Children, Youth and Family Programs Fall 2020

Our fall programs are a little different than what we typically offer, as we continue to find flexible and adaptive new ways to meet the needs of children and families during this pandemic. 

Our emphasis is on providing inquiry-based environmental and outdoor education programs for small groups, typically made up of no more than 10–12 individuals. Our programs, as always, are focused on learning from nature, but we are placing a heightened focus on meeting the need children have for unstructured time with their peers. It is essential to children’s social-emotional development and general sense of well-being to be able to play and be free outside with each other!   

List of Fall Programs

Registration is required for all programs. Note that Family and Learning Pod Programs have individual registrations.

Programs may also be viewed in a calendar.

Pre-Elementary: Ages 3–5 or Grade Pre-K (In-person)

Nature Discovery Preschool Adventures (In-person)

with Colleen Kelley
Ages 3–5 or Grade Pre-K
Fridays, 10:00–11:30am or 1–2:30pm
September 4–December 11
Fee per Child: Tier A-$18 per day | Tier B-$14 per day | Tier C-$10 per day | Tier D- $5
Fee per Adult: Tier A-$23 per day | Tier B-$18 per day | Tier C-$13 per day | Tier D- $7
Limited to 12 participants (Limit of 2 children per adult.)

This award-winning adult and child preschool program–the adult accompanies their child(ren)--offers weekly outdoor exploration together combined with multi-modal learning experiences to foster wonder and curiosity about the natural world. Sign up for one or or more days and choose one of two time offerings: Friday mornings or afternoons.

  • September 4: Beautiful Butterflies — afternoon session nearly filled
  • September 11: Seed Surprises — afternoon session nearly filled
  • September 25: Ladybug Love — morning session filled wait list only; afternoon session nearly filled
  • October 2: Leave it to Leaves — morning session nearly filled
  • October 9: Secret Soil Recipe — morning session nearly filled
  • October 30: Mouse Houses — morning session nearly filled
  • November 6: Squirrel Stories — morning session nearly filled
  • November 20: Bountiful Birds — morning session nearly filled
  • December 11: Animals Getting Ready for Winter — morning session nearly filled

Lower Elementary: Ages 5–8 or Grades K–3 (In-person)

Junior Nature Play Series (In-Person) –Series nearly filled

with Katie Koerten
Ages 5–7 or Grades K–1
Mondays, 10am–12pm
September 21–December 14 (no program October 12)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$470  | Tier B-$376  | Tier C-$282  | Tier D-$141

OR

Thursdays, September 24–December 17  (No program November 5 and 26)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$432  | Tier B-$345  | Tier C-$259  | Tier D-$129
Limited to 8 participants per day

We are pleased to offer for the first time a new Nature Play program that includes kindergartners— Junior Nature Play! Children in kindergarten and first grade may sign up for this immersive, lightly-structured program that lets kids be “free-range” while being safely supervised. Instructor Katie Koerten will lead us to our favorite places to play in the forest, such as Stump Town, the Ferns, and the Faraway Woods. Each day includes games, free play, a story and snack time.

Junior Discovery Days (In-Person)

With Katie Koerten
Ages 5–7 or Grades K–1
Wednesdays, 10am–12pm
September 23–December 16
Fee per Child: Tier A-$46 per day | Tier B-$37 per day | Tier C-$27 per day | Tier D-$14 per day
Limited to 8 participants per day

Attention kindergartners and first graders! Junior Discovery Days are one-time nature programs where we notice what’s happening in nature and explore specific topics. Sign up for as many days as you like. Our morning includes snack time, story, a nature project and a game. 

  • September 23: Colors of Nature — Program nearly filled
  • September 30: Catching Crickets — Program full wait list only
  • October 7: Insect Life Cycles — Program nearly filled
  • October 14: A Leaf Rainbow
  • October 21: Wonderful Water — Program nearly filled
  • October 28: Spiders Are Friends
  • November 4: Being Birds
  • November 11: Super Cool Seeds 
  • November 18: White-Tailed Deer Games
  • December 2: Gnome Homes
  • December 9: Faraway Woods Foray
  • December 16: Gifts from Nature

Monday Nature Play Afterschool Series (In-person) Series full wait list only

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 6–8 or Grades 1–3
Mondays, 3:30–5:30pm
September 21–December 14 (no class October 12)
Extended days: September 28 and November 2, 1:30–5:30pm
Fee per Child: Tier A-$335  | Tier B-$268  | Tier C-$201  | Tier D-$101
Limited to 10 participants

Our Nature Play Afterschool Program is designed to let kids be kids. Together we will run, jump, climb, invent, imagine, play and be free-range children, all while developing self-confidence and learning valuable social skills. We will explore wooded trails and fields, play in the leaves, build forts, climb trees, make new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us and use our imaginations. Children will be provided with a safe setting for children to explore nature and stretch their limits as they balance on logs, hold salamanders, or co-create new games with their peers.

