California State Standards

Links Between 5th Grade California State Standards And San Joaquin Outdoor School Curriculum

During the week students spend at the San Joaquin County Resident Outdoor School many of the California Standards that are taught in the regular classroom are reinforced, especially in the area of Science. These are just some examples of the types of Outdoor School experiences that are linked to the standards. There are many additional lessons and activities that take place each week.

Due to weather or scheduling, not all of the examples in this list may occur every week.


Life Sciences (Science Standards 2a, e-g)
Naturalists explain the differences between the structures that plants and animals have to support the transport of materials. Students observe many examples of these multicellular organisms on hikes in the forest and at the beach and marsh.

Sessions on photosynthesis provide information on how sugar, water and minerals are transported in a vascular plan. Race for the Sun is one of the activities used at the school to provide students with an awareness of what is needed so that plants can make food. Information on the forming of carbon dioxide (CO2) and on the respiration process of plants and animals is covered on Professor hikes by students, presentations by the naturalists, and in the Outdoor School Student Journal.

Earth Sciences (Science Standards 3a-e)
Explanations and observations of the water cycle (precipitation, condensation, evaporation) and the process water goes through, conservation, water flow from the mountains to the ocean and from the Pescadero creek to the marsh are shared during hikes in the Redwood Forest, at the beach and at the marsh. Students become aware of interdependence of each step in the water cycle in order for the process to continue. During the Water Cycle Card Hike students learn about water conservation, human use of water, and the effects of water pollution on organisms. The Water Cycle Boogie is used as a method for learning the parts of the cycle. In the Sea Lab sessions questions such as, How big is the ocean?, are discussed. In the Student Journal there are activity pages on The Water Cycle and Water Facts.

Earth Sciences (Science Standards 4a-e)
The reasons for changing weather patterns are explained by the naturalists. At Jones Gulch students have an opportunity to observe weather changes at the site weather station. Changes in weather from the coast to the forest are experienced and the influence of the ocean in the formation of fog is discussed. A barometer is used to help naturalists explain that the Earth’s atmosphere exerts pressure.

Earth Sciences (Science Standards 5a-c)
In the Sealab there is a mobile of the solar system that is helpful in explaining the orbit of planets around the sun. On night hikes the constellations are pointed out for students. In the Student Journal there is a page on Astronomy and an opportunity to "Draw Your Own Constellation."

Investigation and Experimentation (Science Standards 6 a-c and g) Throughout the week students have many opportunities to classify objects based on criteria, develop testable questions and conduct simple investigations. Comparative analysis of environments are conducted, for example coast vs. redwoods, saltwater vs. freshwater, marsh vs. redwoods, sand vs. soil. At Pebble Beach students observe the effect of natural vs. accelerated erosion.

Plate Tectonics and Earth's Structure (Science Standards 1a-g) Sealab presentations include: explanations of changes in the ocean floor, and additional major geologic events, such as earthquakes and mountain building

The trip to the Beach and the Marsh hike provide the opportunity for students to see evidence for plate tectonics.

Shaping the Earth's Surface (Science Standards 2a-d)
During Creek and Pond studies, while on hikes, and in the Sealab students are able to learn through presentation and observation that the earth is shaped by water running downhill; that water erodes and transports sediment; how sand is supplied and moved, and how habitats are changed.

Heat -Thermal Energy (Physical Science- Science Standards 3a-b)
At the beach students can witness that energy is carried by water waves. An energy game that students participate in demonstrates energy (sun or food energy) being passed from one organism to another organism.

Energy in the Earth System (Science Standards 4a, b, d)
Sealab presentations provide students with an awareness of the role thatthe sun plays in ocean currents and the water cycle. Hikes and a beach visit provide students with the opportunity to view this phenomena in nature.

Ecology (Life Science-Science Standards 5a-e)
There are many activities throughout the week which support this standard. Meet a Tree provides information on diversity (the kinds of tree and plants located in the area), and the adaptation of trees.
Food Chain Game promotes understanding of energy cycling and interdependence of all involved in the chain. At the Marsh explanations are given regarding the importance of preserving the marsh as a food site for birds, as a safe area to raise young, and as a fragile ecosystem that needs preserving. On the Pebble Beach trip erosion is observed and the difference between natural erosion and accelerated erosion is explained.

Resources (Science Standard 6a and d) During the Build a Tree activity students learn about photosynthesis, plant specialization for making food from the sun, and the concept of producers vs. consumers. The Food Chain Game demonstrates energy cycling and the interdependence of plants and creatures in nature.

Students gain an awareness of the medicinal uses of some of the native plant life.

Investigation and Experimentation (Science Standards 7b, f, g, h)
Binoculars are used for plant and animal identification. Students have experiences using simple maps and compasses. At Pebble Beach discussions include information on where rocks come from, how they are formed, and how water changes things (rock cycle). Discussions and observations regarding adaptations of Redwood Trees, Marshes, and Beaches are examples of changes in natural phenomena over time.

Information is recorded from the weather station readings and predictions are made from the data.

In addition to the link between Outdoor School and the Science Standards there is also a connection to the Content Standards in Language Arts, Mathematics and History/Social Studies.

Language Arts


      1. While on Card Hikes the students are assigned cards to read to their fellow hikers on the adaptations of animals and plants.
      2. Students are exposed to many scientific terms that often have Latin roots.


      1. Simple research reports are written in journals. The topic is developed through the use of facts, details and examples.
      2. In preparation for the Town Meeting simulation the students present and support their positions for a new "master plan."
      3. Opportunities to respond to prompts, summarize activities and/or feelings, along with writing in journals are some of the writing activities.

Listening and Speaking Comprehension

1.1, 1.2, 1.3 Throughout the week the students ask questions about topics that are new to them. They must interpret the information that is communicated to them from the naturalists. They make inferences or draw conclusions based on oral presentations from the school staff and peers.

1.4, 1.5., 1.7 Professor hike-Students are identified as an expert on a topic and then share their knowledge with others. At the Town Meeting students present their concept of their "master plan". There are opportunities at the campfire to share feelings, new knowledge and insights.

Organization and Delivery of Oral Communication

1.5 Professor hike-Students are identified as an expert on a topic and then share their knowledge with others. At the Town Meeting students present their concept of their "master plan." There are opportunities at the campfire to share feelings, new knowledge and insights.
1.6 During Skit Night the students are expected to engage their audience with appropriate verbal cues, facial expressions and gestures.


Mathematical Reasoning

1. Estimations of distances, sizes of trees, populations, etc., are used to verify calculated results.
2. Mathematical reasoning is explained through Sea lab charts, which include tides, astronomy, map making. Also, students have an opportunity to plan a garden layout.
3. Students solve environmental problems, such as comparing survival skills and making application of them in differing circumstances.

Number Sense

      1. Ratios are used in activities associated to energy.
      2. Maps and compasses are used to support calculations of concrete problems

Algebra and Functions

1. Symmetry is used to show simple relationships

Measurement and Geometry

1. Estimates are made of the height of a tree from the shadow.

Statistics, Data Analysis and Probability

2.2 Methods for identifying population numbers for trees and insects are estimated by sampling.

1. Discuss reasons for sampling errors. For instance, in estimating number of trees in an area there are soil factors and if on a hillside, the direction of the face of slope is a consideration.

History/Social Science

1. Students learn about the Native American Indians who inhabited the central coast area of California. Ina primitive skills lesson there is discussion of climatic change, migration, sources of clothing and shelter. Students are involved in a cooperative shelter building activity.