Tag Archives: teacher resources

Join Dani’s Dreams Team and get a FREE ECOFEST T-shirt!

DanisDream3Southern Hancock kids, parents and community members can Change the World by supporting Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Programs and sponsoring ECOFEST lessons in our elementary schools.
SIGN UP TODAY to become a Dani’s Dreams Team member and get a specially designed T-shirt for your elementary school. Members can pick up your T-shirt at the ECOFEST Earth Day Festival April 15 at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center at Zion Lutheran School, New Palestine.
The school with the most memberships by the ECOFEST Earth Day Festival April 15  will win a $300 grant for your school! Proceeds from the memberships go to support the Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Trail at Sugar Creek Township Park coming in 2016!








‘Hibe and sleep’…

Drawing by Sarah Adam, 7th grade, Doe Creek Middle School

By Christina Harkleroad, intern coordinator

Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center
Now in the midst of winter, some animals are in a stage called hibernation. This is a state of inactivity where their body temperature decreases and their heartbeat and breathing slow down. Their bodies go through this to conserve energy that the animals spent all fall saving up. During fall time, the animals eat an increased amount of food to increase their overall body fat. This allows them to be insulated and they will use it throughout their hibernation period for energy.
Many animals hibernate. Some animals in our area that hibernate are skunks, chipmunks, some squirrels, and some bats. Also, bears hibernate but those are not in our area. They are mainly in mountain regions to our south and east. These animals hibernate to conserve energy in the winter months when food is hard to find. As animals prepare for hibernation, they eat enough food to last them through the upcoming winter months. Their bodies produce special fat tissues around their brain, heart, and lungs to provide extra insulation in those areas.
Animals who use lots of energy throughout the winter days, but do not hibernate, become dormant during parts of the day. This is similar to hibernating however instead of sleeping throughout winter, they sleep for a major part of the day in order to conserve energy. Hummingbirds and some small bats are examples of animals that are dormant for parts of winter.
During winter you see less squirrels, chipmunks, and skunks, now you know that they’re just in hibernation and once spring rolls around, they’ll be back to their playful ways. In my next column, I will be exploring what germination is as spring time grows closer and the flowers begin to bloom.

Check out the Dani’s Dreams Facebook Page to see the Top 10 Coolest Hibernators! Become a Dani’s Dreams Team Member here and find out how to track animals with our winter newsmat! You’ll get a wristband and a certificate, too!


Join Dani’s Dreams Team Today! Celebrate “Our Water, Our World” at Children’s Museum Night Feb. 3

Dani's Dream Museum Night Flyer

Southern Hancock Families – join Dani’s Dreams at Zion Lutheran School Feb. 3, 6-8 p.m. for the annual Children’s Museum Night with hands-on family activities focusing on “Our Water, Our World.”

Children’s Museum Night marks the beginning of a special year at Hancock County’s ONLY Outdoor Education Center, which is “Spreading Our Wings” to Sugar Creek Township Park and to Southern Hancock Schools with ECOFEST lessons and projects.

We are also kicking off our first annual MEMBERSHIP CAMPAIGN! Don’t miss out on your chance to plant the seeds of innovative education opportunities for New Palestine area children – Join Dani’s Dreams Team and become a yearly member for as little as $25 per individual or $50 for everyone in your household! Each child who joins Dani’s Dreams team will receive a membership certificate, wristband, a seasonal e-newsmat and admission to all Dani’s Dreams events during the year.

Businesses can sponsor Dani’s Dreams environmental education lessons for a Southern Hancock or Zion Lutheran classroom for $100!

Call 317-640-4430 or email dgriffins96@gmail.com for marketing, promotional and sponsorship opportunities for your business with Dani’s Dreams community facilities and events!



Taking care of ‘Our Common Ground’ – Dani’s Dreams coming to Sugar Creek Park

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Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center is joining forces with the Sugar Creek Township Park Board, New Palestine High School teacher Brittany Bennett and her AP Environmental Science class and Donna Rogler, Indiana DNR Project Learning Tree specialist, to develop a second education trail/activities for Southern Hancock students, teachers, families and community members, to be named, Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Trail at Sugar Creek Park.

