school and daycare programs

School & Daycare Programs

Elementary School (4k-5)

Suggested Themes for Grades K-2

Air and Weather – FOSS 1-2
Hands-on activities help students learn the concepts of wind speed, the water cycle, cloud types, and temperature. Students will have the opportunity to use different weather “tools” ranging from anemometers to simple flags as they compare weather observations between the prairie, woods, or pond habitats. We’ll also visit our Science On a Sphere to view earth from space as we learn about Earth, water vapor, clouds and view real time weather satellite images. Partners well with add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.

Animal Tracks and Signs
Students will learn how to investigate the lives of animals through the tracks and other signs they leave behind. Games, a nature hike and a hunt for animal tracks are included. Great program for winter exploration! Partners well with Snowshoe Science.

Animals 2X2 – FOSS K
Students will turn over logs, look under rocks and dip in the pond in search of animals. We’ll observe their behaviors as well as compare and contrast their structures and habitats. We’ll also learn how to sort and classify our finds and use study mounts to discuss the adaptations of various Wisconsin mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians.

Camouflage in Nature
A green insect on a green leaf. Why do some animals blend in and some don’t? Students will look for the answer to this intriguing question through first-hand observations and games. Pond dipping is included when possible.

Changes Over Time
The Earth is constantly changing and scientists have made observations of these changes over many years. Students will learn the difference between short-term changes such as weather and seasons, and long-term changes such as climate and animal adaptations. We’ll visit “The Children’s Shack” to observe changes in people’s lifestyles and record our observations to create our own records to study.

Fun with the Sun
What is energy? Where does it come from? Students will answer these questions as they investigate different forms and sources of energy. We’ll learn about energy transfer through food chains and how renewable resources help with energy conservation. Partners well with add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.

Habitats
Discover how each organism meets its basic needs for food, water, shelter and space in order to survive. Through a hike, activities and a puppet show, we’ll investigate the prairie, pond and forest habitats of the Nature Center and the life each supports. Pond dipping included when possible.

Incredible Insects – FOSS 1-2
Journey to the pond in search of aquatic insects and take a hike through the prairie to inspect galls and ant hills. A puppet show will illustrate the two types of insect metamorphosis and students will see insect collections up close. A pond dip will give students hands-on experience catching and observing aquatic insects from various life cycle stages; larvae, pupae, nymphs and adults.

Maple Syruping in Wisconsin (Aligned with 4th grade curricula objectives but adaptable for grades K-5.) This program is only offered for two weeks in March.
Students will learn basic tree identification, try tools used to “tap a tree,” taste sap, learn the science of sap flow and watch it cook down to syrup during the boiling process. We will teach the history of maple syrup making from the Native Americans to the present—and taste the final product! Adapts easily to a longer program and works well with add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.

Pebbles, Sand, and Silt – FOSS 1-2
Students will observe, describe, and sort earth materials based on size, texture, and other properties. We’ll explore places where earth materials are found and discuss how they are used. After reading Everybody Needs a Rock, students will “adopt” their own rock. Finally, we’ll hike to the woods to talk about soil creation and meet some critters that call soil “home!”

Pioneer Living (2nd Grade and up)
Wisconsin’s rich cultural history comes to life as students take on roles of early pioneer settlers in Wisconsin in the 1850’s. Students will experience a variety of activities first-hand including games and household chores, like fetching water, churning butter, washing laundry and grinding grain. Students will step back in time as they enter our one-room “Shack” to hear stories and see pioneer tools. Adapts well to a longer program.

Plant Life – FOSS 1-2
Students will observe the diversity of the plant kingdom on a hike through the prairie, woodland and wetland habitats. We’ll study the structure and function of flowering plant parts and learn what all plants need to survive. Students will also record their observations through writing and drawing in a journal.

Pond and Marsh
Our most popular program introduces students to the interconnected community of the pond and marsh. This interactive, hands-on program allows students to discover fascinating pond critters while heightening their observation skills.

Seasonal Discovery
There’s always something new happening at the Nature Center! Students will learn to observe how plants and animals respond to seasonal changes.

