Elementary School Groups
Carpenter’s professional staff conducts quality environmental education programs for more than 10,000 students and their teachers annually. Each program is designed to supplement classroom studies through hands-on learning in the “outdoor classroom.” A small student to naturalist staff ratio (20:1) allows for greater individual learning and enhances the experience for students.
All environmental education program curriculum at CNC is written to be age appropriate and to enhance science studies. Input from teachers and education specialists are a valuable tool in developing programs. Every program is designed to meet Minnesota and Wisconsin Academic Standards. Class outlines are available upon request for every program.
Kindergarten & 1st Grade 1.25 – 1.5 hour programs
Apple Orchard– Learn parts of an apple tree and observe animals in the orchard. Pick apples and make cider. Optional visit to the pumpkin patch for an additional fee.
Change of Seasons– Discover seasonal changes and visit live animals that hibernate, migrate, or stay active.
Flowers & Pollination– Learn about plant reproduction by role playing in and active game. Examine real pollinators visiting flowers on a hike by the gardens.
Plant Communities– Explore plant diversity in three different communities—a grassland; a pine forest; & a deciduous forest.
Winter Birds– Identify six year round birds through a winter hike and dissect owl pellets to solve a mystery.
Winterfest– Play native American games while celebrating winter. Warm up with a story and hot cocoa.
2nd & 3rd Grade 1.5 – 2 hour programs
Adaptations– Through hands-on activities and live animals, students learn about plant and animal adaptations for survival.
Birds & Banding– Go on a bird hike with binoculars and field guides and see birds up close during an introduction to the scientific process of bird banding.
Food Chains– Study the energy flow in food chains by finding clues in nature, developing food chains, and presenting findings.
Insects– By using nets and jars, students collect and identify classes of insects while looking at life cycles, metamorphosis, and diversity.
Reptiles & Amphibians– Become herpetologists as we study the differences and similarities of reptiles and amphibians in live animals. This is an indoor program.
Rocks & Minerals– Examine the difference between rocks and minerals through hands-on investigation. Learn about the rock cycle and formation.
Snow & Ice Study– Students learn scientific processes of hypotheses, experiment, and analyze results by testing properties of water, insulation, snow, and temperature.
Trees– Discuss the importance of trees, identify common deciduous and evergreen trees, and explore the life cycle of a tree.
4th, 5th, & 6th Grade 1.75 – 2 hour programs
Geology– Observe examples of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. Participate in a “timeline of the earth” and a “rock investigation.”
Invertebrates– Learn about animal classification by catching arthropods, annelids and mollusks.
Map & Compass– Take part in the sport of orienteering by learning how to use a compass, read a map & combine the skills to compete on a timed orienteering course.
Maple Syruping– Help CNC make maple syrup by identifying, tapping & collecting sap from a maple tree. Observe the boiling process & taste pure maple syrup.
Plants & People– Explore human/plant interactions by visiting the restored prairie, apple orchard & seeing plant products.
Snowshoeing– After a snowshoe demonstration, strap on a pair and go for a guided winter ecology hike. Students must wear boots.
Water Erosion– Discover what erosion is, what causes it and ways to prevent it through hands-on experimentation & games.
Water Quality– Use monitoring equipment to test CNC’s wetland or the St. Croix River. Compare results to determine overall conclusions. Dress to get wet feet.
Weather– Use meteorology equipment to analyze current weather conditions & make a forecast.
Wetlands– Explore the diversity of life, human impact, and adaptations present in the wetland habitat. Dress to get wet & muddy.
Wilderness Survival– Discuss human survival needs, & work in teams to cooperate, and to make a signal, fire, & shelter to survive.
For non-school groups, $5.00 per child and for school groups, $4.00 per student for 1st visit, $3.00 per student for 2nd visit or more (within school year); $50.00 per program minimum; $5.00 per adult chaperone above 5:1 student/chaperone ratio. Free for certified teachers and PCAs.
Group sizes should be at least 10 participants. Usually maximum group size is 60, please call to discuss options for larger groups. Given enough time in advance we can arrange classes for larger groups.
CNC welcomes all participants regardless of abilities. Please inform CNC if there will be a participant with limited mobility when scheduling so that we may make appropriate accommodations.
The staff at CNC is First Aid and CPR certified and is trained to respond to emergencies. However, participants must bring their own medication if necessary.
CNC staff are prepared to deal with most discipline situations, but may ask for the teacher’s assistance if problems arise.
Accommodations for the Weather
The majority of programs take place outside. It is essential that leaders properly prepare participants to dress for the weather and to get dirty. CNC staff are prepared to go out in any weather. It is the leader’s responsibility to cancel or reschedule if participants aren’t prepared.
Deposits and Cancellations
A $50 deposit (credited to your program cost) is required to reserve a program. If CNC does not receive it in a timely fashion, we reserve the right to schedule another group in the time slot. If groups fail to give CNC a two-week advance notice of cancellation the deposit will not be refunded.
Reservations for each season will be taken after the following dates:
School Year: August 1st for school groups or September 1st for non-school groups
Summer: January 1st
Teachers, please read the information below to help your class prepare for their visit to Carpenter Nature Center. Please feel free to contact the nature center if you have any additional questions.
Entrances and Drop-Off
There are two entrances to the Nature Center: the north entrance and the main/south entrance. The north entrance provides access to the Trailside Lodge. The main entrance provides access to the Visitor Center, the Interpretive Center, and the Administration Building. Please enter in the main entrance unless otherwise noted. Unless informed otherwise, all buses should pull into the main entrance and drop students off either at the Interpretive Center or the Visitor Center. If the bus will be staying during the program, we please ask that they park in the main parking lot. Occasionally, buses will need to collect students at different locations. In these cases, staff will inform the leader(s) and driver(s) at the beginning of the program.
If your students aren’t properly dressed for the weather or if the weather is inclement the day of your visit, we ask that you please call ahead if you wish to reschedule your visit. If this occurs at the end of the school year there may not be days available to reschedule. Since our classroom is the out-of-doors our staff is prepared to go out in any weather conditions, so it is your responsibility to inform Carpenter Nature Center if you feel your students are not prepared well enough for the weather. If your group is already at the Nature Center when severe weather occurs, staff will take the necessary precautions to ensure students’ safety.
To ensure that participants are comfortable, safe, and enjoying themselves, please have
them properly dressed for the weather. For all seasons, they must have close-toed footwear that is secure to the foot. In the late spring and early fall, we recommend long, lightweight pants due to the possibility of ticks and poison ivy. In the early spring and late fall, this means a sweatshirt or light jacket (layers), and possibly a rain coat. In the winter, this means insulated boots with a good tread, a warm pair of socks, a winter coat, insulated pants or long underwear, a hat that covers the ears, a scarf, and mittens or insulated gloves. Children (and leaders/chaperones!) should not wear new or special clothing that they would not wish to get dirty.
Since you will be at a nature center, we ask that you remind your students to please respect nature. Please inform your students not to collect materials unless otherwise given permission. Please ask your students to move slowly and quietly around the Nature Center’s captive animals and to keep their fingers out of the cages.
Since your students will be learning in nature, they may invite some ticks home with them. Please remind your students and their parents to perform a “tick check” when they get home. To prevent ticks, long pants are encouraged, unless it is too hot outside.
If you have any students that have limited mobility or special needs, please contact the Nature Center before your visit so that we can best tailor to your students’ needs. We can provide a wheelchair, a wagon, or a pulk (for winter use) if needed.
Group Leaders and Chaperones
We recommend, although not required, a student/adult ratio of 20:1 for a school group. For a pre-school group, we recommend at least one adult per ten students. One adult for every five students will be allowed free of charge. If there are more adults (including parent chaperones) than 1:5, additional fees will apply. If it is a parent/child program, the fee is $5/child and $3/adult. During the program our staff may ask group leaders to divide your students into smaller field groups for a better field experience. Please mix sexes and separate those individuals who may be able to focus better if not in the same group. Feel free to call ahead of time if you would like to know how many field groups will be needed. Please inform parents/chaperones to lead by example, encouraging and supporting your students, and to refrain from coaching them (whispering the answer into their ear) and doing the work for them. Also, please try to limit conversations
amongst other adults during the program. This is not only distracting to the naturalist, as well as the students, but also shows them that it is acceptable to talk to each other and not pay attention.
If your class chooses to eat lunch with us, you should know that we are striving for a “waste-free” lunch system. To be a Zero-Waste Center, we need to prevent waste, reuse products, and utilize recycling and composting as much as possible. At the Nature Center, we provide containers for trash, recyclables, and compostable items. Please encourage your students to pack a Zero-Waste lunch at home.
Parents, please read the information below to help your child prepare for their visit to Carpenter Nature Center.
Proper clothing starts at home; please make sure that your child is dressed for the weather. For all seasons, they must have close-toed footwear that is secured to the foot. In the late spring and early fall, this means boots or tennis shoes with good tread and support. Long, lightweight pants are recommended due to the possibility of ticks and poison ivy. In the early spring and late fall, this means an additional sweatshirt or light jacket (layers), and possibly a rain coat. In the winter, this means insulated boots with a good tread, a warm pairs of socks, a winter coat, insulated pants or long underwear, a hat that covers the ears, a scarf, and mittens or insulated gloves.
In general, waterproof outerwear should be worn on rainy/drizzly days. Windbreakers should be worn for chilly, windy days. Always leave “Sunday bests” at home. Children (and leaders/chaperones!) should not wear new or special clothing that they would not wish to get dirty.
Being properly dressed ensures that participants are comfortable, safe, and enjoying themselves.
Please have your child dressed for the weather. If the weather is inclement the day of your child’s visit, it is the teacher’s responsibility to call the Nature Center and cancel the visit. If your child is already at the Nature Center when severe weather occurs, staff will take the necessary precautions to ensure your child’s safety.
Anytime you are outside there is a chance you may encounter ticks. Please remind your child to perform a “tick check” when they arrive back home in case they have invited any ticks to go home with them. To prevent ticks, long pants are encouraged, unless it is too hot outside.
If you are a group leader/chaperone, we please ask that you lead by example, encouraging and supporting your child, and refraining from coaching them (whispering the answer into their ear). Many of the naturalist’s questions are meant to challenge the children and immediate answers are not always expected. Also, please try to limit conversations amongst other adults during the program. This is not only distracting to the naturalist, as well as the children, but also shows them that it is acceptable to talk to each other and not pay attention.
If your child’s class chooses to eat lunch at the Nature Center, you should know that we are striving for a “waste-free” lunch system. To be a Zero-Waste Center, we need to prevent waste, reuse products, and utilize recycling and composting as much as possible. At the Nature Center, we provide containers for trash, recyclables, and compostable items. Please encourage and help your child to pack a Zero-Waste Lunch at home. Also, inform them on the importance of packing a Zero-Waste Lunch. Thank you for helping us to reduce our impact on the environment.
A Look at a Waste-Free Lunch
- Sandwiches and other main dishes, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and treats in a reusable container
- Cloth napkins
- Stainless-steel forks and spoons (or reusable plastic ones)
- Reusable drink containers, reusable lunchboxes (or save and reuse paper ones)
- If plastic bags are used, they can often be washed out with soapy water and reused
- Food products that have very little waste and minimal packaging
For more information, and to book a program, please contact the Program Director Mayme Johnson or call the Nature Center at (651) 437-4359.