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The Butterfly House is open Wednesday through Sunday 11am-4pm weather permitting. For inclement weather please call ahead. The Butterfly House is closed Monday & Tuesday and will remain closed after October 1st.

Homeschool Topics

Animal Tracks and Tales: Learn how to investigate the lives of animals through the signs they leave behind. Study basic track identification through puzzles, games, and a nature hike for local animal species.

Apple Cider Making: Investigate simple machines and the differences in plant parts, as your homeschoolers use an old-fashioned screw press to make and sample fresh apple cider. In the process, they learn about the history of the cider making from colonial times to the present.

Bird is the Word: Learn what makes a bird unlike any other animal. Through activities, games, and a visit with a live bird, groups will learn what attributes birds share with other animals and which adaptations set them apart from the rest of the Animal Kingdom. Homeschoolers will see and touch artifacts before they go outdoors to search for our resident species.

Endangered NJ: Learn about the many factors that threaten animals with endangerment or extinction worldwide. Using artifacts and live animals, homeschoolers will learn how to distinguish between these classifications. Activities are designed to help students understand a little more about NJ’s over 60 endangered species, and learn how they can help prevent the threats to local wildlife. 

Forest Ecology: Explore the local forest to learn about the ecology of the plants and animals that live here. Learning to deduce the history of a woodland by “reading the landscape”, students uncover some of the differences between deciduous and coniferous forests by field-testing forest plots, studying the flora and fauna, and making field observations. Homeschoolers will discover the cultural and natural history of plants, particularly trees, as we examine a tree’s life  stages, following its growth from seed to maturity, finally, to decomposition.  

Geology of the Palisades: Discover how the Palisades were formed, where its rocks and fossils come from, and what they can tell us. Homeschoolers will learn to identify some household products that come from rocks and minerals, and will practice identifying common NJ rocks found at TNC.  We will discuss examples of erosion and deposition caused by the forces of nature and will reinforce concepts of glaciations, soil formation and landforms.

Group Challenges: Through problem-solving challenges and cooperative work, this program will help your homeschoolers recognize their strengths and practice their listening skills. Using their physical and mental abilities, students will learn how to communicate effectively with each other and cultivate supportive skills.

Have to Have a Habitat: Discover what animals, plants, and people need to survive and what makes a habitat a “home”. Venturing into the forest, your homeschoolers will investigate wildlife homes and diets, and learn to identify signs of various species and how an assortment of factors control wildlife populations.

Heavenly Herps: “Herps” (reptiles and amphibians) are among the most under-appreciated and misunderstood species of the animal world. This program will introduce students to live snakes, frogs, salamanders and turtles and highlight the characteristics which distinguish between reptiles and amphibians.

Insect Safari: Examine live insects in an introduction to the vast array of insect life. Homeschoolers will be taught where to find insects outside and how to identify them. By observing life stages and adaptations, homeschoolers will learn to identify different insects in a variety of aquatic and terrestrial habitats.

It’s a Spore World: Students learn why algae, lichen, moss, and fungi are important as they explore the differences between flowering plants and non-flowering organisms. Your group will explore how these non-flowering, plant-like organisms reproduce, discover their roles in succession and decomposition and investigate examples of symbiotic relationships.

It's a Worms World (decomposing and composting): A worm's work is never done, even if there are over 2700 different species of them! Explore the underground world of these beneficial creatures and learn about other remarkable creatures that keep our environment clean and healthy.

Leaf Shapes: Get an up-close look at all the colors and patterns nature has to offer.  We’ll review an assortment of leaf shapes and discover ways to identify some of NJ’s common trees, during a walk through the woods.

Lenni Lenape: Students learn how early Native Americans utilized the natural resources in New Jersey. Your group will journey into the past, listening to a Lenape story, learning to play classic Lenape games of skill, examining wild edibles and medicines, and learning how Lenape's used the animals they hunted.

Map & Compass: Students learn the different parts of a compass, and how to use it to locate directions. Homeschoolers will apply this knowledge outdoors on the trails as they learn all about orienteering, map reading different kinds of maps, and wayfinding techniques.

