Elementary & Middle School

Environmental Education at the Preserves

Branching Out With Trees

Students will broaden their knowledge about trees as they hike and learn to identify trees through distinguishing characteristics such as bark and leaf shape.
May-November
Grades K-8
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. State: 4A-B, 12A-F, 15C, 16E, 17A&C, 21A&B
Common Core: SL1&3

Prairie Patterns

Students will explore the plants, animals and history of the Illinois prairie as we hike through the forest preserve. Watch as we turn a student into a prairie animal!
June-November
Grades K-8
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. State: 4A&B, 12B, 16E, 17A-C, 21A
Common Core: SL1&3

Wetlands and Waterfowl

We will head to the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve and learn about the five fabulous functions of wetlands. Students will be introduced to the animal and plant life within the kettle marsh and waterfowl areas at Middle Fork.
July-October
Grades 3-8
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. State: 4A&B, 12B&E, 16E, 17A-C, 19C, 21A&B
Common Core: SL1&3

Aquatic Ecologist

Students will discuss how watersheds are related to water quality. Then they will test water quality using simple kits and compare results with the aquatic organisms they collect. Pre-trip review of vocabulary is essential for this program.
Mid-April - Mid-October
Grades 3-8
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. State: 4A&B, 5A, 11A, 12B&E, 13A&B, 17A-C, 21A&B, 22C
Common Core: RI1, SL1&3

Frog Follies

Explore the frog and toad life cycle. Have a hoppin' good time while singing in a frog chorus and turning a classmate into a frog.
Mid-April - Mid-October
Grades K-2
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. Standards: 4A&B, 12A&B, 21A
Common Core: SL1&3

Hatchet

This program is designed to complement Hatchet, a story of a young boy's adventure in the wilderness by Gary Paulsen. Students will interpret the book through hands-on activities, including basic survival skills. Program is available only at Homer Lake Forest Preserve.
Year-Round
Grades 4-6
Program Length: 2 hours
IL. State: 1B, 4A&B, 6B&C, 7A&B, 11A, 12B, 13A&B,
17C, 21A&B
Common Core: RI1, RL1&3, SL1&3

Sights and Sounds of Nature

Students will hike and explore the wonders of our natural world. Students will be engaged in a variety of hands-on discovery activities using their senses.
Year-Round
Grades K-6
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. State: 4A&B, 12A&B, 13A, 16E, 17B&C, 21A
Common Core: SL1&3

Remarkable Reptiles

Learn more about the anatomy and adaptations of these ancient creatures. Students get an opportunity to meet our resident reptiles.
April - October
Grades K-5
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. Standards: 4A&B, 12A&B, 16E, 21A
Common Core: SL1&3

Into Insects

Students have the opportunity to go searching for these six-legged creatures. Discover what makes an insect unique and where these creatures are hiding.
April - November
Grades K-5
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. Standards: 4A&B, 11A, 12A&B, 21A&B
Common Core: SL1&3

The Nature of Winter

Take a break from being indoors and gain a new appreciation for this surprisingly active time of year. Students will explore physical and behavioral adaptations that allow local flora and fauna to survive winter, and then hike to observe these firsthand.
December - March
Grades K-6
Program Length: 1-1.5 hours
IL. Standards: 4A&B, 11A, 12B, 13A, 17B&C, 21A&B
Common Core: SL1&3

Birds of a Feather

Students will learn basic bird identification and explore their amazing adaptations. Then we'll go on a hike to find birds living in the preserves.
Year-Round
Grades K-6
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. Standards: 4A&B, 11A, 12A&B, 16E, 19A-C, 21A
Common Core: SL1&3

Illinois Mammals

Learn about Illinois mammals and how the presence of wildlife has changed since Illinois was settled. We will transform a classmate into a mammal and then search for clues left behind by area mammals.
Year-Round
Grades K-8
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. Standards: 4A&B, 11A, 12A&B, 16E, 17C, 21A&B
Common Core: SL1&3

Naturalist in the Classroom

A member of the environmental education staff will visit your classroom and bring the flora and fauna indoors. Visits may be scheduled anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Presentation length varies from 30 minutes to an hour per classroom. Please choose from the previous list of field trips for possible programs.
Year-Round
Grades K-8
Program Length: Variable

Junior Winter Bird Feeding Challenge

In this exciting program, students will maintain bird feeders and make observations of birds at your school; then they send their data to the Illinois Audubon Society for compilation. Our educators will also visit your classroom three times, during November, January and February, to introduce the program and conduct activities about bird identification and adaptations. Bird feeders and bird seed are not provided. Space is limited; call for more information.
November-February
Grades 2-6
Program Length: Visits 1 & 2 are 45 minutes; visit 3 is 20 minutes.
IL. Standards: 4A&B, 11A, 12A&B
Common Core: SL1&3

Historical Education at the Museum of the Grand Prairie

Discovering Champaign County’s Lincoln

Before Lincoln became one of our country’s most revered and respected presidents, he was a simple country lawyer riding the Eighth Judicial Circuit through several Illinois counties, including Champaign. This program helps your students discover Lincoln’s connections to our community, where he worked, made friends, and built his political career.
Grades K-5
Program Length: 1 - 1.5 hours
IL. Standards: IL 14.B.1&2; C.1&2; D.1&2; 16.A.2a; A.1b&2b, 1c&2c; 16.B.1a&1b, 2c&2d; 16.C.2a; 16.D.1, 2b, 2c; 16.E.1

Life on the Grand Prairie

Through discussion, exhibits and hands-on activities, we will explore life in Central Illinois during the 1800s. Specific subject matter and activities are flexible to meet teacher needs and will be determined when you register.
Grades K-5
Program Length: 1.5-2 hours
IL. Standards: 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 27
Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4

People Moving Out, People Moving In

How did people get here? Where did they come from? How did they survive when they arrived? East Central Illinois was built by immigrants. You and your students will learn about the abundant richness of immigrant communities right in their own backyard from the 19th century to the Great Migration.
Grades 3 & up
Program Length: 1 hour
IL. Standards: 15, 16, 17, 18
Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4

First Illinoisans

Native Americans lived in Central Illinois for thousands of years before the Euro-Americans arrived. What was life like for these first Illinoisans. How have things changed. Through hands-on activities, students will learn some of the many life-ways of native peoples.
Grades 3-5
Program Length: 2 hours
IL. Standards: 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 27
Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4

School House, School Days

Were all teachers once mean and strict? Were all children polite? Find out in our old-time schoolhouse! Spend a morning or afternoon traveling back in history with one of our schoolmarms or masters. This program is available in early October and mid-April through May. This program does not include a museum tour.
Grades 2-5
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. Standards: 16, 17, 19, 21
Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4

Wagons Ho!

Pack your wagon because we’re heading west! Learn how to get to Oregon and find out what a skid, an heirloom and a tinderbox have in common. Wherever you are in your trek through the Oregon Trail unit, this program will spice it up.
Grades 4-5
Program Length: 2 hours
IL. Standards: 13, 16, 17
Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4

Illinois and the American Civil War

Although no major Civil War battles were fought in Illinois, the war had a huge impact on our region. Learn about the effect of the war in Illinois and what it was like to be a soldier; and enjoy a special surprise ending!
Grades 4-8
Program Length: 2 hours
IL. Standards: 13, 16, 17, 21, 27
Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4

Christmas Past

How did Germany influence Christmas in America? Has Santa Claus always looked the same? Dabble in the history of the season, and make a late 1800s-early 1900s ornament to take home.
Program Length: 1 hour
IL. Standards: 16, 27
Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4

Writing Historic Tales

Learn some secrets of writing historic fiction; then study museum artifacts and begin writing a story based on what you saw! In this program, a local children’s author teams up with our educators for storytelling and writing activities. Available dates are subject to author’s schedule. An additional author’s fee of $2-$4 is required. (This program is also available as an in-classroom activity).
Grades 3-8
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL. Standards: 16
Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4, SL6; and W1, W2, W3, W6, W7, W8

Kids as Curators

Discover what really goes on - behind the scenes - in our museum. Experience history through collecting, something we all do! Your class will design and put together a mini-exhibit from a collection of their choice which will be on display in the museum for several months. Contact the Museum of the Grand Prairie for more information.
IL. Standards: 16, 21 Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4

This History Is Yours: African American History in Champaign County

Events which occurred on the national scene are juxtaposed with local African American history to allow students to make local connections during their discussions of slavery, the Great Migration, and the Civil Rights era.
GRADES 2-8
Program Length: 1 hour
IL. Standards: 16
Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4

Remarkable Women of Champaign County

Do you know a woman who has changed the world? So do we. Join us as we talk about the contributions women have made to our community and our county in this one-of-a-kind school program.
GRADES 2-8
Program Length: 1 hour
IL. Standards: 16
Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4

Featured Program

Through December 2015 students will have the added benefit of touring this year’s special exhibit at the Museum of the Grand Prairie: Hidden Underfoot: Historical Archaeology in Illinois as part of their field trip. In Spring 2016, both the Museum of the Grand Prairie and the Homer Lake Interpretive Center will feature exhibits on our most precious resource, water, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition, Water/Ways, on view July 16-August 28, 2016.

We Dig Archaeology!

Archaeologists are scientists who study how people lived in the past. By looking at the kinds of garbage people left behind, archaeologists can use scientific methods to understand what past peoples ate, what they created, when they lived, and how they celebrated. As we explore our temporary exhibit featuring historical archaeology in Illinois, we will combine artifacts, documents like maps and letters, and lots of hands-on activities to understand how people in the past lived, worked, and played!
GRADES 2-6
Program Length: 1.25 HOURS
Common Core: SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4

Plant Science Programs at the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Garden

Seed Safari

Students will explore plant life cycles and plant diversity, and experience the Botanical Garden through games, drama and a hands-on activity.
Year-Round
Grades K-2
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL Standards: 4A, 11A, 12A&B, 17B
Common Core: SL1&3

Botany Basics

Explore the world of botany. Learn why plants are important and study their diverse structures and adaptations. Students will participate in a learning activities followed by a planting activity.
Year-Round
Grades 3-5
Program Length: 1.5 hours
IL Standards: 4A, 11A, 12A&B, 17B
Common Core: SL1&3

Soil Science

Students will learn about the importance of decomposers, such as bacteria, fungi and worms. Soil types will be investigated, and then students will plant seeds in gardening soil they have mixed to take home and grow.
Year-Round
Grades 1-5
Program Length: 1 hour
IL Standards: 4A, 11A, 12A&B, 17B
Common Core: SL1&3

Barking Up The Right Tree

Middle School students will learn simple characteristics of several trees and other plants commonly found in east central Illinois, and then be able to identify many of these important organisms. This program is designed to help teachers introduce the importance of diversity of organisms in their plant curriculum.
Year-Round
Grades 6-8
Program Length: 1.5 hours.
IL Standards: 12B
Common Core: SL1