NPHS AP environmental science (APES) students under the direction of Ms. Bennett will research, write and design signage as well as plan and lead activities for the trail. Ms. Rogler will provide curriculum, training and activities through Project Learning Tree.
Initial plans were announced Nov. 4 at the Dani’s Dreams Family Tree Day event at Sugar Creek Park (photo gallery above).

“The trail would have an overall theme of sustainability and should be a place the whole community can enjoy at any time to learn about the nature around them,” said Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center director Donna Griffin.

Dani’s Dreams has been working with New Palestine High’s APES students on the plan for the trail. Four stations are under development, focusing on:

Native trees/plants
Water/Hoosier Riverwatch.

Bennett and her students will be the leaders for the development and implementation of the trail, integrating their work into the APES curriculum and Dani’s Dreams mission to encourage and support teachers in use of creativity in the classroom, to foster an interest in science and discovery with projects designed to develop an appreciation, responsibility and concern for the natural world.

“Dani’s Dreams Nature Education Trail at Sugar Creek Township Park will build the next generation of committed invested citizens of New Palestine,” Griffin said. “This will empower the youth in this community to be leaders in their community and school and active participants in their education. The education value of this project is more than doubled with high school students teaching and mentoring elementary and middle school students and sharing their knowledge with the community.”

Community businesses, organizations, families and individuals who want to be involved in this innovative STEM education project, can contact Donna Griffin, dgriffins96@gmail.com or Brittany Bennett, brittanybennett@cscshc.org.

“Community-based environmental education can also support opportunities for intergenerational learning. With these kinds of approaches, community residents from young to old can learn from each other.” – National Environmental Education Foundation Environmental Literacy Report, 2015.



Join Dani’s Dreams for ‘Tree’-mendous fun today at Sugar Creek Park!

Take a nature walk, learn about trees and get creative – share the beauty of fall and the wonderful weather (while it lasts) today at Sugar Creek Park.

Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center invites all New Palestine families to Family Tree Day at Sugar Creek Park today, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 4-5:30 p.m. Join us for fun, outdoor education activities for all ages and be a part of the plans for “Our Common Ground.” Contact Donna Griffin at dgriffins96@gmail.com for more information. Stay tuned to http://www.danidreamsoutdooredcenter.com and the Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center Facebook Page for more details.


PHOTOSYNTHESIS: Carbon Dioxide + Water + Light —-> Sugar + Oxygen

Dani’s Dreams reporter Anna Caster, Zion Lutheran student, gives you the fun facts about our towering tree friends:
By Anna Caster
Trees are very beautiful! There are many kinds of trees, such as Norway Spruce, White Pine, Juniper, Tulip Poplar, Maple and Cherry. Trees are useful for many different things in many different ways, such as shade, protection and shelter for animals, paper and wood products, and many other things.
Trees breathe in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Humans are the exact opposite, we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Trees are helpful in making gum, picnic tables, cutting boards, doors, and trees help keep the soil on the ground from having erosion. Trees are wonderful plants that God made for the enjoyment of humans and animals.
Trees can do so many different things in so many different ways. I love trees and you should too!

More about Monarchs and their amazing migration…

By Christina Harkleroad, coordinator,

Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center

Drawing by Victoria Miano, second grade, Zion Lutheran School

With Monarch Migration reaching a peak, and the success of our recent Butterflies UPCLOSE event, this week in our Dani’s Dream Outdoor Education column, we will be exploring butterflies. How do they live? What do they eat? How are they born? All these questions and more will be answered.

Monarch butterflies are found all across America. Monarchs spend their winter months in Mexico, but during the summer, they fly to America and even Canada. They can fly thousands of miles to make it to their summer homes. Not sure what monarch butterflies look like? They have black and orange wings and usually have a wing span of 3 ½- 4 inches. Their bodies are black and they have 2 black antennas on their heads. Males have a large black spot on their hind wings and females do not. Monarchs normally eat flower nectar for food. Milkweed flowers, clovers, thistles, goldenrods, ironweed, and sunflowers are all popular foods for monarchs.

