McHenry County Schools Environmental Education Program

What does MCSEEP teach in my classroom?

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The goal of our Pre-Kindergarten through 12th Grade curriculum is to gradually build an educated and caring awareness of the importance and wonder of our Earth. MCSEEP seeks to engage students in local environmental conversations with the hope that these learning opportunities will inspire life long global environmental action.

We use a wide variety of entertaining, informative, and interactive educational methods; building on what was taught the previous year while laying the groundwork for the following year. Accordingly, when our Kindergarten students graduate from grade school, they have a good understanding of environmental issues as varied as solid waste management, conservation of natural resources, biodiversity, groundwater and watershed preservation, global climate change and the impact of consumerism on the natural world.

Our carefully crafted lessons are both enjoyable and educational, offering practical solutions to current environmental problems. In addition, the MCSEEP curriculum meets Next Generation Science Standards, thereby satisfying the environmental education requirements.

The schools we teach in are highly supportive and enthusiastic about our program. If you are not the assigned coordinator for your school  please contact your school coordinator to inquire about lessons or contact Bill Donato at MCSEEP:   List of Environmental Coordinators by School

Please click on your grade to access description, objectives, standards, frontloading material and follow up activities

Pre-School-  Lesson: "Your Garden is a Habitat…. For Earthworms!" Funded by The McHenry County Community Foundation Grant program

Plants grow in garden soil but do animals? Absolutely! In this lesson, children discover an important organism living in a sample of soil taken from a schoolyard garden - Earthworms! Children will be encouraged to explore the characteristics of earthworms and what worms need to stay alive. They will investigate earthworm interactions with the soil to discover the job earthworms play in making soil a healthy habitat for plants and other soil critters too.

Big Idea: Living organisms live in certain environments or habitats. Their role in that environment is called a niche.  We can observe the characteristics that can be used to identify them and how they interact in that environment.

Objectives: Children will be able to:

  1. observe earthworms in a sample of their soil habitat

  2. use words and drawings to describe the characteristics, movements and interactions of earthworms in and out of the soil

  3. work as a nature-scientist (Naturalist) using their senses and other tools: magnifiers, microscopes, scales, and rulers


Living things- organisms that need food for energy, water, air, and shelter, grow, reproduce, and respond to their environment

Habitat - a home for a living thing in the environment

Earthworm - an invertebrate animal that lives in soils

Garden - a habitat for plants and animals

Naturalists - a scientists that studies nature

Camouflage -the covering of an animal that helps it blend in with their environment

IL Early Learning Standards met by this lesson:


11.A: Develop beginning skills in the use of science and engineering practices, such as observing, asking questions, solving problems, and drawing conclusions.

12.A: Understand that living things grow and change.

12.B: Understand that living things rely on the environment and/or others to live and grow.

Language Arts:

5.C: Use writing (dictation or drawing) to research and share knowledge


7A: Measure objects and quantities using direct comparison methods and nonstandard units.

7C: Explore tools used for measurement

Kindergarten - What I DO makes a difference!(40 minutes) 

1st Grade - Our Good Friends, the Trees (40 minutes) 

2nd  Grade - Dirt Made My Lunch (40 minutes) 

3rd Grade - Water - Making Every Drop Count (50 minutes) 

4th Grade - Power Up 2050 (50 minutes)

5th Grade - Importance of Biodiversity(50 minutes) 

6th Grade - Water – Who protects our watersheds (50 minutes)  *

7th Grade - Can we mitigate climate disruption? (50 minutes) 

8th Grade - Making a Sustainable Living (50 minutes) *

HIGH SCHOOL - Green Careers (50 minutes – 1 hour) * Phenology (50 minutes to entire day) Local Pollinators and Climate Change

Picking up where our 8th grade lesson left off, we continue to explore how to balance economic growth with improved care for the environment. Our general career focus shifts to the topic of energy. As the U.S. population grows and when the economy rebounds, electricity demand is expected to increase by approximately one-third in the next 12 years. Worldwide, the demand for energy is expected to double by 2030. How can we power the world without overpowering the environment? This lesson will address that question by looking at the new career fields in renewable energy. We also discuss internship opportunities and how to best prepare students to fill these important roles. Ever optimistic about the future of our children and planet, this workshop takes the first step in identifying the solutions and opportunities that will allow us to emerge stronger and more sustainable. 

Phenology: Monitoring Seasonal events assists scientists in determining major changes to the climate.  Phenology does just that.  Your class will learn about what phenology is, how it can be applied at your school and ways to get involved in citizen science investigations.

Local Pollinators:  A presentation by a local beekeeper will investigate the art of bee-keeping and the role that bees have on the stability of our ecosystem and food supply.  Colony collapse will be discussed as well as possible reasons and methods that the school can do to increase population of pollinators.   

High schools can call our office to schedule a lesson. (815) 334-4054 or contacting Bill Donato:

*These lessons are sponsored by the McHenry County Cooperative for Employment Education (MCCEE). Funding is provided through the State of Illinois, CTEI grant.