  • Fall – Sunny prairie flowers, sticky seeds, migrating birds, scurrying squirrels and falling leaves
  • Winter – Animal tracks, snow crystals, tree skeletons, hardy birds, burrowing mammals
  • Spring – Woodland wildflowers, bursting tree buds, chorusing frogs, returning birds, emerging insects

Snowshoe Science (2nd grade and up) Offered January through mid-March, conditions permitting.
Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy winter and stay healthy! After introducing the history of snowshoeing and learning about various styles, each student will be given a pair of snowshoes and we’ll head out across the snow covered prairie to learn basic snowshoeing skills and techniques. Along our hike, we’ll stop and observe weather, tracks, watch for winter birds and other seasonal highlights. Sit ski available for students with physical disabilities, giving them an opportunity to get outside and explore the snow packed trails alongside their classmates! 

Trees – FOSS K
Students will learn all about trees, leaves and seeds on a hike through woodland and savanna habitats. We’ll match leaves with common geometric shapes and compare leaf types (simple, compound, toothed, lobed). We’ll also make leaf rubbings to create a leaf book and watch a puppet show about seeds.

Using All the Senses
The call of a frog, the scent of a trail, the shape of a leaf, and the texture of bark are all ways to identify plants and animals. Students will learn some techniques to improve sensory observation skills when identifying life as we investigate the trails for the sights, smells, sounds and feel of everything around us.

Wintering in Wisconsin
Where do woodland animals go when the snow flies? Students will learn about true hibernators like the groundhog and deep sleepers such as the chipmunk through this program. They’ll also take an up-close look at the Nature Center’s study mounts and explore the grounds on a nature hike!  Partners well with Snowshoe Science.

To schedule a field trip, please contact our Program Coordinator at (608)-216-9370 or alncreg@naturenet.com.

Suggested Themes for Grades 3-5

All About Birds
“You always can tell what a bird does eat when you look at its beak and you look at its feet.” Students will learn “how birds make a living” with hands-on activities. We’ll examine study mounts before exploring the land with binoculars in search of resident bird species.

All About Energy!
What is energy? Where does it come from? Students will answer these questions as they investigate different forms and sources of energy. We’ll learn about energy transfer through food chains and how renewable resources help with energy conservation. Partners well with add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.

Changes Over Time
The Earth is constantly changing and scientists have made observations of these changes over many years. Students will learn the difference between short-term changes such as weather and seasons, and long-term changes such as climate and animal adaptations. We’ll visit “The Children’s Shack” to observe changes in people’s lifestyles and record our observations to create our own records to study.  Partners well with add-on self guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.

Communities
Aldo Leopold wrote: “When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” During this program, we will define, compare and contrast types of communities found at the Nature Center. The pond, marsh, prairie and woodland are options for seasonal habitat exploration. Pond dipping included when possible.

Crazy About Climate
Find out about the science behind climate and how and why our climate is changing. Through interactive investigations, experiments and activities, students will learn the concepts behind the carbon cycle, greenhouse effect and other scientific phenomenon that contribute to climate change. We will then innovate and create solutions that reduce these effects. Adapts well to a longer program and partners with add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.

Early Native American Life
Take a trip back in time to see how Native Americans lived long ago. A hands-on timeline will demonstrate what foods and tools they depended on and how these changed over time. Students will hike up the drumlin to view Native American mounds and question what they are, how they were made and why they are here. Adapts well to a longer program.

Glaciers: Past, Present and Future
Learn about the glaciers that formed the landscape of Wisconsin and what formations they made along the way. Students will hike a glacial drumlin to see the work of glaciers first-hand, observe a model glacier at work and learn how the earth’s glaciers of today are changing. Come away with an understanding of how powerful glaciers really are, and how they influenced human settlement in Wisconsin and their role in a global ecosystem.  Partners well with add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.

Introduction to Map Reading
This program begins indoors where students are introduced to a variety of maps. After instruction on how to use components of the map, students will venture forth, with maps in hand, to find the “nature treasures” hidden on our grounds. Use of a compass is optional. Adapts well to a longer program.

Leopold’s Life and Legacy Aldo Leopold
As they learn about the Leopold family’s legacy and how Aldo’s land ethic influences conservation efforts even today, students will hike the woods, prairie, and pond areas surrounding the Nature Center and spend time in the Children’s Shack. Partake in some of Aldo Leopold’s favorite past-times such as bird watching, tree identification, or land restoration. We’ll record our observations in the Nina Leopold Bradley Phenology Center. This program combines well with Nature Journaling.