Wednesday Nature Play Afterschool Series (In-person) Series full wait list only

with Jeff Mazur
Ages 6–8 or Grades 1–3
Wednesdays, 3:30–5:30pm
September 16–December 16 (no class November 11 or 25)
Extended days: October 21, November 18, and December 16, 1:30–5:30pm
Fee per Child: Tier A-$315  | Tier B-$252   | Tier C-$189   | Tier D-$94
Limited to 10 participants

Our Nature Play Afterschool Program is designed to let kids be kids. Together we will run, jump, climb, invent, imagine, play and be free-range children, all while developing self-confidence and learning valuable social skills. We will explore wooded trails and fields, play in the leaves, build forts, climb trees, make new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us and use our imaginations. Children will be provided with a safe setting for children to explore nature and stretch their limits as they balance on logs, hold salamanders, or co-create new games with their peers.

Morning Nature Play Series (In-person) Series nearly filled

with Katie Koerten
Ages 6–8 or Grades 1–3
Tuesdays, 9:30am–12:30pm
September 22–December 15
Fee per Child: Tier A-$604 | Tier B-$483 | Tier C-$363  | Tier D-$181
Limited to 10 participants per day

Spend Tuesday mornings playing outside in the woods! Challenge your body by balancing on logs and climbing trees. Get as dirty as you like as we romp through the forest, explore under logs, make mud pie feasts and splash in puddles. Notice the changes in nature as we go through the season together. Instructor Katie Koerten will lead kids to our favorite places to play in the forest, such as Stump Town, the Ferns, and the Faraway Woods. Please note: lunch is not part of this program, so please pack a robust snack that includes protein for a mid-program snack.

Art in the Forest Series (In-person) Wednesday series nearly filled

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 7–10 or Grades 2–4
Wednesdays, 10am–12pm
September 16–December 16
Fee per Child: Tier A-$437  | Tier B-$349  | Tier C-$252  | Tier D-$131
Limited to 10 participants 

The natural world has served as inspiration for artists of all varieties for all of humankind’s history.  While surrounded by the undeniable beauty of the outdoors, children in the Art in the Forest program will be encouraged to develop awareness of the details in the natural world and learn how to utilize its beauty in artistic expression. Throughout the fall and into winter we will explore our own imagination and expression with activities that include drawing, poetry, structure building, painting and sculpture. We’ll spend part of our time working together towards creating works of art and part free time in the woods, playing, talking and building community. This series is being offered two times per week on Mondays and Wednesdays. Please sign up for one of the two days.

Girls into the Wild Series (In-person) — Series full wait list only

with Katie Koerten
Ages 8–11 or Grades 3–5
Thursdays, 3:30-5:30pm
September 24–December 17 (no program November 5 or 26)

OR

with Monya Relles
Thursdays, 3:30pm-5:30pm
September 24–December 17 (no program November 5 or 26)

Fee per Child: Tier A-$289  | Tier B-$232  | Tier C-$174  | Tier D-$87
Limited to 10 participants 

Sometimes you just need to run, explore and play outdoors! Girls into the Wild is designed to get girls outside, playing and engaging with nature in their own way. Instructor Katie Koerten offers games and activities that each girl can participate in at her own comfort level, from climbing trees, to playing camouflage in the forest, to running and whooping wildly through fields. Come build your confidence and show your wild side!

Upper Elementary: Ages 9–11 or Grades 4–6 (In-person)

The Ology of Ologists Homeschool Adventure Series (In-person) Tuesday series full wait list only; Thursday series nearly filled

with Jeff Mazur
Ages 9–11 or Grades 4–6
Tuesdays, 9:30am–12:30pm
September 15–November 17 

OR

Thursdays, 9:30am–12:30pm
September 17–November 19
Fee per Child: Tier A-$554  | Tier B-$443  | Tier C-$332  | Tier D-$166
Limited to 10 participants

Join us in this fall program series as we learn the jobs that scientists do. We will focus on a different “ology” each week — from archeology to zoology we will explore different realms of science. This will be an all-outdoor program, and will include a morning circle, an activity focused on the ology of the day, followed by a snack, nature exploration and games. This series is being offered two times per week on Tuesdays and on Thursdays. Please sign up for one of the two days.

