Educator Resources

The Champaign County Forest Preserve District has so much more to offer you. We provide a variety of resources for community groups, scouts, and families. You can borrow an educational artifact or a fishing pole, depending on your need! We have traveling discovery kits and loan boxes, videos and GPS units, backpacks and resource binders all for you to use. Some items can be used in the Museum of the Grand Prairie or at the Homer Lake Interpretive Center, others can be taken home for a small fee or deposit. Consult each description for details.

To reserve any of our loan materials, call or email the location at which they are housed as listed in the description.

Homer Lake Interpretive Center

Stacey Clementz: (217) 896-2455, sclementz@ccfpd.org

Museum of the Grand Prairie

Susan Voskuil: (217) 586-2612, svoskuil@ccfpd.org

Natural History Loan Materials

IDNR Field Trip Pack

Homer Lake Interpretive Center, Homer Lake
Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

The Field Trip Pack includes many items to assist your children as they explore nature. Hands on equipment includes field guides, dip nets, compasses, trowels, and a whole lot more which will encourage self-initiated learning. This backpack is appropriate for ages 3 and up.

$15 refundable deposit required.

IDNR People and Animals from Illinois’ Past Loan Box

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

Prehistoric mammals, extirpated mammals, and Native Americans and their relationship with nature are all topics you can teach about by using the items in this resource trunk. Targeted grades are PreK-6. Contents include: mammoth and mastodon tooth replicas, species replicas, Native American games, activities, mammoth hair, posters, replica pottery, video, reference books, and natural items used by Native Americans.

$50 refundable deposit required.

IDNR Illinois Access to Fishing — Fishing Pole Loans

Homer Lake Interpretive Center, Homer Lake

Borrow a rod and reel from the Homer Lake Interpretive Center for FREE! Tackle packets are yours to keep. Poles can be borrowed any day the Interpretive Center is open and must be returned before closing time. Each loan requires the deposit of a current driver’s license or state ID. Ages 17 and up must also show a valid fishing license at the time of check-out; kids age 16 and under are not required to have a fishing license.

IDNR Illinois Amphibians and Reptiles Field Pack

Homer Lake Interpretive Center, Homer Lake

Amphibians and reptiles are fascinating creatures! This pack has been developed to help you learn about and observe these animals in their natural environment. Binoculars, magnifying glasses, field guides, observation equipment, a headlamp, frog call recordings, and many other hands-on items are included in the pack.

$15 refundable deposit required.

Insect Backpacks

Homer Lake Interpretive Center, Homer Lake

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods, District Headquarters, Lake of the Woods (contact Museum) Do you want to look for insects but don’t know how or don’t have the tools? Come out to the forest preserves and borrow an Insect Backpack! Each backpack contains a how-to guide, insect nets, bug boxes, insect guides, and much more. This backpack is appropriate for all ages.

$15 refundable deposit required.

Discovery Backpacks

Homer Lake Interpretive Center, Homer Lake

Discovery Backpacks will provide you with assistance on the trails. Each pack contains activities to complete along the trail as well as educational equipment (binoculars, pond dipping tools, identification books, magnifiers, and more!) This backpack is appropriate for all ages.

$75 refundable deposit required.

Water Quality Loan Box

Homer Lake Interpretive Center, Homer Lake

Explore the health and life of our local waters. This box contains equipment to test and measure the temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and nitrogen of the water. Also included are pond dipping nets to investigate the macroinvertebrates of the water, and a binder with indoor and outdoor activities. This loan box is appropriate for ages 10 to adults.

$10 fee plus a $15 refundable deposit required.

Aquatic Invasive Species Loan Box

Homer Lake Interpretive Center, Homer Lake

The Champaign County Forest Preserve District with assistance from the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant developed this loan box to make learning about aquatic invasives more hands-on and interactive. The box contains aquatic invasive specimens, activities, and information on Illinois invasive species. This loan box is appropriate for ages 12 to adults. $15 refundable deposit required. CCAS Bird Adaptation Loan Box Homer Lake Interpretive Center, Homer Lake Birds have different types of beaks, eggs, and feet to adapt to their unique lifestyles. Our Champaign County Audubon Society loan kit includes replicas of bird skulls, eggs, and tracks, as well as hands-on activities. This loan box is appropriate for 6 years olds and up.

