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Hands on Learning: Field Trip Programs

Blandford Nature Center helps you bring hands-on, natural learning experiences to your students through our many outdoor field trips!

We guide environmental, content standard learning experiences for students in pre-school through sixth grade. Every season brings more to learn and experience, and Blandford’s 264-acres offers students and groups the opportunity to explore the diverse ecosystems by observing plants, animals, soil, water, seasons and much more throughout the entire year.

Each program is a minimum of 90 minutes long unless otherwise specified.

Blandford Nature Center can host up to 60 students per program. If you have more than 60, you will need to book multiple days/times.

Programs We Offer

Pre-K & Kindergarten Habitat Series

The changing seasons inspire sensory investigation and role-playing that will help students answer the big questions of WHERE do animals live, WHY do they live there and WHAT does it take for them to survive?

Fall Wonders
September – November   1.5 hrs
Explore the fall woods and fields to learn how plants and animals prepare for winter. The changing season inspires role-playing and sensory investigation of life cycles.

Winter Explorers
December – February   1.5 hrs
Discover the beauty of winter and the secrets of animal survival during this cold season. Find out first-hand why some animals have feathers or fur and others have shells, scales, or slimy skin.

Signs of Spring
April – June   1.5 hrs
Spring is an amazing time of growth and change, and the evidence is all around us. Investigate with your senses, practice counting and develop color recognition by spying blooming flowers, singing birds, and buzzing insects.

NGSS Standards: K-ESS2-2 Earth’s Systems, K-LS-1 From Molecules to Organisms, K-ESS3-1 Earth-Human Activity

Core Ideas:ESS2.E, LS1.C, LS4.D, ESS3.A, ESS3.C

Other Pre-K & Kindergarten Programs

Whooo Lives in the Forest?
September – June (except March)   1.5 hrs
Ask WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY, and WHEN questions about Blandford’s owls as students explore their habitat and investigate owl pellets to learn more about the birds of prey that are hunters of the night!

NGSS Standards: K-LS-1 From Molecules to Organisms, K-ESS3-1 Earth-Human Activity

Core Ideas: LS1.C, ESS3.A

Focusing on the Farm Five
September – October & May – June 1.5 hrs
Investigate the Blandford Farm using your five senses! See plants growing, hear pollinators buzzing, smell nectar-rich flowers, taste vegetables, and get hands-on as you and your students experience a day in the life of a farmer.

NGSS Standards: K-ESS2-2 Earth’s Systems, K-LS-1 From Molecules to OrganismsK-ESS3-1 Earth-Human Activity

Core Ideas: ESS2.D, LS1.C, ESS2.2, ESS3.C

First Grade

Birds of a Feather
April – June   1.5 hrs
Discover the amazing world of birds as they call for mates, build nests, and raise their young. Students will identify distinguishing characteristics and meet one of our resident Birds of Prey.

NGSS Standard: 1-LS1.2 Molecules to Organisms Core Ideas: LS1.B, LS3.A & LS3.B

Animal Adaptations
September – June (except March)   1.5 hrs 
How do organisms survive in their environment? Students will learn that animal adaptations, whether it’s an unique trait or survival strategy, play a critical role in an animal’s outcome in life.

NGSS Standard: 1-LS1 Molecules to Organisms Core Ideas: LS1.A, LS1.B, & LS1.D

Second Grade

Seeds and Plants
October – November & April – May 1.5 hrs 
A focus on seed movement has students exploring fields and woods and uncovering secrets of plant and animal interdependence.

NGSS Standard: 2-LS2 Ecosystem: Interactions, Energy and Dynamics Core Idea: LS2.A

Third Grade

Michigan Ecosystems
October – November   1.5 hrs 
Young biologists explore two different Michigan ecosystems, searching for evidence of biodiverse food chains within the unique habitats. Program will finish with an up close view of Blandford’s Wildlife Ambassadors.

NGSS Standard: 3-LS2 Ecosystems3-LS4 Biological Evolution Core Idea: LS4.C & LS4.D

Predator-Prey Simulation
September – November & April – June  1.5 hrs 
What does it take for an animal to survive in the wild? Students will engage in an action-packed simulation to explore and understand the complex interactions between herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores in an ecosystem. They will experience firsthand what it feels like to be part of a food chain, the value of camouflage, and other animal survival strategies.

NGSS Standards: 3-LS2 & 3-LS4 Biological Evolution Core Ideas: LS2.C, LS2.D, LS4.B, LS4.C & LS4.D

Snowy Survivors
December – February  1.5 hrs   Add snowshoes to your program for a special 2-hour experience!
Discover the secrets of animal survival during the winter and how animal characteristics and adaptations help them thrive during this cold and snowy season. Program is 1.5 hrs. without snowshoes; 2 hrs. with snowshoes (Snowshoe availability is dependent on amount of snowfall).

NGSS Standard: 3-LS1 Molecules to Organisms  Core Idea: LS1.A

 Fourth Grade

Wildlife with a Backbone
September – June (except March) 1.5 hrs
Learn about vertebrate groups, their unique qualities, and habits. Live animals and hands-on props highlight adaptations the different vertebrates use for protection, warmth and food gathering.

NGSS Standard: 4-LS1 Molecules to Organisms Core Ideas: LS1.A & LS2.D

Farming Comes Naturally
April – June  1.5 hrs
Discover how a farm is like an ecosystem, the impact of farms have on our health, and the impact they have on the health of the biosphere. Visit the greenhouses, examine soil samples, learn about vermiculture, and greet the resident farm animals!

