School Resources: Young Naturalists

Young Naturalists stories with teachers guides

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine's Young Naturalists series is designed to engage elementary and middle school students with a wide variety of nonfiction topics on natural science and outdoor life. Each Young Naturalists teachers guide includes ready-made classroom activities. Current and past Young Naturalists stories and guides can be downloaded below.

 

Our Young Naturalists series

In the early 1990s, Bemidji Middle School language arts teacher Jack Judkins began giving his students Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine to read. The Young Naturalists stories especially appealed to them. So Judkins began building lessons around these educational nonfiction stories. On sabbatical, he made an appointment to meet the magazine's editorial staff. He proposed to develop Teachers Guides to Young Naturalists stories. We said yes, and "Minnesota's Rocky Roots" in the Sep.–Oct. 1995 issue became the first to have an online Teachers Guide. Judkins and MCV staff have been producing Teachers Guides ever since.

Classroom Bulk Subscription

Current and past Young Naturalists and Teachers Guides can always be downloaded and printed free of charge. However, if you prefer to have the physical magazine in your classroom, please contact Jill Anderson at 651-259-5358 or [email protected] to set up a classroom bulk subscription.

2021 Sept-Oct: Write, Sketch, Explore
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Keep a nature journal to record the wild world and your reactions to it – and do it your way.

 

2021 July-August: All Together Now!
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
American white pelicans fly, feed, and nest together.

 

2021 May-June: Hole Sweet Hole
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Minnesota animals large and small make their homes in hollowed-out spaces in trees.

 

2021 March-April: Standing Tall
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Sandhill cranes have big wings, big voices, and dazzling dance moves.

 

2021 January-February: These Dogs are Wild
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Minnesota’s wolves, coyotes, and foxes are very good dogs in their own special ways.


2020 September-October: The Soil is Alive
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
The ground beneath your feet is constantly changing and full of living creatures.

 

2020 July-August: Hurrah for Muskrats!
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
These mammals, which aren't actually rats, are made for a life in and around water.

 

2020 May-June: What Kind of Fish is That?
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Learn to identify these 14 Minnesota fish species.

 

2020 March-April: Songs of Spring
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Red-winged blackbirds are an unmistakeable sign of the season all across Minnesota.

 

2020 January-February: Wild Things in Winter
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Animals use many different strategies for staying alive and well during the snowy season.


2019 September-October: Thunder on the Plains
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
American bison have returned from the edge of extinction to roam North American grasslands.

 

2019 July-August: Peck, Pluck, Probe, Preen
Full StoryTeachers guideStudy questions
Birds use their specialized beaks or bills to do all sorts of things.

 

2019 May-June: Flesh Eaters
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Burying beetles make their meals—and temporary homes—out of dead animals.

 

2019 March-April: Super Squirrels!
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Flying squirrels have special tools and tricks for living almost entirely in the treetops—and in the air.

 

2019 January-February: What Pooped Here?
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Learn about animals from what they leave behind.


2018 November-December: Turtle Power
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists learn about these prehistoric creatures covered in armor, and their many amazing tricks for survival.

 

2018 September-October: Eight-Legged Superheroes
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists learn that Minnesota's spiders are small, but they have incredible powers.

 

2018 July-August: Clues in the Clouds
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists look up in the sky to learn what clouds can tell us.

 

2018 May-June: Wildfire Heroes
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists learn about the action-packed jobs of three wildland firefighters.

 

2018 March-April: The Glacier Did It
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists learn how moving and melting ice shaped Minnesota.

 

2018 January-February: Little Stinkers
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists dig into the lives of skunks.


2017 November-December: Rich In Beauty
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists learn about the legacy of John Latsch—a Winona businessman and early proponent of public land.

 

2017 September-October: Weird and Wonderful Plants
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists discover five Minnesota plants with wild adaptations.

 

2017 July-August: Cool Critters
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists learn the different ways animals avoid overheating in the summertime.

 

2017 May-June: Wonderful Wasps
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists take a closer look at a group of zippy, colorful, and beneficial insects.

 

2017 March-April: Search and Rescue, Detect and Solve
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists learn how conservation officers look out for everyone's safety.

 

2017 January-February: Squeaks and Whistles, Grunts and Hums
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists listen closely to hear who makes nature's wild sounds.


2016 November-December: A Romp of Otters
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists meet a family of otters and discover there is more to the otter's playful nature than meets the eye.

 

2016 September-October: Tiny Travelers
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists learn about Minnesota's terrestrial snails.

 

2016 July-August: Seven Natural Champions
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Young Naturalists meet some of nature's best swimmers, divers, jumpers, and wrestlers.

 

2016 May-June: Wild and Sometimes Woolly
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Investigate the lives of some of the state's common moths and butterflies.

 

2016 March-April: Dances With Grebes
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
This bird species has an unusual migratory route and a fancy dance routine.

