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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 143-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.

Field Trip Options

Preschool and Kindergarten NGSS Programs

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? This series cover Life and Earth and Space Sciences.

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. Practice counting and color recognition by spying blooming flowers, singing birds, and buzzing insects.

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

1st, 2nd & 3rd Grade NGSS Programs

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

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 unqiue trait or survival strategy, play a critical role in an animal’s outcome in life.

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

Second Grade

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

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

Comparing Ecosystems
September – October, April – June 1.5 hrs 
Young biologists explore plant life and search for evidence of animal life inhabiting the varied ecosystems by investigating two different ecosystems and compare what makes the diverse plants and animals unique.

Standard: 2-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity & Diversity Core Idea: LS4.D

Michigan Animals
September – June (except March) 1.5 hrs 
Michigan has a variety of ecosystems containing diverse food chains that will allow students to compare the diverstiy of animal life here at Blandford. Meeting our live resident animals will be included.

Standards: 2-LS4 & 3-LS4 Biological Evolution Core Ideas: LS4.C & LS4.D

Third Grade

Predator-Prey Simulation
September – June (except March) 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. Students will experience firsthand what it feels like to be part of a food chain/web, the value of camouflage, animal survival strategies and how being part of a group helps members survive.

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

Skulls, Skins, and Tracks
December – February 1.5 hrs 
Discover the secrets of animal survival during winter and why some animals have feathers, fur, shells, scales or skin.

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

4th & 5th Grade NGSS Programs

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.

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

Plant Structure: Exploring Roots & Shoots
September – October,  April – June 1.5 hrs 
Students will discover the inner and outer workings of plant structure and the critical roles they fill in the bio-diverse ecosystems at Blandford.

Standard: 4-LS1 Molecules to Organisms Core Idea: LS1.A

Fifth Grade

Ecosystem Energy
September – November, 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.

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

Wonderful Wetlands
April – June 1.5 hrs 
Investigate key indicators of healthy wet habitats by measuring water quality and comparing biotic and abiotic factors that make each habitat unique.

Standard: 5-ESS2-2 Earth Systems: Water & Fresh Water Core Idea: ESS2.C

Human Impact on Earth
September – November, April – June 1.5 hrs 
Students will obtain and analyze information on local water resources to make informed decisions on what best practices to utilize when protecting Earth’s resources.

Standards: 5-ESS2 Earth Systems & 5-ESS3 Earth & Human Activity Core Ideas: ESS.3C, ETS1-1 & ETS1-2

K-6th Grade Social Studies Programs

All of the following programs are designed to help meet your curriculum expectations and integrate the Michigan Department of Education Social Studies Standards. The programs listed below are focused on History (H), Geography (G) and Economics (E).

Homestead 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 emphasis will illustrate  rural life as students demonstrate work through the seasons.

Standards: H, G, E

Log Cabin Traditions
December – February 1.5 hrs 
Explore traditional winter celebrations of Michigan settlers that helped make the long nights a little brighter! As students listen to a story, they will enjoy a treat from the wood stove and learn how rural communities came together at the one room schoolhouse.

Standards: H, G, E

Anishinabek Lifeways
September – June (except March) 1.5 hrs 
The cultural heritage of the Grand River comes alive through hands-on experiences with traditional tools. We will travel back 400 years ago to the time of early Native Americans and reflect on how the seasons and resources of Michigan influenced the lives of Anishinabe people.

Standards: H, G, E

Also Available…

A Day in a One-Room Schoolhouse
For a special classroom experience, reserve the historic Star Schoolhouse for a day. This one room schoolhouse, built in 1853, offers a realistic setting for your social studies. Quill pens, slate boards, and other props allow for experiential learning. The schoolhouse can also be reserved in conjunction with a Homestead Life program.

Rental Fee: $125 for the school day; a discount is available with a scheduled program.

Homeschool Programs

Fall Homeschool Registration is closed but please check back in January 2015 for new homeschool opportunities.

