Children, Youth and Family Programs Spring 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.

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)

Nature Discovery Preschool Adventures 

Ages 3–5 or Grades Pre-K
Limited to 12 participants (limit of 2 children per adult).

with Colleen Kelley
Fridays, 10:00–11:30am OR 1:00–2:30pm

OR

with Helen Ann Sephton
Fridays, 10:00–11:30am OR 1:00–2:30pm

Fee per Child: Tier A-$17 per day | Tier B-$13 per day | Tier C-$9 per day | Tier D- $7
Fee per Adult: Tier A-$21 per day | Tier B-$17 per day | Tier C-$13 per day | Tier D- $9

Come explore the surprises of Spring! This award-winning adult and child preschool program offers weekly outdoor exploration together combined with multi-modal learning experiences to foster wonder and curiosity about the natural world. Each program includes movement, song, nature exploration, snacktime, and a story. Sign up for one or more days and choose from one of two time offerings, Friday mornings or afternoons. An adult caregiver must attend with child(ren).

Spring Sessions
March 19: Water Wonders
March 26: Vernal Pool Discoveries
April 2: Mud Magic
April 9: Signs of Spring
April 16: Chipmunk Song
April 30: Turtle Time
May 7: Bud Babies
May 14: Camouflage Fun
May 21: Nest Builders
May 28: Flower Fun
June 4: Colors in Nature
June 10: Roxaboxen
June 18: Roly-poly-ology

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

Junior Nature Play Series

with Katie Koerten
Ages 5–7 or Grades K–1
Mondays, 10am–12:00pm
March 22 – June 7 (no program April 19 or May 31)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$400 | Tier B-$320 | Tier C-$240  | Tier D-$160
Limited to 8 participants

OR

Thursdays, 10:00am-12:00pm
March 25 – June 10 (no program April 22)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$440 | Tier B-$352 | Tier C-$264  | Tier D-$176
Limited to 8 participants

Junior Nature Play continues into Spring 2021! 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 City, the Ferns, and the Faraway Woods. We’ll observe how nature changes as winter melts into spring and make exciting seasonal discoveries! Each day includes games, free play, a story and snack time. 

Junior Nature Play Afterschool

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 5-7 or Grades K-1
Wednesdays, 3:30-5:30pm – Program full, wait list only
March 24- June 9 (no class April 21)
Extended days: March 24th, April 14, May 12th, June 2nd 1:30-5:30pm
Fee per Child: Tier A-$413 | Tier B-$330 | Tier C-$248 | Tier D-$165
Limited to 8 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 Spring Nature Play we will explore wooded trails and fields, play in the mud, 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. This program is available to kindergarteners and first graders. 

Nature Play Afterschool Series

Ages 6-9 or Grades 1-3

with Aemelia Thompson
Monday Series, 3:30-5:30pm – Program full, wait list only
March 22- June 7 (no class April 19 or May 31st)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$275 | Tier B-$220 | Tier C-$165  | Tier D-$110
Limited to 10 participants

OR

With Monya Relles
Tuesday Series, 3:30-5:30pm – Program full, wait list only
March 23 – June 8 (no class April 20)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$303 | Tier B-$242 | Tier C-$182  | Tier D-$121
Limited to 10 participants

OR

with Jeff Mazur
Wednesday Series, 3:30-5:30pm – Program full, wait list only
March 24 – June 9 (no class April 21) (11 weeks)
Extended days: March 24, April 14, May 12, June 2, 1:30-5:30pm
Fee per Child: Tier A-$413 | Tier B-$330 | Tier C-$248 | Tier D-$165
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 Spring Nature Play we will explore wooded trails and fields, play in the mud, 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.

Morning Nature Play Series

with Katie Koerten
Ages 6–8 or Grades 1–3
Tuesdays, 9:45am–12:45pm – Program full, wait list only
March 23 – June 8 (no program April 20)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$557 | Tier B-$446 | Tier C-$334  | Tier D-$223
Limited to 10 participants

Morning Nature Play continues into spring 2021! Every day is a mix of games, exploring and playing. We’ll romp and play in the fields and forests of the Hitchcock Center, noticing the beauty of the spring season and playing wild games. 

Junior Discovery Days Series

With Katie Koerten
Ages 5-7, Grades K-1
Wednesdays, 10:00am-12:00pm 
March 24 – June 2 (no program April 21)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$425 | Tier B-$340 | Tier C-$255  | Tier D-$170
Limited to 8 participants

Attention kindergartners and first graders! This spring our Junior Discovery Days are becoming a series! Each week we will notice what’s happening in nature and explore specific topics. Examples of weekly topics are: Awesome Amphibians, Dandelion Day, and Oh My Dragonfly. Our morning includes snack time, story, a nature project and a game.

