Elementary Curriculum: Investigating Vernal Pools

All lessons linked below are in PDF format. You need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print the files. Low Res files are for on-screen review – use the High Res files for printing. Instructions for downloading the entire Teacher’s Manual are at the bottom of the page.

Teacher’s Manual – Version 3


Cover, Title Page & Table of Contents

Lesson One: The Watershed Connection

What is a Watershed?
Sacramento River Watershed Map
Your Place in the Watershed Worksheet
Watershed Crossword & Wordfinder Worksheet

Lesson Two: Introduction to Vernal Pools

What are Vernal Pools?
The Vernal Pool Grassland
Vernal Pools and Human History
Vernal Pool Landscape Worksheet
Introduction to Vernal Pools Worksheet

Lesson Three: Vernal Pool Phases and Introduction to Critters

The Wet Phase: Winter in the Vernal Pools
The Flower Phase: Spring in the Vernal Pools
The Dry Phase: Summer and Fall
The Three Phases of a Vernal Pool
Vernal Pool Cross-Section Worksheet
Vernal Pool Phases Worksheet

Lesson Four: Looking Like a Scientist

Directions to Grow Your Own Fairy Shrimp
The Classroom Laboratory
Student Data Sheet
Class Data Sheet
Lab Report
Critter Pie Worksheet
See also Appendix E)

Lesson Five: Tools for the Pools

Metric Rulers
It’s a Matter of Size
Metric Measurements Worksheet
Scale Up and Scale Down Worksheet
How Big is That Tattoo? Worksheet

Lesson Six: Create Your Own Critter Field Guide

Critter Group Assignments
Critter Guide Table of Contents
Fairy Shrimp Critter Card
Critter Guide Worksheet

Lesson Seven: Critter Commercials

Oral Language Rubric
Critter Commercial Worksheet
Critter Commercial Notes

Lesson Eight: What’s For Dinner? – The Food Web

Sharing Energy in the Food Web

Lesson Nine: Flower Facts

Why Do Plants Have Flowers?
Flower Parts & Pollination Worksheet
Flower Pie Worksheet

Lesson Ten: Create Your Own Flower Guide

Flower Guide Table of Contents
Flower Guide Worksheet

Lesson Eleven: Create an Origami Book

Lesson Twelve: Water Quality

Wastewater and Runoff
Keeping Our Water Clean
How You Can Help Keep Runoff Clean Worksheet

Lesson Thirteen: How You Can Help

How You Can Help

Appendix A

Appendix B

Academic Standards

Appendix C

Field Trip Information

Appendix D

Assessment Test & Teacher Evaluation

Appendix E

Fairy Shrimp Growing Instructions

Fairy Shrimp Observation Page Student Worksheet

Transparency Pages – Version 3

The lesson pages and worksheets from the Teacher’s Manual can be made into transparencies for use in class discussion. Using a color transparency in the classroom while distributing black-and-white versions for individual student use is an economic way to share the handouts. Worksheets can be made into black-and-white  transparencies to be completed as a class participation project.

Critter Catalog & Flower Facts – Version 3

The Critter Catalog & Flower Facts are available on the website under Vernal Pool Plants and Vernal Pool Animals. High-resolution printer-friendly PDF versions are also available for those who may wish to compile the fact sheets into a loose leaf binder. We recommend that these be laminated so that the students can take them into the field.

Critter Catalog

Flower Facts

Introductory Video: The Mysteries of Vernal Pools

The ten minute introductory video for the Life in Our Watershed: Investigating Vernal Pools is available on the website.

Additional Activities

Critter and Flower Activity Cards (2.6 MB) 4″ by 3-1/4″ cards can be used for a variety of match and recognition games. They are also great references for use during field trips, especially if you can laminate the pages.

Wet Phase  and Flower Phase  Scavenger Hunts (800 Kb)
Scavenger hunt worksheets that can be used during field trips to Mather Field. 

Flower Power Notes 
Lesson Nine extension which allows students to give commercials about the flowers and take notes about the other flowers. 

Download the Entire Program

High-resolution printer-friendly PDF files of the entire educational program are available for download. Note that these files are very large and download times may be up to an hour each depending upon your connection. To download the files using your web browser, right click (or option click) on the links below and select “save target as…”