Children, Youth and Family Programs Fall 2021

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!   

Programs may also be viewed in a calendar.

Registration is open for all Fall 2021 programs.

A note about registration: Many of our programs fill quickly, so we highly recommend registering on the waiting list. We go to this list first if a space opens up. By adding your name, you can help us better plan for the programs that are in high demand.

Pre-Elementary: Ages 3–5 or Grade Pre-K (In-person) click here to read more
Pre-Elementary: Ages 3–5 or Grade Pre-K (In-person)

Nature Discovery Preschool Series: Prehistoric Preschool

Program Full, Wait List Only

with Colleen Kelley
Ages 3-5 (Adult required to attend with child)
Fridays, September 17 – December 3 (no program October 1, 8 and November 26)
Morning session: 9:30am-11:30 am
Afternoon session: 1:00pm-3:00pm
Fee per Child: Tier A-$271 | Tier B-$217 | Tier C-$163  | Tier D-$109
Limited to 12 participants. Limit of 2 children per adult. Siblings under 3 are free.

Nature Discovery Preschool is back to a ten-week series once again, taking place both indoors and outdoors! This season we will travel back in time to the days of the dinosaurs. Children will learn about dinosaurs through stories, songs, movement and crafts. We will compare different dinosaurs, dig for bones, and learn about the plants they munched on. Come have a dinomite time! Please note: This ten-week series will take place outdoors unless there is extreme weather. 

Monarch Tagging 

With Jennifer Unkles
All ages
Saturday, September 18, 2:30-4pm

Drop in to see how monarch butterflies are tagged and ask questions about this amazing creature and their hope filled cycle of survival. 

OR

With Jennifer Unkles
Ages 3+
Wednesday, September 22, 4-5:30pm
Suggested Donation: $5–$30 per person
Limited to 12 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 look for others. Nets and supplies will be provided. We often find other insects on these walks. Data collected will be added for scientific research through the Monarch Watch Citizen Science Project.

Lower Elementary: Ages 5–8 or Grades K–3 (In-person) click here to read more
Lower Elementary: Ages 5–8 or Grades K–3 (In-person)

HOMESCHOOL

Homeschool I: Making and Tinkering a Better Future

Program Full, Wait List Only

With Monya Relles
Ages 6-8, Grades 1-3
Tuesdays 10am-2pm
September 14 -December 7 (No program Sept 28, Oct 19, and Nov 23 for Discovery Days)
Tier A:$728 | Tier B:$582 | Tier C:$437 | Tier D:$292
Limited to 12 participants (if over enrolled, we may open a second class on Thursdays)

In this fall’s Homeschool I class we will be exploring how we create and tinker with the world around us. We will learn by playing with pendulums, marble runs, circuit boards, and more. Through the challenges of making and tinkering we’ll also explore what it means to make mistakes and have resilience, even when something takes more than one try. This class will also have time built in for free play, journal time and organized games.

AFTERSCHOOL

Junior Nature Play Afterschool Series

Program Full, Wait List Only
with
Aemelia Thompson
Ages 5-7 or Grades K-1
Wednesdays, 3:30-5:30pm
September 15 – December 15  (no program November 24)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$436 | Tier B-$349 | Tier C-$261  | Tier D-$175
Limited to 10 participants

Hitchcock’s Junior Nature Play Afterschool Program is designed to let kids be kids. Together we will run, jump, climb, invent, imagine, play and be free-range kids all while developing self-confidence and learning valuable social skills. During Fall Junior Nature Play we will explore wooded trails and fields, play pretend in our mud kitchen, and make leaf crowns.  Our instructors provide a safe setting for children to explore nature and encourage children to stretch their limits.

