Mitchell Elementary PTA

Every Child. One Voice – Golden, Colorado


Envi­ron­men­tal Learn­ing for the Future | 2017-2018

WHAT IS ELF? Envi­ron­men­tal Learn­ing for the Future is an edu­ca­tional pro­gram devel­oped to pro­mote an under­stand­ing and appre­ci­a­tion of the nat­ural world and increase envi­ron­men­tal lit­er­acy. We hope to encour­age chil­dren’s curios­ity and con­cern about the nat­ural world and to pro­vide hands-on expe­ri­ences for learn­ing. ELF encom­passes four dif­fer­ent year-long con­cepts: Cycles, Adap­ta­tions, Designs of Nature, and Earth and Sky. ELF has been piloted in class­rooms here at Mitchell with great reviews. It has also been very suc­cess­ful for the past 19 years at our neigh­bor­ing school: Kyf­fin Ele­men­tary, where they have a tremen­dous amount of par­ent and teacher sup­port. We are hop­ing to continue the suc­cess of the pro­gram at Mitchell.

See what ELF is all about.

WHO CAN HELP? Look­ing for enthu­si­as­tic par­ents, grand­par­ents, fam­ily friends, com­mu­nity vol­un­teers who would enjoy going into a class­room for hands on teach­ing. Train­ing and mate­ri­als are pro­vided. We need at least six vol­un­teers per classroom!

Designs in Nature  is our topic for the 2017-2018 school year.

Unit One: Leaves and Cones (September 18-October 12).

This unit focuses on leaves and cones. While leaves very greatly in appearance and texture, they are all designed as food producers for trees. Cones are designed with structural layers of overlapping scales to hold and protect their trees and plants. ELF will be teaching identifying characteristics, playing games, distinguishing patterns, cone creations, and outdoor exploration.

Unit Two: Spiders and Webs (October 23-November 17).   CURRENT UNIT

Spider webs are well designed to carry out their food-trapping function, as are the spiders that spin them. ELF will be teaching spider identification (w/ live specimens as well as photos and illustrations), sharing the wonders of web weaving and silk spinning, show how web-spinning spiders feel rather than see the prey caught in their webs, go on a spider scavenger hunt, and a spider craft.


Unit Three: Snowflakes and Tracks (January 16-February 15)

In freezing temps, water may take on many forms, each with its own design and special beauty. Snowflakes are particularly beautiful geometric frozen crystals that vary in shape and design.  Tracks and traces can provide insightful glimpses into the lives of animals whose actions are otherwise hidden from us. ELF will be teaching snowflake design, examine and identify tracks and traces of animals, learn how track patterns can help us identify animals that create them, and to invent a story and tell it with tracks.

Unit Four: Camouflage (February 26-March 23)

Many creatures are shaped or colored to blend into their surroundings.  These different designs of camouflage are critical to the survival of those animals. ELF will teaching the different types of camo used by animals and insects, showing how tricky it can be to see the outline of camouflaged objects, demonstrate how matching color is effective camouflage, constructing a creature that will be camouflaged for a specific habitat, and to think effectively about the impact of effective camouflage.

Unit Five: Honeybees (April 9-May 4)

Honeybees are fascinating insects whose uniquely designed physical and social structures contribute to their survival and success. ELF will be teaching the structural designs of a bee’s body and beehive cells, how honey is made, compare human life with honeybee life, bee-havior, honey tasting and more!


Questions/Comments: Denise Richter 970-373-7708

When will my child’s class participate in ELF?

HOW MUCH TIME? Volunteers need only give about 4 hours during an ELF month (bi-monthly during the school year); time approximation is given:

  • Attend a fun 1.5 hour training workshop where volunteers are given an outline to follow for their teaching session and get introduced to the exciting materials
  • Research and prepare for in-class workshop
  • Lead a dynamic, always evolving, 90 minute hands-on teaching workshop in the classroom.

You too, can help launch ELF! Be a leader in learning!

Background Information
ELF began in 1972, when the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) educators teamed up with parent volunteers in one elementary school to teach hands-on nature education. Today, ELF reaches beyond Vermont as parents and educators in other states and countries have discovered this effective, adaptable program.  While schools in states outside New England cannot sign up with VINS, and get training and materials directly (as New England schools can do for a fee), the program concepts can be used anywhere.
Check out the VINS web site for more information on how this program started and what it contains.