Eco-Quest Discovery Days (In-person)

with Jeff Mazur
Ages 9–11 or Grades 4–6
Tuesdays, 9:30am–12:30pm
December 1, 8 and 15 

OR

Thursdays, 9:30am–12:30pm
December 3, 10, and 17
Fee per Child: Tier A-$55 per day | Tier B-$44 per day  | Tier C-$33 per day  | Tier D-$17 per day
Limited to 10 participants

Join us for a quest! You can drop in for one class or all three. We will be completing a quest each week using different skills during the first half of the class, and the second half, after a hearty snack, will be full of nature exploration and games. This series is being offered two times per week on Tuesdays and on Thursdays. Please sign up for one of the two days.

• December 1: Tracks and Signs
• December 8: Marvelous Mapping
• December 15: Compass Quest

OR

• December 3: Tracks and Signs
• December 10: Marvelous Mapping
• December 17: Compass Quest

Games in Nature Afterschool Series (In-person)Series full wait list only

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 9–11 or Grades 4–6
Tuesdays, 3:30–5:30pm
September 22–December 15 (no class November 3)

OR

Wednesdays, 3:30-5:30pm
September 23–December 15

Fee per Child: Tier A-$254  | Tier B-$203  | Tier C-$152  | Tier D-$76
Limited to 12 participants

Play is an essential part of childhood, and playing games can cultivate social-emotional skills that keep us connected. Games in Nature After School will use a combination of structured games and free nature play to build interpersonal skills and to just have fun in an increasingly stressful world. Each week the group will spend time together beginning with games and move into nature play and free game building. Structured games will focus on confidence building, leadership, communication, laughing. Free nature play will give individuals time to observe, experiment, and play, using the inspiration of the natural world. It will also be an opportunity for the co-creation of new simple games (think racing sticks down a river) and an opportunity for kids to practice rule negotiation and boundary set up. This program will provide a space to continue important social-emotional learning during a time of social distancing.

Art in the Forest Series (In-person)Wednesday series nearly filled

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 7–10 or Grades 2–4
Wednesdays, 10am–12pm
September 16–December 16
Fee per Child: Tier A-$437  | Tier B-$349  | Tier C-$252  | Tier D-$131
Limited to 10 participants

The natural world has served as inspiration for artists of all varieties for all of humankind’s history. While surrounded by the undeniable beauty of the outdoors, children in the Art in the Forest program will be encouraged to develop awareness of the details in the natural world and learn how to utilize its beauty in artistic expression. Throughout the fall and into winter we will explore our own imagination and expression with activities that include drawing, poetry, structure building, painting and sculpture. We’ll spend part of our time working together towards creating works of art and part free time in the woods, playing, talking and building community. This series is being offered two times per week on Mondays and Wednesdays. Please sign up for one of the two days.

Girls into the Wild Series (In-person) Series full wait list only

with Katie Koerten
Ages 8–11 or Grades 3–5
Thursdays, 3:30pm-5:30pm
September 24–December 17 (no program November 5 or 26)

OR

with Monya Relles
Thursdays, 3:30pm-5:30pm
September 24–December 17 (no program November 5 or 26)

Fee per Child: Tier A-$289  | Tier B-$232  | Tier C-$174  | Tier D-$87
Limited to 10 participants

Sometimes you just need to run, explore and play outdoors! Girls into the Wild is designed to get girls outside, playing and engaging with nature in their own way. Instructor Katie Koerten offers games and activities that each girl can participate in at her own comfort level, from climbing trees, to playing camouflage in the forest, to running and whooping wildly through fields. Come build your confidence and show your wild side!

Family and Learning Pod Programs (In-Person and Virtual)

Note: Registration for these programs is available via the individual program registration links provided.

Family Monarch Tagging Program (In-Person)

with Jennifer Unkles
Ages 3+
Tuesday, September 8, 4-5:30pm
Wednesdays, September 9 and 16, 4-5:30pm
Thursday, September 17, 4-5:30pm
Suggested Donation: $5–$12 per person
Limited to 10 participants

The monarch butterflies are back and their cycle continues! Come for a small group class to see them up close, learn about their fascinating life cycle, tag and release pre-caught butterflies and then take a hike to find some others. Nets and supplies will be provided. Data collected will be added for scientific research through the Monarch Watch Citizen Science Project.

Second Saturday Family Science (In-Person)

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages ages 5–7 and Grades  K–1
Saturdays, 10–11am
September 12, October 10, November 15, December 12
Suggested Donation: $5–$12 per family
Limited to 10 participants. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Limit of 3 children per adult.

