Elementary Programs Chapter

Don't Go Wild in the Wild

Books to Share

  • Crinkleroot’s Guide to Walking in Wild Places by Jim Arnosky.
  • Follow the Trail by Jessica Loy.
  • Forest Explorer by Nic Bishop.
  • 40 Knots to Know by Emily Stetson.
  • Toasting Marshmallows by Kristine O’Connell George.
  • Water Sports: an Outdoor Adventure Handbook by Hugh McManners.

Books to Show or Booktalk

  • Boy Who Spoke Dog by Clay Morgan.
  • Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulsen.
  • Kids Guide to Staying Safe Around Water by Maribeth Boelts.
  • Survival School by Frank Asch.
  • Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements.


Q. Why did the raccoon tiptoe through the campground?
A. He didn’t want to wake the sleeping bags.

Q. How many paws does a bear have?
A. One paw and one maw.

Q. Can you describe a skunk using only two letters of the alphabet?
A. Yes. P and U.

Q. What do you call an owl with a sore throat?
A. A bird that doesn’t give a hoot.

Readers Theatre Script

Invite the children to read One Wild Nature Hike by Barrie Teague Alguire.


Poisonous Snakes

  • Paper
  • Pens, crayons, markers

After discussing poisonous plants and snakes and looking at pictures in books, let the children draw pictures to take home. An inexpensive poster of venomous Texas snakes can be purchased from the Texas Department of Wildlife Web site.

Make a Compass

Instructions for making a simple compass are available on the Mad Sci Net Web site.


Poison Plant Identification

Show several pictures of plants and help the children learn to tell the difference between harmless plants and the poisonous ones.

Assemble a Hiking Kit

  • Flashlights (one large, one small)
  • Water bottles (one large, one small)
  • Sunglasses
  • Band-aids
  • Lightweight jacket
  • Compass
  • Sunscreen
  • Candy bar
  • Comic book
  • Collection of additional items that are obviously poor choices, such as a baseball bat, soccer ball, bubble bath, etc.

Set the items you have assembled on a table, including those that are poor choices for a hiking kit. After reading Follow the Trail by Jessica Loy, invite the children look at the objects and decide which are appropriate to take on a hike and which would better to leave at home. Ask them to discuss their reasons for taking or leaving items.


  • Compass
  • Maps

Show the children how to read a compass and how to use it with a map. Go outside and have them figure out which way they are facing based on the compass heading. Talk about using the sun for direction as well.

Knot tying

  • Rope or twine, cut in 2-foot lengths

Give each child a piece of rope or twine. Teach them how to tie several basic knots using the book, 40 Knots to Know by Emily Stetson.

Guest Speakers

Invite a person experienced in camping, kayaking, rock climbing, or other outdoor pursuits. Presentations can pertain to setting up a tent, letting the children see and handle outdoor gear, identifying poisonous plants and animals, or other skills about being safe outdoors. Water safety or boating skills are also good topics.

Web Sites

Fish and Wildlife Service
This students’ page has links to many sites concerning plants, fish, wildlife and their habitats, birds, and conservation.

Texas Junior Naturalist
Children can learn about the flora, fauna, and geology of Texas. There is information about Texas snakes, bugs, plants, and mammals, plus the location of various botanical gardens throughout the state.

Professional Resources

  • Camping and Orienteering by Michael Jay.
  • Complete Wilderness Training Book by Hugh McManners.


Texas Reading Club 2005 Programming Manual / Go Wild...Read!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011