Outdoor, hands-on learning abounds at Blandford Nature Center with 143 acres of varied natural communities nestled in Northwest Grand Rapids.  Homeschool field trips to  Blandford will immerse students in nature and are designed to help integrate  Next Generation Science Standards while engaging students’ natural sense of  inquiry.  Each 90 minute program is offered from 1:30 to 3:00 pm, taught by our highly experienced, trained and educated staff and is geared for children 5 to 10 years of age.

Featured Homeschool Program this Fall:

  • Monday, September 15th 2014: ECOSYSTEM EXPLORATION

The forest , marsh and meadow are each home to special creatures and stories. We will investigate these unique habitats, searching for clues that reveal their secrets.

  • Monday,  October 20th 2014: A WILD HARVEST

Animals,including humans, need to make sure they are prepared for a long, cold winter with plenty of food to eat.  Learn strategies different animals have for the winter months, including gorging to storing to changing diets.

  • Monday, November 17, 2014: TAKE A HIKE

Are you a savvy outdoor traveler? Learn trail-smart skills for enjoying the natural world and sharing it with others. We will learn how to use symbols to represent items and then put them on a map key or map legend.

Homeschool Price Guide:

NEW THIS FALL! Take full advantage of Blandford’s package deal. We are  offering Homeschooler’s  3 programs this fall.  The programs will be 90 minutes long, every third Monday from September through November (a semester) at a special fee of only $25.00!  per student/per semester.  The deadline to register for this  program package is  AUGUST 15th with payment in full and nonrefundable unless minimum requirement is not met. The minimum requirement is 30 participants so be sure to tell other homeschool families about this great educational experience.

How to Register:

Contact Kristin Harrison, the Homeschool-Blandford Liaison at: homeschool@blandfordnaturecenter.org  or 616-453-4831 for further details.

Ready to welcome the wild into your classroom?

Let US come to YOU! 

  • Bring the excitement of nature to your classroom with Blandford on the Road presentations and activities that include live, Michigan wildlife.

Blandford on the Road programs are $100 for one program, $50 for additional, same-day programs.

  • Or check out a Nature in the Classroom Kit for two weeks.
  • The Enhanced Education Professional Development workshop is the ultimate way to inspire an energize faculty toward maximizing your schoolyard’s educational opportunities. The workshop take place at your school where we utilize the outdoors for brainstorming and implementation of ideas.

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

Ready to join in on the Outdoor Education Fun?

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:

  • Online form.
  • Email Katie, our Registrar, at katie@blandfordnaturecenter.org.
  • Call Katie, our Registrar, at 616-735-6240 x11

When submitting a request, please include:

  • school/organization name
  • address, city, zip
  • 1st choice date and time
  • 2nd choice date and time
  • contact person
  • phone number
  • group size (30 max)
  • program requested

Failure to include this information may delay scheduling.

Program Cost & Financial Assistance

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

Teachers and chaperones are included in the price on a 1:5 ratio.

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, in 2014 we are able to offer limited financial assistance to groups in need. Please contact Katie Van Doeselaar, Registrar, for more information at 616-735-6240 x11 or katie@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:

Inclement Weather/Cancellation Policy

  • Please note that tours proceed RAIN or SHINE, so please ensure that participants are dressed for the weather, with appropriate footwear.
  • 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.
  • Please note that failure to cancel at least two weeks prior to your tour will result in a $50.00 fee.
  • Refunds will be issued if more than 5 students are missing from the program date. Refunds will have a 5% handling fee.

Blandford Program Reviews

Stoney Creek Staff and Teachers

“Everyone had a great time and the children enjoyed themselves immensely. Many of the students had not experienced nature so up close, so it was a very fun experience! What a treat for our students to explore the nature center and see animals they may not see elsewhere.”

Vanguard Charter Teacher

“The best field trip ever!  The kids are engaged and excited about all the new information.”

West Kelloggsville Teacher

“All of my students and parents said this was the best field trip they have ever been on. Very informative and fit perfectly with what we have been learning.  All the educators were great! We will be back again next year!  Thanks!”

New Branches School

“We enjoy visiting every year! The BEEPS (Blandford Environmental Education Program Students) are always so knowledgeable and keep my first grade class engaged the entire time.  They are amazing! Thank you!” New Branches School