Homeschool I: Storytelling in the Forest 

Ages 6-8 or Grades 1-3
Limited to 10 participants.

with Monya Relles
Thursdays, 9:45am–12:45pm – Program full, wait list only
March 4–May 13 (no program April 22)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$563 | Tier B-$450 | Tier C-$338  | Tier D-$225

Homeschool I is back for a session all about story. While immersed in nature, we’ll tell stories and listen to stories; we’ll write stories and act them out. We’ll play storytelling games, read stories from many cultures, and even think about the ways we can use stories to solve problems like climate change. Free play, sit spots, running games, and journaling are all built into each day. Each day will start with a question of the day and there will be optional projects to do at home.

Art in the Forest Series – Spring

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 7–10 or Grades 2–4
Wednesdays, 10:00am–12:00pm
March 24 – June 9 (no class April 21)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$303  | Tier B-$242 | Tier C-$215  | Tier D-$121
Limited to 12 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 Spring we will welcome the world as it wakes up from Winter. We’ll paint budding flowers, make still life drawings, and sculpt with mud.  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.

Girls into the Wild Series

with Katie Koerten
Ages 8–11 or Grades 3–5
Thursdays, 3:30-5:30pm
March 25 – June 10  (no program April 22)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$344 | Tier B-$275 | Tier C-$206  | Tier D-$138

with Monya Relles
Thursdays, 3:30pm-5:30pm
March 25 – June 10  (no program April 22)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$344 | Tier B-$275 | Tier C-$206  | Tier D-$138
Limited to 12 participants

Girls into the Wild continues in spring 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. Come build your confidence and show your wild side! 

April Vacation Days

Jumping Mice (Grades K-1) with Katie ; Limit 10 – Program full, wait list only
Brown Bats (Grades 2-3) with Monya; Limit 12 – Program full, wait list only
Groundhogs (Grades 4-5) with Aemelia; Limit 12 
April 19-23, 10am-2pm

Fee per Child per day: Tier A-$55  | Tier B-$44 | Tier C-$33  | Tier D-$22
Fee per Child per Week: Tier A-$275  | Tier B-$220 | Tier C-$165  | Tier D-$110
*We strongly encourage signing the Jumping Mice age group up for all five days.  This will help group cohesion.*

Welcome Spring with our all-outdoor April Vacation Week. In order to maintain our policies of safety and care during this week, we will continue to offer outdoor only programs in lieu of our typical camp schedule.  This Spring the Hitchcock Center is involving a wider range of our valley in order to get kids outdoors and learning about the wonderful place we live. Each day we will offer a four hour program, running 10am-2pm, with a Hitchcock educator.

Our Jumping Mice group will explore different locations in the forest and fields near the Hitchcock Center.  Brown Bats and the Groundhogs will be at the Hitchcock Center and visiting some of our beloved nearby outdoor spaces. There will be two days where pick up and drop off will be somewhere other than the Hitchcock Center. Examples of places we might explore and play will be: the Horse Caves, Groff Park, The Hampshire College Woods, Amethyst Brook, and Buffam Falls.  Sign up for one day, two days, or them all!

Second Saturday Science Walks 

Ages ages 5–7 and Grades  K–1
Limited to 12 participants.
Children must be accompanied by an adult. Limit of 3 children per adult.

with Aemelia Thompson
Second Saturdays, 10:00–10:45am
Spring: April 10, May 8, June 12
Suggested donation of $5-12 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. Registration is required.

Spring
April 10: Backbones Not Required – Program full, wait list only
May 8: Bloodsuckers in your Backyard
June 12: Slime Time

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

Games in Nature Afterschool

Ages 9–11 or Grades 4–5
with Monya Relles
Mondays, March 22 – June 7 (no class April 19 or May 31)
Tier A-$275 | Tier B-$220 | Tier C-$165 | Tier D-$110

-OR-

with Aemelia Thompson
Tuesdays, 3:30pm-5:30pm
March 23- June 8 (no class April 20)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$303 | Tier B-$242 | Tier C-$182  | Tier D-$121

Limited to 12 participants 

Hitchcock’s Nature Play Afterschool Program is designed to let kids be kids. Each week the group will spend time together beginning with games and move into nature play and free game building. Our Spring game days will begin with group games but a good part of the program will allow for exploring the world as it wakes from Winter. We’ll explore the wooded trails, get dirty, build forts, and play free in the woods. 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. Our instructors provide a safe setting for children to explore nature and encourage children to stretch their limits.