Nature Play Afterschool Series 

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 6-9, Grades 1-3
Mondays, 3:30-5:30pm
September 13 – December 13 (no program October 11)
*Extended Day: September 13
Fee per Child: Tier A-$401 | Tier B-$321 | Tier C-$241  | Tier D-$160
Limited to 12 participants

-OR-

With Monya Relles
Tuesdays, 3:30-5:30pm
September 14  – December 14
Tier A:$401 | Tier B:$321 | Tier C:$241 | Tier D:$160
Limited to 12 participants

-OR-

Program Full, Wait List Only
With
Jeff Mazur
Wednesdays, 3:30-5:30pm
September 22 – December 15 (no program November 24)
*Extended Day:  October 20th and December 8th
Fee per Child: Tier A-$401 | Tier B-$321 | Tier C-$241  | Tier D-$160
Limited to 12 participants

Hitchcock’s Nature Play Afterschool Program is designed to let kids be kids. Together we will run, jump, climb, invent, imagine, play and be free-range kids all while developing self-confidence and learning valuable social skills. During Fall Nature Play we will explore wooded trails and fields, jump in leaf piles, build forts, climb trees, and make new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us. Our instructors provide a safe setting for children to explore nature and encourage children to stretch their limits.

Early Drop off Option – Due to the changes in the Amherst school schedule, Hitchcock is offering an optional half hour add on before the regular afterschool start time for families who need it. This time will be spent playing games or quiet independent activities before the regular program start time at 3:30pm. This offering is only open for the children registered for the entire afternoon program.

  • Mondays 3:00-3:30pm, September 13 – December 13 (no program October 11)*Extended Day: September 13, 1:00-1:30pm$78
  • Tuesdays 3:00-3:30pm, September 14  – December 14- $84
  • Wednesdays, 3:00 -3:30pm, September 22 – December 15 (no program November 24)*Extended Day:  October 20th and December 8th 1:00-1:30pm – $72
  • Thursdays, 3:00-3:30pm, September 23 – December 16 (no program November 25) – $66

Art in the Forest After School Series

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 8-11, Grades 3-5
Tuesdays, 3:30-5:30
September 14 – December 14 (no program November 2)
Tier A:$383 | Tier B:$306 | Tier C:$230 | Tier D:$153
Limited to 12 participants

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 we will explore our own imagination and expression with activities that include drawing, mud sculptures, natural dying, and more. 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.

Second Saturday Family Science (In-Person Outside) with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 5–7, Grades  K–1
Saturdays, 10–11am
September 18, October 9, November 13, December 11
Suggested Donation: $5–$30 per family

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 18: Composting Critters
October 9: Spiders!
November 13: Oh Deer!
December 11:  Crystals and Snowflakes

DISCOVERY DAYS

Diversity and Biodiversity Discovery Day

With Monya Relles
Ages 6-12, Grades 1 – 6
September 28, 10am – 2pm
Tier A:$76 Tier B:$61 Tier C:$46 Tier D:$30
Limited to 12 participants

On the first discovery day of the fall we will explore and celebrate the ideas of diversity and biodiversity. We will play games and explore the woods to figure out what makes us different and how those differences make us stronger, especially in the face of climate change. 

Poisonous or Venomous: An Exploration of Natural Defenses Discovery Day

With Jeff Mazur

Ages 6-12, Grades 1 – 6
October 19th, 10:00-2:00pm
Tier A:$76 Tier B:$61 Tier C:$46 Tier D:$30
Limited to 12 participants

What’s the difference between poisonous and venomous? Where do these toxins come from? How do plants and animals use their toxins? In this class we will explore the answers to these questions with hands-on activities, games, and nature exploration.  

Abundance and Gratitude Discovery Day

With Monya Relles
November 23, 10am-2pm
Ages 6-12, Grades 1 – 6
Tier A:$76 | Tier B:$61 | Tier C:$46 | Tier D:$30
Limited to 12 participants

What does it mean to have an abundance of something? What would happen if we had an abundance of food, water, or energy and we could share everything at will? What kind of societies did and still do operate with abundance economies? In this class we will explore the answers to these questions with hands-on activities, games, and nature exploration.

Homeschool II: Connections – Where Does it Come From?