Drawing by Lillian Buist, second grade, Zion Lutheran School

Unfortunately, monarchs have a short life-span and live between 3-5 weeks on average. Because their lifespan is short, they must have multiple generations during the summer. By the end of the summer, the last generation must fly to Mexico for their over-wintering period. Monarchs flying north in the spring to the United States will find a mate. As they reach the U.S., the females will look for milkweed to lay their eggs. They eggs hatch after approximately 4 days and over a 2 week period, the caterpillars grow. Once they grow large enough, the caterpillars create a chrysalis or a cocoon and being the process of metamorphosis. The chrysalis is green with yellow spots and it provides protection for the caterpillar. After 2 more weeks, the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis. This process continues until it is time for the butterflies to fly back to Mexico.

Right now the Monarchs are just heading into Texas and a few are crossing the border into Mexico. Track this year’s migration on Monarch Watch.

For a fun story to read and learn more about the Monarch Life Cycle, click on “The Adventures of Ralph Sean Green” on our home page.

In the next column, we will be exploring ways other countries are becoming environmentally-friendly.

Second graders step up to learn, grow and share knowledge about Monarchs

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They flitted, they flew, and they soared – Monarchs and kids alike – at the Butterflies UPCLOSE event at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center at Zion Lutheran School. More than 100 kids, parents and butterflies celebrated the joy of nature and God’s creation, led by teacher Brenda Kreutz and her second graders who were the tour guides for the butterfly house. The 14 students spent the last six weeks learning about the life cycle of a Monarch by growing close to 30-40 caterpillars, observing and recording the process in reports they shared with those in attendance. They worked with Betty Bemis of Backyard Butterflies who provided the caterpillars and her expert advice. The New Palestine community joined forces to support this innovative STEM educational event for area children. Willing Hands Entertainment provided face painting, New Palestine High School environmental education students and teacher Brittany Bennett helped with Monarch tagging and event organization. Dani’s Dreams thanks all those who attended for making the day so special and being active participants in creating, exploring and discovering!

What is sustainability? Let’s Find Out…

Christina Harkleroad, center, begins her internship as coordinator at Dani's Dreams Outdoor Education Center. Director Donna Griffin receives a grant from Kara Harrison of the Hancock County Community Foundation for Dani's Dreams Internship Program.
Christina Harkleroad, center, begins her internship as coordinator at Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center. Director Donna Griffin, left, receives a grant from Kara Harrison, right, of the Hancock County Community Foundation for Dani’s Dreams Internship Program.

Director’s note: Each week families will learn about the environment and discover new ways to change the world with a weekly column by Dani’s Dreams’ first intern, Christina Harkleroad, a senior at Indiana University, majoring in International Studies with a concentration in sustainability. Christina is also a Dani’s Dreams Scholarship winner, and graduate of Lutheran High School.
By Christina Harkleroad
Coordinator, Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center

Hello, my name is Christina Harkleroad and I am currently a senior at Indiana University.  I am majoring in International Studies with a minor in Environmental and Sustainability studies.  I enjoy my major because it shows me how interconnected our world is.  Understanding how the world works and how other countries deal with their issues is important in helping us understand our own problems.

Health and the environment are essential issues today and in the future.  Sustainability is a vital issue that needs to be focused on.  If we continue living the way we currently are, the world will be left with no resources. That is why Dani’s Dream is working to educate this generation and future generations about outdoor education.

Education about the environment is a hot topic currently and living more sustainably has become a way of life for many Americans. In this introductory column, at Dani’s Dreams we want to help you understand what sustainability is and offer a few ideas about how to start living more sustainably.
First, what is sustainability? According to the National Science Foundation, sustainability is defined as promoting a system that supports human well-being as well as sustaining environmental systems. To put that in kid-friendly terms, sustainability is living within our environmental limits so we do not harm the environment. Finding a way to live truly sustainably can be challenging. However, Dani’s Dreams’ mission is to change the world!
We can change the world by promoting sustainable actions among our friends and family. Little actions each day can make big differences. First, REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE. These ‘3 Rs’ will be your best friends when living sustainably.
1) REDUCE how much waste you leave behind. By reducing waste, we limit how much trash we put into landfills which can harm the environment. Composting is one way to help.
2) REUSE refers to the fact that many times we can reuse something instead of throwing it away. For example, using a reusable water bottle will help you reduce waste.
3) RECYCLING is the easiest way to help the environment. Many forms of trash can be recycled and used again in another product. Plastic can sit in a landfill for over 1,000 years, but can easily be recycled in seconds. Many Hancock County churches and schools have paper recycling drop offs that are also fundraisers. The Hancock County Solid Waste Management recycling guide has a list of locations.
Reduce, reuse, recycle is an easy way to live more sustainably, and the benefits of a healthier environment are worth the extra effort.
In next week’s article, we will be exploring butterflies. If you’re interested in learning more about butterflies, come to Dani’s Dreams for our Butterflies Up-Close event Sept. 16 from 3-5 p.m.