NGSS Standard: 4-LS1 Molecules to Organisms, 5-ESS2 Earth Systems, & 5-ESS3 Earth & Human ActivitCore Ideas: 4-LS1-1, 4-LS1-2, 4-ESS3-1, 3-5-ETS1, 5-LS2-1, 5-ESS2-A & 5-ESS3-C

Fifth Grade

Ecosystem Energy
September – October & April – June 1.5 hrs 
Everybody has to eat something and something eats everything! Follow the sun’s energy by exploring plants, animals and fungi through the lens of a producer, consumer, or decomposer.

NGSS Standards: 5-LS2 Ecosystems, 5-ESS-2 Earth Systems & 5-PS3 Energy Core Ideas: LS2.A & LS2.B

Watershed Guardians
April – June 1.5 hrs 
Discover essential aspects of a watershed as well as investigate key indicators of healthy wetlands by evaluating biotic and abiotic factors. Students will explore ways that their actions can impact the watershed, as well as other natural resources, around them.

NGSS Standard: 5-ESS2-2 Earth Systems: Water & Fresh Water  & 5-ESS3 Earth & Human Activity Core Idea: ESS2.C, ESS.3C, ETS1-1 & ETS1-2

The programs listed below are focused on History (H), Geography (G), and Economics (E) from the Michigan Department of Education Social Studies Standards. Create the perfect learning experience by selecting which topics you would like to cover for your customized program.

Pioneer Life
September – June (except March) 1.5 hrs
Students will be immersed in the rural life a pioneer child by using machines and toys of pioneer times and visiting historic buildings. Simple machines emphasize the rural ways of pioneers as students explore an old-fashioned life in the different seasons. This program’s duration is 90 minutes which includes a 10 minute intro and four 20 minute stations (options below). Additional 20 minute stations can be added for a flat $50 fee. Stations can also be extended to 40 minutes.

  • Log Cabin (indoor-heated)
  • Blacksmith (sheltered)
  • Pioneer Barn (sheltered)
  • Schoolhouse (indoor-heated)
  • Recess with pioneer toys & games (indoor/outdoor)

Standards: H, G, E

Anishinabek Lifeways
September – June (except March) Minimum of 1.5 hrs 

The cultural heritage of the Grand River comes alive through hands‐on experiences with traditional tools. We will investigate how the seasons and resources of Michigan influenced the lives of Anishinabe people around 500 years ago. This program’s duration is 90 minutes which includes a 10 minute intro and four 20 minute stations (options below). Additional 20 minute stations can be added for a flat $50 fee. The most common/standard stations are listed below. The additional station options are listed right below the standard station options and can be substituted in or added on as requested.

Standard Options:

  • Wigwam (outdoor sheltered)
  • Hunting (indoor/outdoor)
  • Agriculture (indoor)
  • Lacrosse/Snow Snake (depending on weather) (outdoor)

Additional Options:

  • Fishing (indoor)
  • Forage & Tracking Hike (outdoor)
  • Cordage (indoor)
  • Bowl Dice (indoor)
  • Moccasin Game (indoor)
  • Pine Dancers (indoor)

Standards: H, G, E

Sugarbush
March   1.5 hrs  THIS PROGRAM BOOKS QUICKLY! REGISTER EARLY TO ENSURE YOUR SPACE.
Experience the science of maple syrup production! Identify maple trees, collect data on forest health, and smell the sweet syrup cooking in the Sugarhouse. Practice modern methods of tapping, collection, and boiling using real tools, then taste the sweet results. A puppet show introduction is featured in K & 1st grade trips.

Standards: K-ESS2-2 Earth’s Systems, K-LS-1 From Molecules to Organisms, K-ESS3-1 Earth-Human Activity

Core Ideas: ESS2.E, LS1.C, LS4.D, ESS3.A & ESS3.C

Don’t see what your looking for? Give us a call and we can discuss customizing a program to meet your needs!

Below are 2 easy ways to bring your students to Blandford Nature Center today!

Request a Field Trip

We look forward to helping your students discover our local natural environment and learn how they are connected to it. Registration is easy! Please choose from one of the following registration methods:

  1. Email our Registrar, at registrar@blandfordnaturecenter.org
  2. Call our Registrar at 616-735-6240 x 10

Please Submit the Following Info:

When submitting a request, please include:

  • School/organization name
  • Address with City & Zip
  • Contact person
  • Phone number
  • Group size (60 max)
  • Program Choice
  • 1st Choice Program date and time
  • 2nd Choice Program date and time

Failure to include this information may delay scheduling.

program-costsThe cost for the program is $5.00 per student, with a $80.00 program minimum.

Teachers, staff, and adults are free within a 1:5 ratio. Additional adults are welcome at $5.00 each.

An invoice will follow your emailed program confirmation. Invoice payment is preferred ahead of the field trip date however you may pay at the time of the program.

Are you interested in bringing your students to Blandford but finding it difficult to pay for the trip?

Thanks to our generous contributors The Wege Foundation, Wolverine Worldwide, and Amway, we are able to offer limited financial assistance to groups in need.

Please contact our Registrar, for more information at 616-735-6240 x 10 or registrar@blandfordnaturecenter.org. When emailing, please include the percentage of students below the poverty level, and the percent of minority students.

If awarded, scholarships will cover $2 of the $5 cost. Price per student will be $3.

As we come across grants and opportunities that may benefit your school we will also list them here. Please check back from time to time for updates:

  • field-trip-policiesThe majority (if not all) of your program will be outside. Please note that programs proceed RAIN or SHINE, so please ensure that participants are dressed for the weather, with appropriate footwear and outerwear.
  • In case the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning we will cancel the program; there is no fee for cancelling due to severe weather.
  • Cancellation notice must be received at least 21 business days before the scheduled program to receive a full refund and avoid $50.00 cancellation fee. This policy does not apply to cases of inclement weather or programs that are rescheduled (based on availability).
  • Refunds will be issued if more than 5 students are missing from the program date. Refunds will have a 5% handling fee.