 

2016 January-February: Explorers of the Underground
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Earth scientists dig into rocks and soil to discover treasures of planet Earth.


2015 November-December: The Shy Bear
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Meet a black bear that outlived all others.

 

2015 September-October: Splendid Fliers
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Learn about the fascinating journeys of migratory birds.

 

2015 July-August: How Big Is That Tree?
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Learn forest math and head outside to make calculations.

 

2015 May-June: Fawn's First Day
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Learn about the biology and life history of white-tailed deer in Minnesota.

 

2015 March-April: Color by Nature
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Learn how colors found in nature can attract, repel, conceal, warn, and dazzle.

 

2015 January-February: Nature on the Move
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Wild places and creatures will need our help to keep up with climate change.


2014 November-December: Outside Shots
Full Story Teachers guide Study questions
Learn the fundamentals of nature photography from a pro.

 

2014 September-October: Niches for Everyone
Full Story Teachers guide
Discover how different species find amazing ways to live together.

 

2014 July-August: Raptors in the Neighborhood
Full Story Teachers guide
Meet three birds of prey that can all be observed close to home.

 

2014 May-June: The Young Naturalist
Full Story Teachers guide
These youngsters were pioneers in the study of Minnesota's natural history.

 

2014 March-April: Chirp, Croak, Snore
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn about Minnesota's 14 species of frogs and toads.

 

2014 January-February: Awesome Opossums
Full Story Teachers guide
North America's only marsupial is becoming more common in Minnesota.


2013 November-December: Beetlemania!
Full Story Teachers guide
Take a closer look at beetles—a wildly diverse group of insects.

 

2013 September-October: Splash
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn where tap water comes from and what happens to it when it goes down the drain.

 

2013 July-August: Hundreds and Thousands and Millions of Fish
Full Story Teachers guide
Discover how biologists measure fish populations in lakes and rivers.

 

2013 May-June: Night Fliers
Full Story Teachers guide
Look into the lives and habits of Minnesota's seven species of bats.

 

2013 March-April: Big, Bold, and Blue
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn more about the life of the ostentatious, obstreperous blue jay.

 

2013 January-February: Ask a Rock
Full Story Teachers guide
Discover how a dozen of Minnesota's most famous rocks were formed and where they are found.


Who is Alces alces?
Full Story Teachers guide
Explore scientific names, from A to Z, for wild things living in Minnesota.

 

Ojibwe Lifeways
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn how Minnesota's earliest inhabitants gathered and hunted wild foods to survive.

 

Little Habitats on the Prairies
Full Story Teachers guide
Explore the elements that make up a prairie landscape.

 

Fish in the Zone
Full Story Teachers guide
Follow the travels of young yellow perch as they grow.

 

How Do Birds Fly?
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn how feathers, bones, and a force called lift allow birds to fly in remarkable ways.

 

Fabulous Fox Family
Full Story Teachers guide
Follow a pair of red foxes as they hunt and prepare a den for spring and a litter of kits.

 

Two Eastern Screech-Owls
Full Story Teachers guide
Follow the lives of a screech owl pair as they hunt, mate, and raise owlets.

 

Wild Ideas, Wild Inventions
Full Story Teachers guide
Discover how inspiration for inventions is often found in nature.

 

Agate Hounds
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn how agates were formed and discover clues for finding Minnesota's state gemstone.

 

Minnesota's Wild Anglers
Full Story Teachers guide
Meet seven Minnesota critters that dive after, scoop, stalk, and chase fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

 

Northern Saw-Whet Owl 10-583
Full Story Teachers guide
Follow the treatment and care of an injured owl.

 

The Greatest of Feet
Full Story Teachers guide
Discover the many fascinating adaptations of animal feet.

 

Who Was George Bonga?
Full Story Teachers guide
Read about a fascinating but little-known figure from Minnesota's fur-trade era.

 

Learn to Hunt
Full Story Teachers guide
Go afield with experienced hunters in search of wild game.

 

Why is a Bluebird Blue?
Full Story Teachers guide
Investigate the colorful world of birds.

 

Life of a Pike
Full Story Teachers guide
Follow the life of northern pike from egg to adult.

 

Let's Find Out!
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn how DNR researchers use scientific inquiry to better understand the natural world.

 

Forest Builders
Full Story Teachers guide
Get a better understanding about what life was like in a Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps camp.

 

Nature's Alphabet
Full Story Teachers guide
A photographer takes Young Naturalists outside to find natural shapes of letters from A to Z.

 

Have Fun Painting Ducks
Full Story Teachers guide
Go to art school with a famous Minnesota wildlife artist.

 

Nature's Recyclers
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn about detritivores and decomposers.

 

Let's Make a Fishing Pole
Full Story Teachers guide
Discover creative and inexpensive ways to fish.

 

Sugar From Trees
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn to make syrup from maple trees.