Scholarship winner to join fight against Alzheimer’s

Third Place Paige Taylor
Third Place Paige Taylor

The 2015 Dani Griffin Innovation in Education Memorial Scholarship winner is Benton Turner, 2015 graduate and valedictorian of Lutheran High School, but he was not chosen for his impressive academic accomplishments, but for the power and passion that drives him in his future career path.

Benton, the son of Tracy and James Turner, Greenfield received an Indiana Core 40 Academic Honors Diploma. At Lutheran High School, he was involved in the Academic Super Bowl, Spell Bowl, National Honor Society, Indiana State House Ambassador, varsity golf, Voice of Democracy State Finalist, United States Senate Youth Program State Finalist, Spanish Club and Student Council.

He worked in the community for Zion Lutheran Church and School, of which he is a member, and as special projects coordinator at The Sharing Place of Greater Indianapolis. He will attend DePauw University and major in biology.

Benton will be recognized at the Aug. 1 Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run at New Palestine High School.

In the seven years of the Dani’s Dreams scholarship program, more than $3,500 has been awarded to deserving young people in area high schools. They are all changing the world in positive ways through their academic and creative efforts. You can help them by donating or registering for the Aug. 1 Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run on this website.

Following is Benton’s essay which everyone should read:


By Benton E.N. Turner

It is the blank, foreboding stare. I do not think there is fear, sadness or pain. Rather, there is nothing, and that is the worst part. One can quickly learn to cope with the forgetfulness, misplaced objects, forgotten names, and confused faces. I think that is the easy part; at least I do now. So many people seem to think this disease is only the forgetfulness. However, it is a forgetfulness that invades all aspects of one’s life. It starts with names, events, faces, but it does not stop there. It is a relentless forgetfulness that leaves nothing. It erodes emotions, erases histories, infect simplicity. It steals loved ones. It stole my grandmother.

To some, choosing a career path at 18 may seem like a daunting task. However, I know what I need to do. Having watched Alzheimer’s steal my grandmother’s memories, independence, and livelihood, I feel called to pursue a career in medicine and research. I plan to major in the biological sciences at DePauw University, attending medical school, and eventually specializing in neurology. I am not so naive as to think one person can cure Alzheimer’s Disease. This war will take many soldiers, tirelessly working together to find a cure. I want to join this fight. I have witnessed how unforgiving Alzheimer’s Disease is, and as a physician, I would be able to provide a unique perspective, understanding what patients and their families go through. That is, the perpetual loss, piece by piece, of a family member.

Why do I wish to pursue a career in the sciences? Simply put, it is the nothing that drives me. There is nothing that can be done for Alzheimer’s patients. There is no pill to temporarily alleviate symptoms, no treatment regimen, and no path to remission; there is nothing. It is the nothing that ceaselessly invades my grandmother’s life, forcing her to forget the life she lived, the family she loved, and the memories she had accumulated. But most importantly, it is the nothing I see in her tired eyes; the lack of energy, personality, and liveliness that once dominated her life.

They are gone.

Change The World – One moment at a time! Start today…

Today’s the day for old-fashioned fun and learning at Dani’s Dreams Earth Day Challenge April 17, 3:30 p.m.

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Support innovative STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Math) education projects for grades K-8 by donating to Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center. Next school year alone Dani’s Dreams will be expanding the Butterfly Garden with a pavilion and a campaign to help the endangered Monarch Butterfly, opening our solar power exhibit at the Go Green Center and starting an internship program for area college students.

You can donate today to support Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center’s innovative projects and register for the Aug. 1 Dani’s Dreams Memorial Walk/Run here. Help kids “Change the World with your donation. Dani’s Dreams does not charge for special events, activities and teacher resources and relies solely on donations and grants for funding.

Email dgriffins96@gmail.com for more information.