Math in Nature
If you were a frog, how far could you leap? How can we estimate the height of a tree? Ever guess how old a tree is? Naturalists will lead students in a number of math-in-nature activities with the help of measuring tools, formulas, games, and observation skills.

Nature Journaling
Aldo Leopold’s fame can be largely attributed to his skill as a nature writer. In Leopold fashion, students will begin by heightening their observational skills. Students will be given the opportunity to sketch from nature and practice descriptive writing in journals. Students may bring their own journals or use the Nature Center’s simple journal page. This program combines well with Leopold’s Life and Legacy.

Orienteering (4th grade and up)
“Put Red in the Shed and follow Fred.” If you can say this sentence, you can use a compass! Students will learn the parts of a compass and how to use them as well as some basic orienteering techniques. Then, students will apply those skills through demonstrative games and pre-set courses on site.

Outdoor Survival
Anyone could find themselves in a situation where they need to use survival skills. Not only must we respect natural forces but also learn what nature provides to help us survive. Students will learn how to dress appropriately, pack a survival kit and work cooperatively to develop a strategy when faced with a crisis situation. Outdoors, the students work in teams to build a fire, boil water and make a debris shelter.  Partners well with Snowshoe Science.

Pioneer Living
Wisconsin’s rich cultural history comes to life as students take on roles of early pioneer settlers in Wisconsin in the 1850’s. Students will experience a variety of activities first-hand including games and household chores like fetching water, churning butter, washing laundry and grinding grain. Students will step back in time as they enter our one-room “Shack” to hear stories and see pioneer tools. Adapts well to a longer program.

Seasonal Discovery
There’s always something new happening at the Nature Center! Students will learn to observe how plants and animals respond to seasonal changes while enjoying the best of each season.

  • Fall – Sunny prairie flowers, sticky seeds, migrating birds, scurrying squirrels and falling leaves
  • Winter – Animal tracks, snow crystals, tree skeletons, hardy birds, burrowing mammals
  • Spring – Woodland wildflowers, bursting tree buds, chorusing frogs, returning birds, emerging insects

Snowshoe Science Offered January through Mid-March; conditions permitting
Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy winter and stay healthy! After introducing the history of snowshoeing and learning about various styles, each student will be given a pair of snowshoes and we’ll head out across the snow covered prairie to learn basic snowshoeing skills and techniques. Along our hike, we’ll stop and observe weather, tracks, watch for winter birds and other seasonal highlights. Sit ski available for students with physical disabilities, giving them an opportunity to get outside and explore the snow packed trails alongside their classmates!

Structures of Life - FOSS 3-4
Students will observe and compare organisms through examination of study mounts and a pond dip to learn the adaptations of animals in different habitats. We’ll categorize animals through careful observation of physical characteristics. On a hike through the woodland and prairie, students will also discuss seed structure function, and dispersal.

Water - FOSS 3-4
Follow water through the water cycle and investigate the impacts of evaporation and condensation on earth’s weather, using Science on a Sphere. Students will get their hands wet as they explore the pond and discover the connection between water quality and aquatic life. We’ll also experiment how water moves through different types of soil.

Weather Forecasting
After learning about weather and collecting data on today’s weather patterns, students will create a weather forecast for the next day. We’ll explore the differences between weather and climate, learn how the earth’s climate is changing, and discuss factors that play into this change. Adapts well to a longer program and partners well with add-on self-guided exploration of new interactive exhibits.

Winter Ecology
How do animals survive the winter? Come and discover which animals hibernate and which ones stay to endure the rigors of the season. Students will hike the grounds to learn about the ecological importance of snow cover and even ice on ponds! We’ll also look for signs of the animals that stay all winter.  Partners well with Snowshoe Science.

Wonderful Wetlands
What is considered a wetland and how do we know? Students will visit marsh and pond habitats, comparing and contrasting their characteristics. This program includes pond dipping, wetland study mounts, and a hike to the marsh to observe wildlife while discussing the benefits of wetlands.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Please remember – your program topic can be tailored to fit your group’s specific needs. Ask us about a topic of your choice!

To schedule a field trip, please contact our Program Coordinator at (608)-216-9370 or alncreg@naturenet.com.