Pathfinders Post-Camp Lesson Plan

(Grade 4-6)


While at Heartland Conference Retreat Center, students had the opportunity to learn how a compass works and how to follow directions using a compass. This lesson takes the concept a step further by adding maps. Students will practice drawing and reading maps and see how compasses and maps work together to help a person find their way.


  • Students will be able to label the parts of a map
  • Students will be able to find real life objects based on a map
  • Students will practice using both a compass and a map


Grade 4:

  • A map scale and cardinal and intermediate directions can be used to describe the relative location of physical and human characteristics of Ohio and the United States.

Grade 5:

  • Globes and other geographic tools can be used to gather, process and report information about people, places and environments. Cartographers decide which information to include in maps.
  • Latitude and longitude can be used to make observations about location and generalizations about climate.

Grade 6:

  • Globes and other geographic tools can be used to gather, process and report information about people, places and environments. Cartographers decide which information to include and how it is displayed.
  • Latitude and longitude can be used to identify absolute location.


  •       Paper
  •       Writing utensils
  •       Compass
  •       “Treasure” student brings in to hide (Have it be something small and inexpensive like a McDonanld’s toy or gumball machine prize. You could also pass out simple prizes so they do not have to bring things from home and it is fair. Examples could be stickers, erasers, pencils, etc.)


This lesson takes place in the classroom, in the school yard, and at home.


  •         Parts of a map                                         –                                           30 min – 1 hr
  •         Designing a treasure map                     –                                          1 hour
  •         Scavenger Hunt                                      –                                           1- 2 hours
  •         Mapping the neighborhood                 –                                           homework


Now that you have developed skills in using a compass, you need to learn how to navigate using it. A compass tells you very little if you do not have a map or other directions to go with it. We learned about how to use a compass while we are at camp so now we will talk about maps. Before we practice using maps, let us learn about some of the vocabulary.

  • CARTOGRAPHY – the making of maps
  • TITLE – the title of the map. It should be descriptive enough so that people know what they are looking at
  • COMPASS ROSE – shows which direction is north on the map
  • CARDINAL DIRECTIONS – North, South, East, and West
  • SCALE – It allows people to determine distances in real life between points on the map by measuring the distance on the map. For example, 1 inch on the map may equal 10 miles in real life.
  • LEGEND OR KEY – tells people what the symbols on the map mean
  • LATITUDE – imaginary line that circles the earth parallel to the equator. It tells how far away from the equator a person is. It describes North and south distances
  • LONGITUDE – an imaginary line the circles the earth and runs perpendicular to the equator. It describes east and west distances.

Label the parts of the map, worksheet


Tell the kids that they will now get the chance to practice drawing maps. Take the kids outside to the school yard. Give them paper and some sort of writing utensil. If you have a compass, have them use it to figure out which way is north. Separate them into groups and have each group construct a map of the school yard with proper labels for each part of the map.

To take this activity a step further, you can have students bring in some sort of white elephant type prize to hide somewhere in the school yard. The group can then create directions using a compass that leads to the “treasure” they can write the directions on the back of their map. They should have at least 4 steps before reaching the treasure. Have them mark the starting point on the map.

The groups should switch maps and try to find the other groups treasure. Have them mark on the map with a dot the location of each stop. Have them mark on the map with an “X” the location of the treasure.


As a homework assignment, the students can map their houses, neighborhoods, routes to school, etc.

Parts of a Map Worksheet

The following is a map of a made up campground around an imaginary lake called Awesome Lake. Please label each part of the map.


Use the following words to label the parts of the map:

  • West
  • South
  • Legend
  • North
  • Title
  • East
  • Compass Rose
  • Scale

Question: Latitude and Longitude were not present on this map. Why do you think this is?

Signs of Spring: Butterflies!


What images come into your mind when you think of spring? There are many things that may appear during this beautiful season – blooming flowers, budding trees, and many types of insects are a common sight. A very familiar, visual blessing is the butterfly. Butterflies are fascinating creatures that paint the landscape between spring and fall. There are about 165,000 known species that are found on every continent except Antarctica!3

Butterflies come in many various colors and types. The picture above is of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). Have you ever seen this type of butterfly before? It is one of the most well known butterflies in the eastern United States, so there is a good chance that you have!