Join us for seasonal nature and science programs each second Saturday of the month. Designed for children (ages 5–7) with their parents, these programs will explore cool topics in nature. 

  • September 12: Pollinators
  • October 10: Our Trees in Autumn
  • November 14: Reptiles in Winter 
  • December 12: Fantastic Foxes

Class Programs (Virtual)

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 5–8 or Grades K–2
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, 1–2pm
September 21–December 18 (no program September 28 or November 2)
Fee per program: Tier A-$61  | Tier B-$50  | Tier C-$37  | Tier D-$18
Group size: up to 22 students, including at least one adult

VIRTUAL CLASS PROGRAMS REGISTRATION

Have a Hitchcock educator pay a virtual visit to your classroom or home! Our virtual class programs will be focused on specific topics to fit with your science curriculum. You will receive special topic-focused, take-home resources, and a remotely accessible video of a Hitchcock educator that will spark student interest. This will be paired with a 40-minute interactive lesson on Zoom with a Hitchcock educator that will end with a fun game that will check for students’ understanding and reinforce lesson goals.

When registering, choose your first and second preference for a date and time and one of the Virtual Class Program themes below:

  • Life Underground: Does a hole in the earth sound like a comfy place to live? To some animals it absolutely does! Living underground takes serious work but it is also a place many animals make their homes or live out their whole lives. Many of the animals that use the earth as their dwelling live right here in Massachusetts. Come dig in with us!
  • Predator and Prey: Trying to survive out in the wild can be a tough job for any animal, whether you’re a fox looking for a mouse to snack on, or the mouse hiding from the fox! Predatory animals have to hunt other animals for their food and their prey must be smart to avoid them. Both have their place in the ecosystem. Learn more about their special adaptations in this classroom program.
  • Flowers and Plants: Can you eat sunlight and help bees make honey? Flowers aren’t just beautiful to see and pick, they are a vital part of nature. In this lesson we’ll look at flowers, the special adaptations they use to thrive in our world, and how we’ve come to depend on them as humans.
  • Insects: What makes an animal an insect? What role do insects play in our world and how are they important to people? Come learn about the adaptations, life cycles and ecology of one of the most successful groups of animals on earth.
  • Decomposers: What happens to plants and animals after they die? Or the banana peel you aren’t going to eat? They become a tasty buffet for some vital critters in the food chain. Decomposers act as nature’s “clean-up crew”– they consume dead animal carcasses, decaying plant material and waste products from other members of the ecosystem. At home you can search for, observe, and study the work of decomposers, and together we’ll explore why these small critters play such a big role.
  • Metamorphosis: We all go through changes in our life, but metamorphosis tops any changes humans can do. Butterflies, frogs, millipedes, all of them experience this incredible process. Learn about the life cycles of our metamorphosing friends in this virtual classroom program.

Nature-based Field Trips (Virtual)

with varied Hitchcock Center environmental educators
Mondays–Fridays, 10am, 11am or 1pm
Field trip length: approximately 45 minutes
September 21–December 18
Fee per Program: Tier A-$94  | Tier B-$75  | Tier C-$56  | Tier D-$28
Group Size: up to 22 participants, including at least one adult

VIRTUAL NATURE-BASED FIELD TRIP REGISTRATION
When registering, choose your first and second date and time preference and one of the Virtual Nature-based Field Trips themes below:

These live-stream virtual field trips use Zoom to offer interactive, inquiry-based learning opportunities for families and learning pods. Upon registration, a field-based “pre-trip” video along with suggested activities and resources will be provided to help engage participants in the learning process prior to participating in the live session. Each field trip has been designed to address grade-level STEM standards. We require one individual to sign up for a group. The price remains the same regardless of group size. It is expected that at least one to two adults attend the field trip via Zoom meeting with their child participants.

