Are you searching for engaging, inquiry-based science curriculum? Download for free several investigations extracted from FHL’s OBJECT LESSONS kits to use in your classroom.

These standards-based lessons absorb middle school students in the processes of inquiry and fascinating science content. There’s also a lesson plan to help you incorporate field journals successfully during outdoor science investigations.

See for yourself. Download these sample investigations and get your students involved in firsthand learning and scientific discovery.


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1. Digging Archaeology – Investigation 1
This is a great set of activities to introduce archaeology to your middle school students and get them outside investigating a “site.” It is taken from Digging Archaeology, an Object Lessons kit that uses archaeological investigation to engage children in the processes of science. The unit is based upon a simulated dig derived from an authentic archaeological site that has been modified for teaching purposes. In this investigation students share what they already know, begin to develop the vocabulary of archaeology, and then go outside where they have a concrete experience measuring and gridding a site. They collect modern day artifacts that the teacher has previously laid out, and then attempt to interpret their finds and infer meaning from the patterns.

Download Digging Archaeology Investigation 1

2. Investigating Insects – Investigation 1
The first Investigation of the Investigating Insects kit focuses on two key questions: “What is an arthropod?” and “What is an insect?” To use these lessons on scientific classification you will need to provide your own arthropod specimens (see lesson 1) and images of arthropods that children can sort. Alternatively you can purchase these materials from First Hand Learning, Inc.:

Order Arthropod Slides (5 sets of 3 arthropods) - $30.00

Order Backyard Invertebrate Cards (set of 35 and accompanying booklet) - $35

Download Investigating Insects Investigation 1

3. Examining Mammals – Investigation 5
This set of three lessons focuses on locomotion. Students develop their own questions about the kinds of information they might deduce from human tracks, and then go outdoors to perform simple experiments to look for answers. Then they apply what they have learned from their experiments. First they observe and record data on five sets of model mammal feet, and then they match the models to the corresponding sets of Track Stencils. These life-sized tracks provide data on the animal’s stride, and on how it moves. They use reference materials to attempt to identify the mammals from their tracks. Track Stories that challenge students to interpret how the animals move about in their environment serve as a springboard for students to create their own track stories for classmates to interpret.
You can find examples of the tracks of all five of the mammals (beaver, deer, opossum, fox, rabbit) used in this investigation in reference books or on the web (see www.enature.com/mammal_tracks/tracks_wizard01.asp or www.gpnc.org/tracks.htm). Alternatively, you can purchase the casts of mammal feet, track stencils, and track stories from First Hand Learning:

Order Mammal Feet (set of 5 pairs) $81.00

Order Mammal Track Stencils (set of 5) $42.00

Order Track Stories (set of 2) $4.95

Download Examining Mammals Investigation 5

4. Using a Field Journal
Prepare your students for scientific exploration of the outdoors with this introductory lesson. By noting observations and measurements, asking questions and recording ideas, students learn firsthand about their environment.

Download the First Hand Learning Field Journal Lesson

Order First Hand Learning Field Journals (grades 4 – 8)

Order Young Investigators Notebooks (grades K – 3)

Did you like these free lessons? Learn more about the units of
which they are a part, and about other FHL products:

Object Lessons kits

First Hand Learning materials for sale

First Hand Learning professional development


Digging Archaeology


Investigating Insects Arthropod Slides & Backyard Invertebrates Card Set


Examining Mammmals Track Stories


Examining Mammmals Feet


Field Journal Lesson