Are butterflies born looking like butterflies? No they aren’t! Butterflies go through a process called metamorphosis. First the egg is laid, the egg hatches producing the larva (caterpillar), it goes through the pupa stage which is also known as the resting stage, finally becoming an adult (the butterfly).

During mating, the males patrol habitats that contain plants that females lay their eggs on. The male releases a perfume-like smell to attract females. You may then see two butterflies flying together, flitting around, before landing together – this is the visual act of butterfly mating. Males also gather together in damp areas and near puddles.1 They do this to collect salts and other nutrients from the soil which is then transferred to the female during mating.2

Did you know that butterflies cannot fly when they’re cold? Butterflies are cold-blooded, meaning that they cannot regulate their internal body temperature. An ideal flying day for a butterfly is between 82°F and 100°F.2 If the temperature is under 55°F, the butterfly is flightless. They even have to shiver or lay in the sun to warm up all of its muscles on colder days!

Can you imagine that your feet actually functioned as your tongue? That is exactly the case for butterflies; they taste with their feet! They have receptors on the bottom of their feet that allow them to taste or know what they are standing on.4 When they are ready to eat, they use their proboscis, which is like a straw that stays curled underneath the butterfly’s chin.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is just one type in a vast array of butterflies. This spring, go outside and count the many different butterflies you find! Figure out ways to catalogue your many different finds (ie, complete a drawing or write a poem). Nature is full of amazing beauty; what will you discover?

Written By Kim Burndam


By |2016-10-13T15:26:49+00:00April 28th, 2015|Ohio Outdoors|0 Comments

Random Acts of Kindness

Today, February 17, is Random Acts of Kindness Day in the United States of America. Random Acts of Kindness is a movement designed to impact the world in a positive way through kind actions. The idea is that if one person performs a kind act, it will spread throughout the community. For more information, stories, and even lesson plans regarding kindness, visit the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation at

If you would like to help spread kindness, here are a few very simple things you can try:gps-class

  1. Hold open the door for someone
  2. Write an encouraging note
  3. Smile: a smile can brighten up a bad day
  4. Wash the dishes or do some other chore for a family member or friend
  5. Bake cookies and share them
  6. Allow someone to go in front of you while waiting in a line
  7. Fill any need that you happen to see

Discover how you can change the world with one small act of kindness!


By |2016-10-13T15:26:50+00:00February 17th, 2015|Educator Resources, Making a Difference|0 Comments

Science, Anyone?

What do you think of when you think of a scientist? Do you picture an “Albert Einstein” type figure with crazy hair, a lab coat, and a fizzing test tube? Do scientists have to wear lab coats and have fancy degrees? The answer is a resounding “No!” Anyone can be a scientist! All that is needed is an inquisitive mind and the ability to search for an answer. Because of this children make excellent scientists. They are constantly asking “why” and looking for answers. If you are a teacher or a parent, take this as an opportunity to help your child learn about the world around them.

If you desire to do science but don’t know where to start, there are some really great citizen science projects that you can be a part of. If you like birds, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology webpage to find some projects to join:

One of their projects coming up next month (Feb 13-16, 2015) is the Great Backyard Bird Count. Check it out and see how many birds you can find in your own backyard!

If birds aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other opportunities studying a variety of topics including rocks, space, frogs, bugs, plants, and many more. Scientific American has a webpage with a nice collection of many different projects to choose:

So go out there! Find a topic you are interested in, and start doing science!

You never know what you might discover!

Otters in Ohio

Mustelids are what we call animals that are in the same family as weasels, minks, and ferrets. Perhaps one of the most lovable of this family is the river otter. River otters are a playful animal that spends much of its time in and around water habitats such as streams and lakes. These species were extirpated from Ohio in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. This means that they went locally extinct from Ohio, but were still found in some other states. In the 1980’s a project was started to reintroduce these animals back into the rivers of Ohio. It is now thought that there are around 8,000 river otters in Ohio, many of them occurring in the northeast areas of the state.

In the area of Ohio where Heartland is located, the amount of river otters is estimated to be low to rare. However, as we were walking near Alum Creek on our property, we observed what appeared to be a river otter. We are curious to find out if we have an otter that has decided to make Heartland its new home. Next time you come to visit, check out our creek area and see if you can discover any evidence of this elusive creature.

