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Pre-visit activities:

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What is a Wetland?

Wetlands are land that is wet!

They can be wet for part of the year or for the entire year. There are names for different kinds of wetlands, like salt marsh, bog, fen, and swamp. One thing wetlands all have in common is that they are an important habitat for lots of wildlife.

Draw lines to match the pictures to the reasons why wetlands are so important.

 Answers are included below. Try to think of the possible connections before peeking at the answers!

 Click here to open and print this activity!

 Click here to open and print this activity!

Those are just some of the reasons why we love wetlands!

Wetlands are also important habitat for many endangered species, such as the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse which only lives in the salt marsh habitat in California. Wetlands also help fight climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air and storing carbon in the plants and soil. 

When we protect and restore wetlands, we help the whole planet! 

Wondering what's the difference between a marsh, bog, fen, swamp, and salt marsh?

A marsh is a wetland with soft-stemmed plants.

A bog is a wetland that is acidic.

A fen is a wetland that is alkaline (basic).

A swamp is a wetland with woody plants or trees.

A salt marsh is a wetland that floods at high tide and drains at low tide, with saltwater or a mixture of saltwater and freshwater.

Click here to view the answers. Try to think of the possible connections before peeking at the answers!

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Wetland Wildlife Coloring Pages!

We have coloring pages for different animals that live in wetlands!

Pick the ones you will have fun coloring in, and click on them to download and print them.

Nature Picture Frames!  

Go outside and collect a handful of sticks the size of a piece of a paper. You can also look for dried leaves or flowers. A special helper might join you!

Use yarn to wrap the sticks and leaves together to make a rectangle.

Now you can display your coloring pages and other works of art in a Nature Picture Frame!

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Frog Life Cycle

Craft Activity

Many amphibians depend on the freshwater wetland habitat for survival.

Amphibians are animals with backbones that start their lives in water, but soon grow up to live on land.

When amphibians are born, most go through a big transformation from egg to adult.

Baby frogs, called tadpoles, start their lives breathing through their gills. As they get older, they will breathe air through their lungs and skin. They start with a tail but soon grow legs instead! Amazing!

When an animal's body completely changes shape as it grows from baby to adult it's called metamorphosis

Can you think of any other animals that go through metamorphosis?

Frog Life Cycle Craft Activity:

  • Color the pictures of the different stages frogs go through, then carefully cut them out.

  • Glue the pictures on the lily pad in the order of their life cycle, from egg to adult.

  • Display your beautiful frog life cycle in your home for others to admire and learn from!

Click here to open and print the Frog Life Cycle activity!

Click here to open and print the Frog Life Cycle activity!

🐸 Jump like a frog! 🐸 

Many frogs have strong back legs that allow them to jump long distances.

Take a deep breath in and squat like a frog. Breathe out as you jump up with your arms above your head, and land on your toes again in a squat pose. Repeat 10 times!

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Neighborhood Food Web

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A habitat is where an animal lives in nature. From the ocean coast to the desert, there are many different types of habitats in California! Animals live in habitats that have food, water, shelter, and enough space for them. Plants and animals living in a habitat are connected to each other in a food web.

In this example food web, animals are connected to what they eat, and what eats them in their salt marsh habitat: 

Have you seen any wildlife in your neighborhood? Many wild animals make their home in the urban habitat, which means they live where people live!

Draw your home in the circle below to create your own Neighborhood Food Web!

Then draw lines to connect each animal to all of the different types of food it eats.

Can you find any animals below that eat mostly plants?
Which animals eat mostly other animals?
Which animals eat both plants and other animals?

Click here to open and print this activity!

Answers are included below. Try to think of the possible food web connections before peeking at the answers!

Bird Break!

Have you ever seen a bird wiggle its whole body and fluff up its feathers to get warm? 

Let's take a break to be like a bird! 

Go outside, and wiggle your whole body! 

Wiggle your fingers, wiggle your toes, wiggle your arms, wiggle your legs, wiggle your torso, and fluff up your feathers!

Click here to view the answers. Try to think of the possible food web connections before peeking at the answers!

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Where Have All the Wetlands Gone?

One special type of wetland habitat is the salt marsh. You can find salt marshes along the shoreline of the San Francisco Bay. At high tide, salt marshes are covered in water and you can see many birds swimming and foraging in the water. 

At low tide, salt marshes are muddy and you can see many animals finding their food in the mud. 

Over the last 100 years, most of the salt marshes around the bay were drained, filled in, and built over to make space for more farms, roads, and buildings. Runoff from farms and cities carried chemicals and sewage downstream into the bay, which polluted the salt marsh.

Now, only about 10% of the salt marshes in the bay are left. As climate change causes sea level rise, the few remaining salt marshes may disappear under water. When wetlands disappear, the animals that depend on that habitat for survival also disappear.

We can work together to help the salt marsh! Governments have passed laws to protect the environment, volunteers have cleaned up and restored wetland habitats, and kids have learned about their local ecosystems to find out ways they can help. 

Read the following problems and think of a solution to help each one.


Wind can blow trash into streets, and water can carry trash downstream where it ends up in the salt marsh. Wildlife can accidentally eat trash that looks like food, and they can get tangled up in it too.

I can make sure trash doesn’t harm wildlife by...


Fertilizers and pesticides are chemicals used in gardens and farms. When it rains, these chemicals wash down storm drains and rivers, and they end up in the salt marsh and harm the plants and animals that live there. Organic gardens and farms do not use these toxic chemicals.

I can make sure toxic chemicals do not pollute the salt marsh by…


When people step off trail they squish plants, compact the soil, and make it harder for new plants to grow. They might also accidentally step on small animals’ homes.

I can protect the plants and animals in the wetland habitat by...


Dogs that are off leash might chase wildlife and scare them away from their food source, their nest, or their babies. When people leave their dog’s doo-doo bags on the ground, it pollutes the habitat.

I can keep wildlife safe by...


When we learn about wildlife and the environment, we find more solutions to have a positive impact. Every time we make choices that have a positive impact on the earth, other people see our actions and may decide to follow our lead.

I can be a leader and set an example for others to follow by...

Draw Your Self Portrait in Nature!

Being an Eco-Hero starts with learning more about something you care about. Your interest in learning about wildlife and how to protect what you care for means you are an Eco-Hero! Draw a picture of yourself doing something you love to do in nature!

That's the end of our pre-visit activities!

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Post-visit activities:

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Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse

Drawing Activity

One special type of wetland habitat is the salt marsh. The salt marsh is an important habitat for endangered animals.

Endangered means there are not many of them left in the wild, and those animals are in danger of becoming extinct.

The salt marsh harvest mouse is one of the endangered animals found only in the salt marsh. This little mouse likes to eat the pickleweed plant that grows there.

Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse Drawing Activity:

  • Draw a picture of the salt marsh harvest mouse sitting on the pickleweed plant.

  • Then draw other animals and plants that live in the salt marsh around it.

  • Cut out your drawing along the dashed lines, and then give your drawing to someone else to share what you learned about wetlands!

Click here to open and print this activity!

Click here to open and print this activity!

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Vocabulary Puzzles

Click here to view the answers. Try to solve the puzzles on your own before peeking at the answers!

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You are invited to participate in the

Cleanup Challenge!

Every year on the International Coastal Cleanup Day in September, people all over the world team up to clean up trash from beaches. In 2018, more than ONE MILLION people volunteered and collected over 23 million pounds of trash across 22,300 miles of beaches, coastlines and waterways in 122 countries in a single day! That's 97,457,000 individual pieces of trash!

Every single person who helped to clean up the beaches made a positive impact on the environment and helped wildlife. The hard work of all the volunteers added up to make an even bigger positive impact, showing that every little bit of help counts! 

We don't have to wait for the next International Coastal Cleanup Day to get started cleaning up our environment. Every piece of trash we pick up in nature and throw away is one less piece of trash that could harm a wild animal. 

We can have a positive impact to help wildlife survive and thrive in their habitats, everyday. 

We can start today!

Here's what you will need:

✅  An adult,

✅  A pair of gloves,

✅  A bag to put trash in.

  • Begin your Cleanup on your next adventure outdoors, whether it is around your neighborhood, in a park, in your yard, or somewhere in nature. Put on a pair of gloves, get a trash bag ready, and with an adult begin your search for litter. Look for tiny trash, plastic trash, paper trash, and collect it in your trash bag. 

Caution: Be safe and do not pick up any trash that looks SHARP, RUSTY, HEAVY, OR ICKY GOOEY DISGUSTING. Do not pick up a bag of doggie doo doo either! Tell an adult where you see any of these off-limits trash items.

  • Keep track of how many individual pieces of trash you pick up. Challenge yourself and your adult to pick up 10 pieces of trash. If that was hard to do, you might be in an environment that is pretty clean! If it was super easy to find 10, then increase your goal to 20.

  • Take a picture of the trash you collected! Share a photo of your total haul or any particularly interesting trash with your class. (Did it wash up on the beach after floating in the ocean for 60 years? Is it obviously from a UFO?)

  • At the end of your Cleanup adventure, throw away your collected trash in the proper bin. If you were wearing disposable gloves, throw those out too. If you were wearing reusable gloves like garden gloves, put them in the laundry basket to be washed. Finally, wash your hands, and feel proud for having made a positive impact on your environment!

  • How might your positive impact grow and multiply if you did the Cleanup Challenge a second time this week? What if you did it every time you go out into nature? What if you asked friends or family to try the challenge?

Click here for ideas from Kids National Geographic on how to organize a Cleanup Day in your neighborhood!

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Practice Your Observation Skills

With this Birding Activity!

Photo by Kaija Ollikainen

When we go outside and practice noticing what's around us, we start to be more aware of all the incredible things happening in nature. 

Birding is a way to piece together a story of what kinds of animals live nearby, and what their daily lives are like. 

Identifying birds and recognizing their songs adds another layer to our understanding of and connection with a place.

Practice your observation and nature awareness skills by trying these tips and tricks to birding! 

You can see, hear, or find evidence of birds almost anywhere you go outside, whether you're in a backyard, or a park, or on a neighborhood walk, or just looking out a window!

Try these awareness activities each time you go outside
, and you will start to recognize the sights and sounds of birds in your neighborhood. Then you can try to identify them and learn more about them. 

  • What do you hear? Sometimes birds are easier to hear than to see, so let's practice noticing their sounds. Go outside, close your eyes, and listen for bird songs. With your eyes still closed, point to where you hear a bird singing, calling, rustling in leaves, squawking, chirping, etc. (birds make lots of sounds!). Then open your eyes and look for what made that sound!

  • What did they leave behind? Look for evidence of birds, such as droppings (which look kind of like white paint splatter), feathers, nests, cracked seeds, or tracks.

  • What was it doing? When you see a bird, pay attention to its behavior. Was it sitting still? Was it walking, hopping, or flying? Was it foraging for food? What was it eating? If it flies away, take a moment to record your notes by writing or drawing in your nature journal, or tell someone with you what you observed.

  • What did it look like? When you see a bird, pay attention to what it looked like. Was it big in size, or small? What colors was it? Did it have any patterns like dots or stripes? Was its beak long and pointy or short and triangular? If it flies away, take a moment to record your notes by writing or drawing in your nature journal, or tell someone with you what you observed.

Birders love to challenge themselves to find as many different birds as they can!

Now that you've warmed up your senses, you can also try using these helpful tools to identify birds!

Here is what you will need for this activity:

✅  Your nature journal and something to write with,

✅  Binoculars,

✅  Bird Identification Guide,

✅  A partner.

Here are some tips and tricks for identifying birds:

  • Practice using binoculars. Wear binoculars around your neck and practice holding them and focusing them. Focus on a close street sign so that you can read it clearly, then focus on a far away street sign. To focus on an object, stare at the object while slowly lifting the binoculars to your eyes, so that your head stays still. Then turn the focusing knob until the object isn't blurry. 

  • Pay attention to the details. Use your binoculars to get a detailed look at the colors and patterns on the birds' feathers, the size of their body, the shape of their beak, and the length of their tail. 

  • Describe your observations. While you're looking through binoculars, tell your partner what you notice about the bird. This helps you remember your observations and also gives your partner a chance to look through the bird guide to find a bird that matches. 

  • Look for common birds. There are about 10,000 different species of birds! Let's start with getting to know just the ones that live in your neighborhood. Use a local bird identification guide to find out what birds live nearby.

  • Take notes. Use your nature journal to make a list of birds in the field guide that match the bird you see. Then you can look up information on those birds when you get home to narrow down the options. For example, if you saw a black bird through your binoculars and it looks like it could either be an American Crow, Common Raven, or Brewer's Blackbird, write that in your notes and then look up the differences between them.

Click here to check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's tips on recognizing birds based on their songs and calls! 

They also have a great app for identifying birds, which you can try using here!

Have fun and let us know what birds you find!  

Did you know...?

Each year at least a billion birds migrate along the Pacific Flyway between the arctic and the tropics. Migratory birds travel some or all of this 4,000 mile-long route to follow food sources, return to breeding grounds, and escape cold winters. 

There are many key rest stops that migratory birds stop in, sometimes in the millions, to eat and regain strength before continuing on their long journey. The San Francisco Bay happens to be one of those important rest stops!

You can find many resident and migratory birds in the wetlands, beaches, and open space around the San Francisco Bay. Keep an eye out for the California Brown Pelican, which was once an endangered species!

In the 1970's, the California Brown Pelican almost became extinct. A pesticide called DDT was used on farms to kill insects, but as it washed down storm drains and rivers it was carried into the ocean and contaminated fish. When pelicans and other animals ate those fish, the pesticide built up in their bodies. 

DDT changed birds' calcium metabolism and made their eggshells too thin, so the eggs would crack open when the parent incubated them. As a result, California Brown Pelicans, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and Osprey populations crashed.

When people realized this was happening, they fought to protect wildlife by banning the use of DDT. In 1972, DDT was banned in the United States, and eventually the California Brown Pelican population increased. In 2009, California Brown Pelicans were removed from the endangered species list! Hooray!

Enjoy this fishy snack time with
Baja, our Wildlife Ambassador Brown Pelican, and
Marshall, our 
Wildlife Ambassador American White Pelican!

Video clip is about 4 minutes long.

That's the end of our post-visit activities!

We hope you had fun!

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You can open and print the Ways to be a Wildlife Hero idea bubbles that appear throughout this page by clicking below!

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