Art in the Forest Series

with Aemelia Thompson
Ages 7–10 or Grades 2–4
Wednesdays, 10:00am–12:00pm
March 24 – June 9 (no class April 21)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$303  | Tier B-$242 | Tier C-$215  | Tier D-$121
Limited to 12 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 Spring we will welcome the world as it wakes up from Winter. We’ll paint budding flowers, make still life drawings, and sculpt with mud.  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.

Homeschool II: Outdoor Skills and Exploration Series 

Ages 9–11 or Grades 4–6
Limited to 10 participants.

with Jeff Mazur
Tuesdays, 9:30am–12:30 pm
March 2–May 11 (no program April 20)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$563 | Tier B-$450 | Tier C-$338  | Tier D-$225

OR

with Jeff Mazur
Thursdays, 9:30am–12:30pm
March 4–May 13, (no program April 22)
Fee per Child: Tier A-$563 | Tier B-$450 | Tier C-$338  | Tier D-$225

During this series, we will build our wilderness skills as we overcome challenges together. In our own survival story, we will need to develop skills to help us to survive, such as orienteering, fire building, shelter making, plant identification, and tracking. This class will also have time built in for free play, journal time and organized games. More than half of our sessions will require drop off and pick up at other locations within 20 minutes of the Hitchcock Center.

April Vacation Days

Jumping Mice (Grades K-1) with Katie ; Limit 10
Brown Bats (Grades 2-3) with Monya; Limit 12
Groundhogs (Grades 4-5) with Aemelia; Limit 12 (budget 70% covers costs and smaller size young group)
April 19-23, 10am-2pm

Fee per Child per day: Tier A-$55  | Tier B-$44 | Tier C-$33  | Tier D-$22
Fee per Child per Week: Tier A-$275  | Tier B-$220 | Tier C-$165  | Tier D-$110
*We strongly encourage signing the Jumping Mice age group up for all five days.  This will help group cohesion.*

Welcome Spring with our all-outdoor April Vacation Week. In order to maintain our policies of safety and care during this week, we will continue to offer outdoor only programs in lieu of our typical camp schedule.  This Spring the Hitchcock Center is involving a wider range of our valley in order to get kids outdoors and learning about the wonderful place we live. Each day we will offer a four hour program, running 10am-2pm, with a Hitchcock educator.

Our Jumping Mice group will explore different locations in the forest and fields near the Hitchcock Center.  Brown Bats and the Groundhogs will be at the Hitchcock Center and visiting some of our beloved nearby outdoor spaces. There will be two days where pick up and drop off will be somewhere other than the Hitchcock Center. Examples of places we might explore and play will be: the Horse Caves, Groff Park, The Hampshire College Woods, Amethyst Brook, and Buffam Falls.  Sign up for one day, two days, or them all!

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

Second Saturday Science Walks

Ages ages 5–7 and Grades  K–1
Limited to 12 participants.
Children must be accompanied by an adult. Limit of 3 children per adult.

with Aemelia Thompson
Second Saturdays, 10:00–10:45am
April 10, May 8, June 12
Suggested donation of $5-12 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. Registration is required.

Spring
April 10: Backbones Not Required
May 8: Bloodsuckers in your Backyard
June 12: Slime Time

Nature Discovery Preschool Adventures 

Ages 3–5 or Grades Pre-K
Limited to 12 participants (limit of 2 children per adult).

with Colleen Kelley
Fridays, 10:00–11:30am OR 1:00–2:30pm
Spring: March 19, March 26, April 2, 9, 16, 30, May 7, 14, 21, 28, June 4, 11, 18

OR

with Helen Ann Sephton
Fridays, 10:00–11:30am OR 1:00–2:30pm
Spring: March 19, March 26, April 2, 9, 16, 30, May 7, 14, 21, 28, June 4, 11, 18

Fee per Child: Tier A-$17 per day | Tier B-$13 per day | Tier C-$9 per day | Tier D- $7
Fee per Adult: Tier A-$21 per day | Tier B-$17 per day | Tier C-$13 per day | Tier D- $9

Come explore the wonders of winter! This award-winning adult and child preschool program offers weekly outdoor exploration together combined with multi-modal learning experiences to foster wonder and curiosity about the natural world. Each program includes movement, song, nature exploration, snacktime, and a story. Sign up for one or more days and choose from one of two time offerings, Friday mornings or afternoons. An adult caregiver must attend with child(ren).

Spring Sessions
March 19: Water Wonders
March 26: Vernal Pool Discoveries
April 2: Mud Magic
April 9: Signs of Spring
April 16: Chipmunk Song
April 30: Turtle Time
May 7: Bud Babies
May 14: Camouflage Fun
May 21: Nest Builders
May 28: Flower Fun
June 4: Colors in Nature
June 11: Roxaboxen
June 18: Roly-poly-ology

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)

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 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