over five years to help states make environmental education a bigger priority in America's classrooms.

The bill would provide federal funding to train teachers to operate model environmental education programs. It would also provide funding to states that create environmental literacy plans and re-establish the Office of Environmental Education within the U.S. Department of Education to oversee critical environmental education activities. If passed, the NCLI bill could mean that more schools could take advantage of unique and valuable environmental education resources, like zoos, to provide valuable experiential learning.

Rhode Island's First Environmental Literacy Plan

The Zoo has worked with other members of the Rhode Island Environmental Education Association and the Rhode Island Department of Education to shape the future of environmental education curriculum in our state, resulting in the formation of Rhode Island's first Environmental Literacy Plan.  Rhode Island is now one of the first states in the nation to adopt such a plan, making it eligible to receive a portion of the federal funding that is included in the proposed No Child Left Inside (NCLI) bill.