Maple Sugaring: Learn about the history of maple sugaring in North America by observing a TNC educator tap our Sugar Maple trees. (We encourage sap tasting, if enough has been collected.)  We demonstrate Native American and colonial syrup-making techniques outdoors. We challenge participants to try to distinguish between corn syrup and the real thing by taste alone.  This program is only offered in late February through early March.

Oogling Owls: Learn how these nocturnal raptors have adapted to night flight, by observing our live resident owl. Your group will learn about NJ’s owls’ status by discussing the pros and cons of human interactions with these powerful and efficient predators.

Outdoor Survival: If your homeschoolers were lost in the woods, would they know what to do? We will teach them to prepare for survival outdoors, using the “rules of three”. Participants will have to cooperate and exercise group skills to construct a survival shelter.

Pond Ecology: Using a variety of tools (dip nets, magnifiers, etc.), homeschoolers will discover aquatic ecosystems and food chains participating in hands-on pond exploration. They will study diversity, adaptations and interrelationships among the organisms they find in the water, and will discuss how human activity impacts aquatic habitats.

Rapp’n with Raptors: Observe several live raptors up close and learn about their behavior, physiology, adaptations, ecological importance and natural history. Hands-on artifacts and demonstrations will capture the imagination of young and old.

Seasonal Discovery: Explore the wonders each season brings to the forest. On a walk along the trails, your group will learn to observe and record seasonal changes while examining how plants and animals respond.

Seed Dispersal: Groups learn to identify and explain the function of different plant parts. Homeschoolers will discover why plants put energy into producing flowers and seeds. Explore the reasons plants send seeds on a long journey, and the different mechanisms seed use, such as “hitchhiking” and “parachuting,”  to travel.

Sensible Senses: The call of a bird, the scent of a tree, and the texture of bark are all ways to identify plants and animals. Learn these and other techniques to improve sensory observation skills and learn to use them to identify natural organisms. After learning how our fellow animals use their senses to survive, we’ll investigate how we can apply their sensual adaptations to enrich our own lives.

Sleep, Stay, Run Away: Learn how animals know winter is on the way and how they prepare for it. Homeschoolers will investigate winter strategies with hands-on activities, artifacts, and live animal observations. Discussions include adaptations, hibernation, migration and animal behavior.

Snakes of New Jersey: Discover the differences between snakes and other species and learn about the 21 species of snakes that reside in NJ. An interactive slide presentation emphasizes the importance of these legless reptiles by identifying and exploring their adaptations. Artifacts and up-close encounters with several live snakes make this a memorable educational experience.

Soil Ecology: Discover that dirt is an important part of our natural life as you “dig-in” to an in-depth study of soil. Your homeschoolers will delve into the world of the earth’s top-most layer and learn to identify the components of soil. Using samples from the Nature Center, participants will compare different types of dirt and discover that soil is a habitat that supports many forms of life.

Water, Water Everywhere: Help perform demonstrations, experiments and activities as your homeschoolers are introduced to water molecules and the concepts of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, transpiration, freezing, surface tension.  They will learn how plants and animals recycle water and how some animals live in and on the water. During a guided hike along the Nature Center trails, participants will play a game designed to help explain how water is vital to all life forms.

Weather or Not: Learn how sun, air, land, and water each play a role in determining our weather, and how these elements can be used to  predict weather patterns. Through demonstrations and experiments, your homeschoolers will learn how to use several basic instruments to measure and hypothesize future weather patterns. Homeschoolers will measure differences in air pressure, prove that air has weight, and investigate how and why weather changes.

Web of Life: Discover how energy flows from the sun through the food web. Search for living examples of producers, consumers and decomposers in a variety of habitats. Your homeschoolers will discuss the concept of food chains, population dynamics, adaptation and change. Activities include games to highlight predator and prey relationships and an interpretive hike. 

What is a Tree?: Through role-playing, songs, games and a journey into our woods, your homeschoolers will discover the inner workings of a tree and the physical characteristics that define some of the common species found here in NJ. Learn how animals and humans use the different parts of a tree, and who here at the Nature Center calls a tree home.

Wildflower/Plant Walk: During a walk, participants draw plants, learn to distinguish between seed and non-seed plants, and learn the value of plants as living things that interconnect with other organisms.