For more information on river otters check out what the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has to say:

To see river otters in person, be sure to visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium which has a nice exhibit for viewing these curious and playful animals.

By |2016-10-13T15:26:54+00:00December 10th, 2014|Ohio Outdoors|0 Comments

Thanksgiving and Turkeys

This article was originally posted in the November of 2010 issue of Heartland newsletter Nature Notes.

Did you know that the first Thanksgiving took place in 1621? A lot of people think that turkey was served at that meal, but no one knows for sure. It was not until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday. After that the turkey became a very common item on the Thanksgiving menu. Some people also think that Benjamin Franklin wanted the Wild Turkey to be our national bird instead of the Bald Eagle. The Wild Turkey was not one of the options when our Founding Fathers chose our national symbol. After the Bald Eagle was selected as our symbol, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter suggesting that the Wild Turkey would have been a better option.

The turkeys that we eat today for Thanksgiving were domesticated in Europe back in the 1500s. The Pilgrims brought some with them when they came here in 1620. The pilgrims may have brought domestic turkeys with them, but we already had a lot of Wild Turkeys in the United States. The Wild Turkey has excellent hearing and daytime vision. That makes them pretty sneaky and hard to hunt. If you’re ever in the woods and you hear that distinctive gobble, then there’s a big male Wild Turkey somewhere in the neighborhood. Happy Thanksgiving!

By |2014-11-19T12:41:55+00:00November 19th, 2014|Ohio Outdoors|0 Comments

Farewell, Flo!


If you have visited Heartland’s Nature Center in the past couple of years, you may have noticed our American Alligator, Flo. As one of our animal ambassadors, she has played a key role at fostering respect and appreciation for the amazing creatures sharing our planet. Flo was a favorite among students and they enjoyed the unique opportunity to pet such an interesting creature. While we enjoyed having Flo live in our nature center, we unfortunately have relocated her due to changing laws in Ohio. About two weeks ago, one of our staff members drove Flo 235 miles to the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary in Michigan. Flo adapted immediately to her new home and is doing well. She will continue to be used for educational purposes and represent her species and the conservation concerns of the Everglades. While we will miss having her at Heartland, we know that she will be well taken care of and a valuable addition to the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary. Farewell, Flo.

The following picture shows one of the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary staff members releasing Flo into her new habitat



By |2016-10-13T15:26:54+00:00October 3rd, 2014|Camp Highlights|1 Comment

Hummingbird Moth

Heartland Conference Retreat Center is blessed with beautiful habitats that are perfect homes for many plants and animals. From the prairie to the stream, from the woods to the wetlands, there are so many places for the native creatures to live and thrive. And thrive they do. It is amazing how many interesting things can be found here, if you take the time to look.

Check out this hummingbird moth that was spotted at our prairie.



Hummingbird Moths are a diurnal moth that moves and looks remarkably similar to a hummingbird, hence the name. It even makes a similar humming noise as it beats its wings at an estimated 30 times per second.



What amazing animals will you discover here at Heartland?


By |2016-10-13T15:26:54+00:00August 13th, 2014|Ohio Outdoors|0 Comments

Pathfinders Pre-Camp Lesson Plan

Pathfinders Pre-Camp Lesson Plan

(Grade 3-6)compassWest


From the beginning of time, people and animals have used various techniques to navigate throughout the world. To prepare for the Pathfinders class at Heartland, students will learn about some of these methods of navigation. In addition, they will create their own compasses to understand how these tools work.


  • Students will develop research skills
  • Students will understand one of the different ways animals navigate
  • Students will practice presenting information to their peers
  • Students will understand the basic concept of how compasses work


  • Computer
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Sewing needles (one per group)
  • Small magnets (one per group)
  • Corks (one per group)
  • Small cups of water (one per group)
  • Pair of Pliers (one per group)


  • Introduction & vocab       –  30 min – 1 hour
  • Migrations                        –  1-3 days
  • Create Compass             –  1 hour


Tell the students that when they go to camp at Heartland Conference Retreat Center, they will be taking a class that teaches how to use a compass. Ask: “What are compasses used for?” Wait for responses. “A compass is one tool people use to help them to figure out geographic directions. The needle on a compass will always point to the north. Compasses help us to navigate. Who has heard the word ‘navigate’ before? Who can tell me what this word means?” A simple definition of Navigate is the process of an individual finding their way from point A to point B.  “Why is it important to navigate? What happens when we do not know how to navigate?”

“Using a compass is only one way to figure out how to get places. What are other ways we navigate? What are some ways you know how to get places?”

“Does anyone know how compasses work? Did you know that the entire earth is like one big magnet? A compass points to the North because of the magnetic force of the earth. The magnetic pull from the magnetic pole in the Arctic attracts the magnet inside the compass. This causes the compass needle to point to the North. Let’s define a couple of the words I just said. First of all, raise your hand if you know what a magnet is. Does anyone think they can define the word ‘magnet’?” Let a few students respond. “What about magnetic force. What do you think this is?” A magnetic force is a force caused by the electricity in the atoms of an item (usually a metal). It tends to attract or push away other magnetic objects. “I also mentioned that the Earth has a magnetic pole. What do you think I meant by that? A magnetic pole on the Earth is caused by the planet’s natural magnetism. There are two magnet poles, north and south. These are the locations with the strongest magnetic force. This is why a compass points north.

“Now that we know how a compass works, let’s learn about the parts of a compass. I am going to pass out a worksheet with a simple picture of a compass and we will label it together.” (Pass out the “Parts of a Compass Worksheet.”) Go through each part.

  1. Base Plate: The flat parts of the compass. Always keep the base plate parallel with the ground. If it is perpendicular, it will read incorrectly
  2. Needle: The red needle always points north.  Never follow the red needle unless you want to go north.
  3. Dial: The movable circle that has the degrees of the circle listed.
  4. Orientation Arrow: The arrow on the base of the dial, usually with stripes
  5. Direction of Travel Arrow: The arrow on the base plate that points forward. This should always point in the same direction of their toes or straight out from their belly button.
  6. Degrees: A circle is divided into 360 degrees.  An angle is made of degree and shows how far away from North you are.  As you increase in degree you increase your angle. North = 0 or 360, East = 90, South = 180, and West = 270. More precision can be gained by using actual degrees instead of north, south, east and west.


Nature Navigation

“We talked a little bit about compasses and navigation. What are some reasons people may need to travel?” Some ideas may include trade, exploration, moving to a new place for new opportunities (ex. pioneers or pilgrims), early hunter gatherer societies may have followed game migrations, etc.

“Those are all really great reasons for people to travel. What about animals? Do animals ever travel? What are some reasons an animals may travel?” Find new territory, search for food, shelter, mates, etc. “What is it called when animals make seasonal journeys?” Migrations. “Why do you think that animals may migrate?” Food availability, water availability, habitat requirements for different life cycle stages, and weather conditions. Can any of you think of some examples of animals that migrate for different reasons?” Explain to the students that they will have the opportunity to learn more about animal migrations. Have the students choose an animal that migrates. Either alone or in groups, the students will research about that animal migration: why the animal migrates, where it migrates to and from, and how it navigates (how it knows where it is going). After students gather information, they can create a poster or some other creative way to present their information to the rest of the class. Examples may be:

  • North American birds – migrate due to seasonal changes that affect food availability.
  • Salmon – migrate to lay eggs in calm freshwater streams and then live in the ocean as adults
  • Arctic Tern – longest migration known of any animal. It travels about 43,000 miles every year from pole to pole so that it will experience summer in both the southern and northern hemisphere.
  • African Wildebeest – migrate because of water and food availability
  • Monarch Butterflies – for food and breeding grounds

(There are many videos online that have examples of many types of migrations. Also, there are some clips from Planet Earth that highlight migrations as well.)

People do not know the exact methods that animals use to help them to navigate. However, there are several theories.

  • Some birds use the magnetism of the earth to migrate. Similar to an internal compass!
  • Birds use landmarks such as shorelines and mountain ranges
  • Birds may navigate using the sun, moon, and stars
  • Birds may learn where to go from their parents. Sometimes, if birds are raised in captivity, people need to teach them how to migrate. Check out this David Attenborough video about whooping cranes:

For more about bird migrations, visit


Before practicing compasses at camp, we will learn how they work by making our own compass. Visit the following site for directions on how to create your own compass.

Now that you know how to create a compass and have a basic idea about how compasses work, you are ready to practice navigating at Heartland!


  • COMPASS: A tool used to determine directions. The needle of a compass points to the north.
  • NAVIGATION: The process of an individual finding their way from point A to point B.
  • MAGNETIC FORCE: A force caused by the electricity in the atoms of an item (usually a metal). It tends to attract or push away other magnetic objects.
  • MAGNETIC POLE: The two places on earth (North and South) with the strongest magnetic force.
  • BASE PLATE: The flat parts of the compass. Always keep the base plate parallel with the ground. If it is perpendicular, it will read incorrectly.
  • DIAL: The movable circle that has the degrees of the circle listed. Explain that the numbers are called degrees or bearing.
  • DEGREES: A circle is divided into 360 degrees.  Each longer line stands for 10 degrees and each smaller line stands for 2 degrees.  An angle is made of degree and shows how far away from North you are.  As you increase in degree you increase your angle. North = 0 or 360, East = 90, South = 180, and West = 270. More precision can be gained by using actual degrees instead of north, south, east and west.
  • NEEDLE: The red needle always points north.  Never follow the red needle unless you want to go north.  Follow the direction of the travel arrow, which will be discussed later. The black part of the needle is used for backtracking, which we will not do.
  • ORIENTATION ARROW: The arrow on the base of the dial, usually with stripes.
  • DIRECTION OF TRAVEL ARROW: The arrow on the base plate that points forward. This should always point in the same direction of their toes or straight out from their belly button.

 Parts of a Compass Worksheet




Archery Post-Camp Lesson Plan


(Grades 3-6)


After returning from camp with their archery experience fresh in their minds, students will relate this experience to science. They will try out a hands-on experiment shooting rubber bands.  Then they will play a computer game that teaches velocity and angle.



  • Students will be able to relate archery with aspects of physical science
  • Students will understand that the amount of force and the angle on the projectile results in where the projectile ends up.


Grade Levels:

  • Grade five: The amount of change in movement of an object is based on the mass of the object and the amount of force exerted.
  • Grade six: An object’s motion can be described by its speed and the direction in which it is moving.


  • Rubber bands (could also use play bows and arrows or nerf guns.
  • Computers with internet access
  • Lab sheet handouts
  • Sidewalk Chalk (1 piece per group)
  • Measuring tape (1 per group)
  • Pens


  • Classroom
  • Outside on the blacktop (can be modified to a hallway or gym)
  • Computer lab if classrooms do not have individual computers or tablets


  • Introduction                                            –                                              30 min
  • Rubber Band shoot Lab                      –                                              1-2 hours
  • Computer Game                                    –                                              45 min – 1 hour


“Think back to our experience in the archery class. What caused the arrow to travel all the way to the target? How come it did not stop sooner? What happened if you drew the string back all the way to your cheek? What happened if you only drew the string back halfway?

Is drawing the string back the only thing that affects how far the arrow will go?” No. It is not. “What else do you think might affect where the arrow ends up?”

Gravity: Gravity is the invisible force that keeps us connected to the ground. If you throw a ball into the air, gravity is what makes it fall back down. Gravity is constantly pulling everything down. During archery, you should be aware that your arrow is not going to fly in the direction you shot it forever. Gravity will eventually bring it down to the ground. (For another resource to teach students about gravity, there is a Magic School Bus episode that addresses this concept).

Wind: Wind may also affect where your arrow ends up. A small wind may blow the arrow a little bit off target and a big wind may blow the arrow a lot off target. Archers can get very good at determining where the wind is going and how fast. They can adjust where they aim so that the arrow goes where they want it to.

Angle: “Do you think that there is a difference if you aim straight ahead of you or straight up in the air? Which way do you think would cause the arrow to travel farther? What about if you made the angle halfway between the two?” (Take a vote with the class to see which they think would go farther).


Rubber Band Shooting Experiment

“We are going to investigate how angle affects the distance of the arrow. Because we do not have access to bows and arrows here, we will shoot rubber bands instead.” (Have students get into lab groups and pass out the lab sheets. Explain the procedure and experiment. Teach the students how to shoot rubber bands and then take them outside. If you do not know how to shoot a rubber band, you can look  )