CNC’s preschool curriculum introduces young children to nature through enjoyable outdoor learning activities in a safe environment. Programs are “hands-on,” typically last one hour, and include both indoor and outdoor experiences. Preschoolers will spend time listening to a nature story read by a naturalist, go on a short hike to observe nature, make a nature craft to bring home, and when the subject is appropriate, meet a live animal!
Amazing Amphibians (Spring, Summer, Fall)– Learn about amphibians and their life cycles on a short hike to a pond. Meet and touch a live animal.
Animals in Winter (Winter)– Learn how animals prepare for a chilly winter and meet some live animals who adapt to the cold.
Bugs (Summer, Fall)- Take a short hike and explore bug life and habitats. Meet a creature that eats bugs for lunch!
Colors in Nature (Spring, Summer, Fall)- Discover how plants and animals use color in special ways and meet a live animal.
Creepin’ Crawlies (Spring, Summer, Fall)- Wiggle and crawl like a worm, learn where worms live, and hike outside to find worms.
Exploring Nature with Our Senses (Spring, Summer, Fall)- Use your senses to see, touch, hear, and smell the wonders of nature.
Feathered Friends (Spring, Summer, Fall)- Go “birding” to look for signs of bird activity, learn how to call to owls, and meet a live bird!
Hibernation (Fall, Winter)- Investigate for great hibernation hiding places, sing a song and meet a live hibernator.
Orchard Fun (Fall)- Walk through CNC’s apple orchard to learn how apples grow and taste some juicy, ripe apples!
Planting Party (Spring, Summer)- Learn how seeds turn into beautiful plants. Plant seeds to take home and watch them grow.
Rabbits (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter)- Meet a real live rabbit and watch how it moves and what it eats.
Tumble into Fall (Fall)- Find leaves of many colors and shapes, watch creatures prepare for winter, and meet a live animal!
Turtles (Spring, Summer, Fall)- Learn about the fascinating lives of turtles, and observe their amazing adaptations by meeting one.
Syruping (March Only)- Tap a tree and sample some home-made maple syrup!
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.
12805 St. Croix Trail S.
Hastings, MN 55033
300 East Cove Road
Hudson, WI 54016
Latest Nature News
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- Leave No Trace Principle 7: Be Considerate of Other VisitorsApril 26, 2020 - 9:00 am
- Leave No Trace Principle 6: Respect WildlifeApril 25, 2020 - 9:00 am
January 18 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
January 23 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
January 24 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm