For Grades 3-5

By Debbie Livingston

The Process
1. As a Bluff Lake Explorer, you must begin to prepare for your adventure by learning more about Bluff Lake Nature Center.

So, read the Bluff Lake Information and then view the Bluff Lake Photos.

: After you view a website link, mouse click on the Back Arrow at the top left of the page. This will return you to your place in this Webquest

2. After you have finished reading about Bluff Lake, your teacher will assign you to an Explorers Team to get ready for your trip to Bluff Lake. Your team will then work in pairs to conduct research on the wildlife and habitats at Bluff Lake.
3. Before beginning your research, each person will need to prepare a Nature Journal. To do so, go to the front of the classroom to collect your materials: 1 piece of colored cardstock and 4 white sheets. Fold all sheets in half to form a booklet (see sample) then staple edges.

*When you return to your seat, write your name in the lower right of the front cover. Also, write the title of your journal on the front cover: Bluff Lake Nature Journal.


Go to Create a Nature Journal and print form. Use this to make sure that you include the necessary information in your nature journal.

Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat to view this file. It's free, follow link to

Read the Create a Nature Journal instructions carefully and follow along as you read the tasks below.

5. Now that you know how to record your research, click on the following links for general information about each of the two habitats that you will be visiting at Bluff Lake.
Prairie Habitat
Wetland Habitat
6. Now, you are ready to begin your animal research. Your teacher will assign each pair the names of two animals that live at Bluff Lake. One will be found in a prairie habitat and the other in a wetland habitat.
7. Click on the links below to find out information about your specific prairie and wetland animals.
Prairie Animals Wetland Animals
Rabbit Beaver
Mouse Frog
Ant Mallard Duck
Grasshopper Great Blue Heron
Badger Mosquito
Coyote Water Strider
Prairie Dog Painted Turtle
Red Fox Racoon
Red-Tailed Hawk Crayfish
Bull Snake Dragonfly
Mule Deer Muskrat
Golden Eagle Bald Eagle
Western Meadowlark Tiger Salamander
Great Horned Owl Little Brown Bat
8. Using your nature journal entries and your research, prepare your oral talk about your animals. This is a one-minute summary of your animal and habitat research to be presented to your Bluff Lake Naturalist and Explorers Team during your nature tour at Bluff Lake. Be sure to look around at the Bluff Lake habitats when you arrive and include in your talk where you would expect to find your animals at Bluff Lake. Be ready to identify distinguishing features of each habitat such as dry soils or dense vegetation. Practice your oral talk in your pairs. Prepare your “stumper” facts in question form and present them during your oral talk.
9. By now you have prepared your Bluff Lake Nature Journal and you know a lot about the habitats and wildlife at Bluff Lake. But how will you know the animals are living at Bluff Lake if you cannot see them? To answer this question, please view a professional nature journal entry. You will read how a scientist uses her nature journal and her research about animals to locate visual clues of the animals in their habitats. Continue to work in pairs. Select 2 animal track links from the listing below. Each partner should view one link.
Racoon Tracks Beaver Tracks Coyote Tracks Rabbit Tracks Fox Tracks
10. Draw and label the track (footprint) of the animal on a remaining page in your journal. Read the “Natural History” of the animal. Record any information about “signs” this animal leaves behind in its habitat that will let you know that your particular animal lives at Bluff Lake, such as scat or other markings. Draw the “scat” (animal droppings) of the animal if available.
11. Share your drawings of tracks, scat, and other signs with your partner and Explorers Team, if time allows, so that your team will be ready to discover animal and habitat clues at Bluff Lake.

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