With Jeff Mazur
Grades 4-6, Ages 9-12
Tuesdays, 10:00am – 2:00pm
September 14 -December 7 (No program Sept 28, Oct 19, and Nov 23 for Discovery Days)
Tier A:$768 | Tier B:$615 | Tier C:$461 | Tier D:$308
Limited to 12 participants (if over enrolled, we may open a second class on Thursdays)

In such a product oriented society, it is easy to lose connection with how things are made and the origins of our resources. While researching the path of product production we are able to see first hand the energy that goes into making each product. With games, crafts, special guests, home projects and field trips we will develop an appreciation for the resources, time and energy used to make products that we use daily.

FAMILY

Monarch Tagging 

With Jennifer Unkles
All ages
Saturday, September 18, 2:30-4:00pm

Drop in to see how monarch butterflies are tagged and ask questions about this amazing creature and their hope filled cycle of survival. 

OR

With Jennifer Unkles
Ages 3+
Wednesday, September 22, 4:00-5:30pm
Suggested Donation: $5–$30 per person
Limited to 12 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 look for others. Nets and supplies will be provided. We often find other insects on these walks. Data collected will be added for scientific research through the Monarch Watch Citizen Science Project.

Upper Elementary: Ages 9–11 or Grades 4–6 (In-person) click here to read more
Upper Elementary: Ages 9–11 or Grades 4–6 (In-person)

AFTERSCHOOL

Girls into the Wild Series

with Katie Koerten
Ages 8–11 or Grades 3–5
Thursdays, 3:30-5:30pm
September 23 – December 16 (no program November 25)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$357 | Tier B-$286| Tier C-$214  | Tier D-$143

-OR-

with Monya Relles
Thursdays, 3:30pm-5:30pm
September 23 – December 16 (no program November 25)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$357 | Tier B-$286 | Tier C- $214 | Tier D-$143
Limited to 12 participants

Girls into the Wild is back in Fall 2021 for more romping wildly through the field and forests of the Hitchcock Center. As always we’ll visit our favorite places to play in the forest, such as Stump City, the Ferns, and the Faraway Woods – exploring the seasonal beauty of nature as we go. Play games, make friends, and create nature projects in the outdoors! Come build your confidence and show your wild side! Genderqueer, nonbinary, agender and transgender young people are welcome! Please note that the program WILL be held on November 11 – Veteran’s Day!

Wild Children of the Woods Series  

Program Full, Wait List Only
With
Monya Relles
Ages 8-11, Grades 3-5
Mondays, 3:30-5:30pm
September 13 -December 13 (no program Oct 11)
Tier A:$376 | Tier B:$301 | Tier C:$225 | Tier D:$150
Limited to 12 participants

We go to the woods to think, learn, play, and explore in this afterschool series for upper-elementary schoolers. We will roam the grounds of the Hitchcock Center as we watch Fall turn to Winter. We will visit stump city, ferns, and the far-away woods, play some organized games, and learn about the animals, plants, and life in these woods, including ourselves.

Early Drop off Option – Due to the changes in the Amherst school schedule, Hitchcock is offering an optional half hour add on before the regular afterschool start time for families who need it. This time will be spent playing games or quiet independent activities before the regular program start time at 3:30pm. This offering is only open for the children registered for the entire afternoon program.

  • Mondays 3:00-3:30pm, September 13 – December 13 (no program October 11)*Extended Day: September 13, 1:00-1:30pm$78
  • Thursdays, 3:00-3:30pm, September 23 – December 16 (no program November 25) – $66

HOMESCHOOL

Homeschool II: Connections – Where Does it Come From?