 

Ubiquitous Conifers
Full Story Teachers guide
Explore Minnesota's coniferous tree species and learn why every tree with needles isn't called a pine.

 

Sweat Pads, Logging Berries, and Blackjack
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn about the hard life of a cooked in a 19th century logging camp.

 

Tree Guardians
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn what it takes to become a Minnesota forester.

 

A Most Amazing River
Full Story Teachers guide
Tour the mighty Mississippi.

 

Spring-to-Life Ponds
Full Story Teachers guide
Explore the magic of seasonal spring ponds.

 

The Magic of Morphing
Full Story Teachers guide
Explore the metamorphosis of insects, amphibians, and mollusks.

 

Who's That Navigator?
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn how migratory animals find their way.

 

The World From a Stump
Full Story Teachers guide
A young man learns new things by sitting still in the woods for a day while deer hunting.

 

Counting Critters
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn how natural resource managers estimate animal populations.

 

What's in a Bird Song?
Full Story Teachers guide
Listen to learn which birds are singing and why.

 

Ants
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn more about the ubiquitous ant and four of the most common species found in Minnesota.

 

Hoot, Tremelo, Yodel, and Wail
Full Story Teachers guide
Young Naturalists explore the life of Minnesota's state bird: the common loon.

 

Nature's Calendar
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn about the cycles of plant and animal life in this introduction to phenology.

 

Wild Engineers
Full Story Teachers guide
Meet some Minnesota critters that shape their worlds to meet their needs.

 

Ready, Set, Grow
Full Story Teachers guide
Big or small, smooth or prickly, all seeds have the same work—growing a new plant.

 

Let's Outfit a Tackle Box
Full Story Teachers guide
A tackle box is fun to put together and a prize to keep for years of fine fishing.

 

Look Down in the Woods
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn more about some common plants found growing among the trees in Minnesota's forests.

 

The Hole Story
Full Story Teachers guide
Meet a variety of cavity nesting birds found in Minnesota.

 

Lichens: Two Lives in One
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn about lichens—an interesting partnership of fungus and algae.

 

George and the Voyageurs
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn what life was like for a young Voyageur in Minnesota in the early 1800s.

 

Wild Vision
Full Story Teachers guide
Discover how different critters see the world.

 

The Wonder of Water
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn how water's unique properties allow life as we know it to exist.

 

Let's Go Camping!
Full Story Teachers guide
Find tips and tricks for a successful camping trip.

 

The Parenting Game
Full Story Teachers guide
Explore how different animals raise their young.

 

Let's Go Ice Fishing!
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn some tips and tricks for a successful ice fishing trip.

 

Let's Go Snowshoeing!
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn the history of snowshoes and how to enjoy a winter hike using them.

 

Gallery of Game
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn where to find game animals by studying tracks, sign, and habitat.

 

Buggy Sounds of Summer
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn how and why crickets, katydids, and cicadas make their distinctive sounds.

 

Let's Go Canoeing
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn the basics of canoeing, including terminology, techniques, and the different types of canoes.

 

Special Delivery: Eggs
Full Story Teachers guide
Discover the fascinating world of eggs and how different birds, fish, amphibians, and insects develop inside them.

 

The Nature of Feathers
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn about the different types of bird feathers, how they get their color, and how they help birds fly.

 

Wired Life
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn how telemetry helps scientists track and study wild animals.

 

Mirrors of Minnesota
Full Story Teachers guide
State symbols help show how much fish, trees, and other natural resources mean to Minnesotans.

 

Hey, How's the Weather?
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn about Minnesota's amazing mix of weather.

 

The Slinky, Stinky Weasel Family
Full Story Teachers guide
Meet Minnesota's eight mustelid species.

 

Let's Go Birding
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn the basics of bird identification.

 

Hopping With Hares and Rabbits
Full Story Teachers guide
Meet Minnesota's rabbit and hare species.

 

Life in a Jar
Full Story Teachers guide
Explore the fascinating world of the organisms that live in ponds.

 

Color On, Color Off
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn about albinism and the role of pigments.

 

Six Slippery Salamanders
Full Story Teachers guide
Meet Minnesota's six species of salamanders.

 

Whoooo's Watching?
Full Story Teachers guide
Follow the day-to-day adventures of an owl family recorded in an artist's nature journal.

 

Tremendously Marvelous Trees
Full Story Teachers guide
Learn what trees are made of and how they grow and reproduce.

 

Damsels and Dragons
Full Story Teachers guide
Discover some of Minnesota's species of damselflies and dragonflies and learn about their fascinating life cycle.

 

Oh Deer!
Full Story Teachers guide
White-tailed deer are one of five species of deer that either live or used to live in Minnesota.

 

Fish Sense
Full Story Teachers guide
Explore how fish perceive their underwater world.

 

Rocky Roots
Full Story Teachers guide
Explore Minnesota's diverse geology.