$25 refundable deposit required.

GPS Units

Homer Lake Interpretive Center, Homer Lake

GPS units are available to enhance your hiking experience as you search for geocaches; track the distance, speed, and route of your hike; or learn about unique locations at Homer Lake. Staff is available at the Interpretive Center to provide a simple tutorial that will have you out hiking in no time! Borrowing a GPS unit is FREE; a valid credit card or personal check is required.

Create Your Own Kit

Homer Lake Interpretive Center, Homer Lake

The Homer Lake Interpretive Center has a large inventory of hands-on natural history items. We can work with you to create a kit of selected items for your specific needs.

Cultural History Loan Materials

Gone for a Soldier

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

This kit includes some of the personal belongings of a Union soldier in the Civil War, excerpts from letters of Champaign County soldiers, and our Champaign County During the Civil War and Champaign County’s Lincoln DVDs.

$50 refundable deposit required.

The Illinois Country

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

In this traveling discovery kit, students we explore the Illinois Country fur trade. This kit includes literature about the interactions between the French and Native Americans in the 18th century, along with actual furs, reproductions of trade goods, and suggested activities.

$50 refundable deposit required.

History from the Heart

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

This outreach kit is based on the publication of the Illinois Quilt Research Project, History from the Heart: Quilt Paths Across Illinois. It includes a copy of the book, study questions, suggested activities, quilt blocks, and story books.

$50 refundable deposit required.

Illiniwek Discovery Kit

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

Touch a brain tanned hide and a bison bone, learn what wampum is, and more! This Discovery Kit focuses on the history and culture of Native Americans who once lived throughout Central Illinois. Information on the Kaskaskia, Peoria, Cahokia, Mascouten, and other members of the Illiniwek Confederation from 1650 to 1800 is included, along with complete lesson plans, maps, a variety of hands-on materials, and Illiniwek languages tapes.

$50 refundable deposit required.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

Use a stereoscope! Make a phantasmascope! Learn to distinguish between a daguerreotype and a cabinet card. Hands-on reproductions of different types of photographs as well as persistence of motion devices are included. Storybooks and activities included.

$50 refundable deposit required.

The 1950’s Kit

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

Specifically developed for middle and high school use, this kit is about life in Champaign County in the 1950’s is packaged in an authentic Civil Defense barrel! It contains men’s and women’s clothing from the era: fedoras, gloves, and even nylons. Also included are a high school yearbook, popular magazines and books, and DVD/CDs with clips of popular music and early television shows.

$50 refundable deposit required.

The African-American Kit

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

Learn about local African-American men and women from Champaign County in this unique discovery kit. Primary documents, including census records and Civil War pension records, illustrate the life of an early resident of Champaign County. Intended for middle and high school use. Developed in cooperation with the UI Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

$50 refundable deposit required.

Create Your Own Kit

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

The Museum of the Grand Prairie has a large inventory of hands-on historically accurate replicas representing many eras, occupations and lifestyles. We can work with you to create a kit of selected items for your specific needs.

Publications

Challenges, Choices, & Changes for Champaign County

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

This handbook covers local history from 1850 to 1870. Sections on general county history, the railroad, African-American history, political campaigns, and Champaign County’s involvement in the Civil War are all part of the binder. Although these materials are geared toward secondary students, teachers of younger students will likely find portions of them useful.

Champaign County’s Lincoln – Instructional DVD

Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods

A 30-minute DVD detailing the legal career, political life, and social connections Abraham Lincoln had in Champaign County, produced by the Museum of the Grand Prairie in 2008 with funds from the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Created in four segments, it can be used in its entirety or in parts as desired for instructional purpose. A limited number of DVDs are available, free of charge, upon request.

Self-Guided Trail Brochures

Be your own guide! We invite you to explore nature at your convenience with a new series of brochures that will help you experience some of our preserves’ most popular trails. These brochures include detailed trail maps, photos, and information about the flora and fauna that await you on the trail!

Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve: 

Homer Lake Forest Preserve:

Pre- and Post-Field Trip Information