With Jeff Mazur
Grades 4-6, Ages 9-12
Tuesdays, 10:00am – 2:00pm
September 14 -December 7 (No program Sept 28, Oct 19, and Nov 23 for Discovery Days)
Tier A:$768 | Tier B:$615 | Tier C:$461 | Tier D:$308
Limited to 12 participants (if over enrolled, we may open a second class on Thursdays)

In such a product oriented society, it is easy to lose connection with how things are made and the origins of our resources. While researching the path of product production we are able to see first hand the energy that goes into making each product. With games, crafts, special guests, home projects and field trips we will develop an appreciation for the resources, time and energy used to make products that we use daily.

DISCOVERY DAYS

Diversity and Biodiversity Discovery Day

With Monya Relles
Ages 6-12, Grades 1 – 6
September 28, 10am – 2pm
Tier A:$76 | Tier B:$61 | Tier C:$46 | Tier D:$30
Limited to 12 participants

On the first discovery day of the fall we will explore and celebrate the ideas of diversity and biodiversity. We will play games and explore the woods to figure out what makes us different and how those differences make us stronger, especially in the face of climate change. 

Poisonous or Venomous: An Exploration of Natural Defenses Discovery Day

With Jeff Mazur

Ages 6-12 or grades 1 – 6
October 19th, 10:00-2:00pm
Tier A:$76 | Tier B:$61 | Tier C:$46 | Tier D:$30
Limited to 12 participants

What’s the difference between poisonous and venomous? Where do these toxins come from? How do plants and animals use their toxins? In this class we will explore the answers to these questions with hands-on activities, games, and nature exploration.  

Abundance and Gratitude Discovery Day

With Monya Relles
Ages 6-12, Grades 1 – 6
November 23, 10am-2pm

Tier A:$76 | Tier B:$61 | Tier C:$46 | Tier D:$30
Limited to 12 participants

What does it mean to have an abundance of something? What would happen if we had an abundance of food, water, or energy and we could share everything at will? What kind of societies did and still do operate with abundance economies? In this class we will explore the answers to these questions with hands-on activities, games, and nature exploration.

Art in the Forest After School Series

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 8-11, Grades 3-5
Tuesdays, 3:30-5:30pm
September 14 – December 14 (no program November 2)
Tier A:$383 | Tier B:$306 | Tier C:$230 | Tier D:$153
Limited to 12 participants

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 we will explore our own imagination and expression with activities that include drawing, mud sculptures, natural dying, and more. 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.

FAMILY

Monarch Tagging 

With Jennifer Unkles
All ages
Saturday, September 18, 2:30-4pm

Drop in to see how monarch butterflies are tagged and ask questions about this amazing creature and their hope filled cycle of survival. 

OR

With Jennifer Unkles
Ages 3+
Wednesday, September 22, 4-5:30pm
Suggested Donation: $5–$30 per person
Limited to 12 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 look for others. Nets and supplies will be provided. We often find other insects on these walks. Data collected will be added for scientific research through the Monarch Watch Citizen Science Project.

Classroom Programs (Virtual) click here to read more
Classroom Programs (Virtual)

Ages 5–8 or Grades K–2

with Aemelia Thompson
Mondays or Tuesdays, 1pm

OR

Helen Ann Sephton
Tuesdays, 1pm

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 CLASSROOM 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. These are single session lessons and not a series.

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) click here to read more
Nature-based Field Trips (Virtual)

with Hitchcock Center Educators
MondaysThursdays, 10am, 11am, or 1pm
Fridays, 10am
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 will 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

COVID-19 Safety

Read our complete COVID-19 Program Participant Guidelines.

Our programs are designed to be fun and engaging and above all safe. For the fall season we will continue with outdoor only programming except in extreme weather, in the event that anyone needs to comes inside they will need to wear a mask whether they are vaccinated or not. The COVID-19 program guidelines are designed to help protect everyone as we meet the strict health and safety requirements of the CDC and our state. Please take the time to read the information thoroughly.  If you feel that you or your child(ren) cannot follow these guidelines, we ask that you wait until these restrictions have been lifted to join one of our programs or events. We may change our guidelines to reflect new guidance from CDC and Massachusetts.

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.

Translate »
Hitchcock Center for the Environment