Homeschool Programs

Homeschool families have several options for using Ijams Nature Center as an outdoor classroom. Whether you decide to come explore on your own, lead your group with one of our backpacks, or participate in our Ijams Homeschool Academy, Ijams has something for everyone!

Ijams Homeschool Ed-Ventures

These field-based programs are designed to help students gain a deeper understanding of the natural world through fun and hands-on experiences! Programs are led by a talented team of Ijams Naturalists and volunteers, and offers programs for ages 3 and up!

Nature Ed-Ventures is our basic course of 8 hands-on workshops, divided into 2 semesters, each with 4 sessions. Students will stay with their age group for the entire year. For example, if a child turns 10 in January, he/she will stay in the Elementary group until the next year. This helps us keep our enrollment consistent.

2018-2019 School Year

Fall Semester

  • Wednesday, August 22
  • Wednesday, September 26
  • Wednesday, October 24
  • Wednesday, November 28

Spring Semester

  • Wednesday, February 20
  • Wednesday, March 27
  • Wednesday, April 24
  • Wednesday, May 22

Preschool: Ages 3-5* (10:00 am – 11:00 am)

Preschool students will spend the year exploring nature through hands-on sensory activities. Children well get to use their 5 senses as they become more connected with the world around them.

Fall Semester

  • August: Sweet or Stinky?
  • September: Sounds all Around
  • October: Owl Eyes
  • November: Soft or Scratchy?

Spring Semester

  • February: Who’s Been Here?
  • March: Signs of Spring
  • April: Hiding in Plain Sight
  • May: Seeing Nature Through Their Eyes

*Age as of August 15, 2018

Elementary: Ages 6-9* (10:00 am – 11:30 am)
Middle School: Ages 10-13* (10:00 am — 12:00 pm)

Elementary and Middle School students will become part of the Year of the Bird as they take a closer look at our feathered friends. The fall semester will focus on the characteristics of birds, adaptations, migration, and bird conservation. In the spring, students will become more familiar with plants as trees as they explore plant adaptations, photosynthesis, seed dispersal and invasive species.

Fall Semester: Year of the Bird

  • August: What is a Bird?
  • September: Flight & Feathers
  • October: Migration
  • November: Bird Conservation

Spring Semester: All About Plants

  • February: What is a Plant?
  • March: Making Energy
  • April: Seed Dispersal
  • May: Invasive Species & Conservation

*Age as of August 15, 2018

High School: Ages 14 and up* (10:00 am – 12:00 pm)

BRAND NEW to this year’s Homeschool Ed-ventures menu is a program designed for high-school-aged students who are ready to delve more deeply into their studies of the natural world. Following in the footsteps of H.P. Ijams, students will be guided through the exciting process of designing and conducting field investigations of the birds and/or plants in the local environment. Each month, students will be introduced to a different aspect the field investigation process. Their learning will culminate at the end of the school year with the opportunity develop their own hypothesis, collect scientific data, draw conclusions, write technical scientific research papers, and present their findings to a panel of local natural resource professionals, Ijams Staff and Volunteers, and other peers. Along the way, students will become familiar with different aspects of field biology, including identification of local flora and fauna, field guide and binocular use, field journaling, research techniques, and methods for presenting results. Above all, students will be filled with an appreciation and love for animals, nature, and our precious natural resources. And, they will leave our program inspired to take action, awakened to future science-related career paths, and empowered to make a difference within their community and the world.

How to Register: To better serve our homeschool families, we are now offering online registration through Active software. This will allow each family to register at any time, and ensures your child’s spot in our program. This software also allows participants to pay in installments.

Homeschool Extra Curricular Activities

For families interested in some extra field-based lessons, we have added fall extra curricular activities:

Creek Walk: Thursday, September 6 (10:00 am)

Journey through Toll Creek in search of aquatic insects, crayfish and salamanders.

Insects: Thursday, October 4 (10:00 am)

Grab a net and explore the meadows around the Visitor Center in search of six-legged creatures.

Creepy Crawlies: Thursday, November 1 (10:00 am)

We’ll expand our critter exploration beyond the world of insects as we search for spiders, millipedes, centipedes and more!

Extra Curricular activities are designed for ages 6 and up. No younger siblings are permitted to attend the Extra Curricular sessions. Please make alternate arrangements for kids under the age of 6.

Backpack Program

Homeschool groups are invited to take advantage of our backpack education program. These backpacks contain all the materials and instructions necessary to complete a variety of fun, hands-on outdoor learning activities. The fee to rent a backpack is $25, and each pack is outfitted with materials for up to 20 children.

We currently have 4 topics available: Birds, Geology, 5 Senses, and Plants. Each topic is designed for a specific age range, so be sure to ask which pack would be best for your group.

NOTE: Backpack rental must be arranged prior to your visit to ensure that you receive all the necessary materials. Please email us with your backpack request, including date, topic and the number of students so that we can prepare the backpack for your groups.

Self-guided Explorations

Ijams nature Center is free and open to the public for hikes and nature exploration. Homeschool families and/or small groups are welcome to come discover the outdoors during regular business hours. Because Ijams is an independent non-profit organization, we rely on program fees, donations, memberships, and grants to operate and maintain the wonderful 300-acre nature center. If you choose to explore Ijams on your own, please consider becoming a member, or making a donation. Those funds are the only way to ensure the Ijams Nature Center remains a beautiful and welcoming resource for years to come!