Flipping Through Nature: Card Decks to Guide Outdoor Exploration

Self Guided Activities for nearly all ages!

Flipping Through Nature: Card Decks to Guide Outdoor Exploration (Flip Cards) are designed to be used by learners without the support of facilitation or interpretation by an educator. These activities invite learners to take an active role in their own outdoor explorations, support them in developing their own personal relationships with the outdoors, and encourage the development of skills that can be used across many outdoor settings. While field tested and designed for use in nature centers and other outdoor exploration settings, they are versatile—you decide if they are appropriate for you, your setting, and your learners!

A child uses a hand lens to observe nature in the Outdoor Nature Lab


Time spent closely observing and exploring something as common as leaves—and discovering how intriguing, complex, and beautiful they are—can lead learners to experience awe, which can promote happiness, physical health, generosity, humility, and critical thinking.

The following activities promote equitable, inclusive, and culturally responsive learning experiences in several ways:

  • They engage learners with commonly found parts of nature;
  • They use broad questions that don’t rely on learners having previous nature experiences in order to answer;
  • They include prompts that encourage learners to connect what they are observing with their own lived experiences;
  • They focus on skills that are accessible by people across a wide age range;
  • They prompt people to use multiple senses;
  • They encourage reflection and discussions based on observations made in direct engagement with nature,
  • They share curiosity tools and critical thinking skills that promote an inquiry mindset, supporting independent learning in any context.

Guidance Document:

Flip Cards Background Information

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