Amazing Animal Adaptations
Ages 5–9 or Grades K–4
How do animals survive in the wild? We will focus on the amazing diversity of life on the planet and in our area. In our pre-recorded video, participants will be introduced to live teaching animals by tuning into the talk show “Good Morning Animals.” Students will learn about how biology and behavior helps animals survive in habitat in unique ways. In our interactive live-stream video session, we will come together to share our experiences with local animal adaptations in addition to observation of our teaching animals and stuffed mounts. We will also explore the concept of biomimicry and human adaptations through conversation and games. STEM standards

Insect Investigations
Ages 5–9 or Grades K–4
What makes an animal an insect? What role do insects play in our world and how are they important to people? In our pre-recorded video, we will become entomologists with a Hitchcock educator to adventure into the woods and search for insects. Learn how to identify an insect, where to find them, and the tools you’ll need to collect them. Plus, learn a ton of cool insect facts along the way! We will also come together in an interactive live-stream video session to share our experiences with insects, observe live teaching insects close up, learn about their complex life cycles, and participate in identification games and quizzes. STEM standards

Life in a Pond
Ages 5–10 or Grades K–5
A pond is much more than frogs and fish! In a pre-recorded video, we will demonstrate the beautiful web of pond life from algae and microscopic organisms to insect larvae and amphibians. We will learn how to make a simple pond net, read about what makes a pond a pond, and go on a virtual pond tour. You will be given a list of simple equipment to use to successfully collect pond animals, and will be shown how to safely collect and release these animals. Then we will share our experiences through an interactive live-stream session where we wil get a close-up look at pond invertebrates (animals without backbones), do a scientific drawing, and experiment with the surface tension of water. STEM standards

Mountains and Valleys
Ages 9–10 or Grade 4–5
Discover the stories in the stones around us! The Holyoke Range can tell us much about how the Earth’s crust is shaped. It is a geologically unique area, where we can find evidence of shifting tectonic plates, earthquakes, volcanoes, glaciers, and erosion, all in one place! In this virtual field trip, we will first learn how the everyday landscape provides intriguing clues to the past in a pre-recorded video. Together, we will then explore local geology through video, hands-on experimentation and a live stream video session. STEM standards

Nature-based Field Trips (In-Person)

with Katie Koerten, Helen Ann Sephton, or Aemelia Thompson
Fee per Child:  Tier A-$24 per trip  |  Tier B-$19 per trip  |  Tier C-$14 per trip | Tier D- $7
Fee per Adult:  Tier A-$28 per trip  |  Tier B-$23 per trip  |  Tier C-$18 per trip | Tier D- $9
Limited to 12 participants. Children must be accompanied by an adult (limit 1 adult and up to 4 children).

Attention families, homeschoolers, and learning pods! Back by popular demand, this is a continuation of our summer field trip program for learners and their adults. 

Life in a Stream
with Helen Ann Sephton
Minimum Age 5
Fridays, 10am–12noon
September 4–October 16 (no program September 11)

Or

with Aemelia Thompson
Saturday, 10am- 12noon on September 26 only

Streams are an excellent place for the science of discovery and investigation. The critters who make their home in the stream demonstrate a beautiful web of life, from algae and microscopic organisms, to insect larvae and amphibians. We’ll begin at the Hitchcock Center and use our limnology lab tools to practice techniques for observing small aquatic creatures and learning about their unique life cycles and adaptations. We’ll then head to the Fort River at Groff park, where we will collect and observe several varieties of invertebrates that depend on this habitat.

Mountains and Valleys
with Helen Ann Sephton
Minimum Age 8
Fridays, 10am–12pm
October 23 – December 11
No program November 27

Or

with Aemelia Thompson
Minimum Age 8
Saturdays, 10am–12pm
October 17  & November 28 only

Discover the stories in the stones around us! The Holyoke Range can tell us much about how the Earth’s crust is shaped. It is a geologically unique area, where we can find evidence of shifting tectonic plates, earthquakes, volcanoes, glaciers, and erosion, all in one day’s field trip! We will learn how fascinating geology can be and how the everyday landscape provides intriguing clues to the past. This trip is based at Skinner State Park and involves mostly light hiking with several short steep sections of trail.

COVID-19 Safety

Read our complete COVID-19 Program Participant Guidelines.

Our in-person programs will be held outdoors, even in the cold weather months. Outdoor learning environments have been shown to be one of the safest ways to teach while  preventing the spread of COVID-19.  

Masks will be required at all times when social distancing (six feet apart) is not able to be maintained. This will continue until our local and state health officials say otherwise. 

As much as our teaching approach is “hands-on,” we will be limiting touching and sharing. If any equipment or materials are needed as part of the program, we will provide participants with their own. All equipment and materials will be returned and individually disinfected at the end of the program.

Participants need to come prepared for all outdoor weather conditions. We suggest bringing a backpack with extra layers, including socks and hats, bottled water, and snacks, as well as insect repellent and sunscreen as-needed. 

Fees

Given this time of financial hardship for our community and our organization, we are offering a new sliding scale fee structure aimed to provide greater flexibility in choosing a price that is right for you and your family.

 

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment