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Education Programs: Families

Always free. Always fun.

Foster a natural curiosity in your family for science and the great outdoors with our programs for families with children aged 3-12. Experience the topic of the day through discovery hikes, stories, games, and nature art projects. Programs are led by environmental educators. Registration is not required. For groups larger than 10 people, please provide advance notice so we can plan accordingly. Programs take place both in the Bunker Interpretive Center, and out in the Ecosystem Preserve, so please come prepared for walking outside in a variety of weather conditions.

First Saturdays

Caring for Wild Animals
April 1, 2017 at 10:30 am - 12 pm
Educator: Allyson Swanson, licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator with Wildlife Rehab Center

This program is geared towards families with children aged 8 to 18 years old; it is not appropriate for younger children.

Each year Wildlife Rehab Center (WRC) cares for around 1,800 injured and orphaned wild animals found in the Grand Rapids area. Allyson will bring along her live animal ambassadors for participants to meet up close, and to help us learn when and how we can best help a wild animal.As always this program is free; however, WRC is always in need of supplies! You may already have a surplus of items such as linens, cleaning products, or paper goods that can help their animals. Check out their wishlist and bring an item(s) to the program to donate to this great cause.

Spring Break 2017

Looking for something to do during spring break? Come visit us at the preserve! As always, you are invited to stop in the Bunker Interpretive Center at your leisure. Together, children and their parents/caregivers can read a storybook or two, star in their own puppet show, play a fun game of nature bingo together, and go on a hike through the preserve. For groups larger than 10 people, please contact us in advance so we can plan accordingly. We are open Monday-Friday at 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

We also offer a variety of our favorite educational programs in which children and their parents/caregivers can participate at various times throughout the week. While all programs are free, we do accept donations. No pre-registration is required unless otherwise noted. An adult is required to accompany all children at all programs. Programs will take place in light rain, so dress for the weather and walking the trails.

Animal Games│Monday, April 3│10 - 11:30 a.m.
From bats to deer to squirrels, we will learn about a variety of survival techniques that these animals use to both protect themselves and capture their prey as we play our favorite animal games. We will be outside, so dress for the weather and wear your running shoes. This program will be led by "Miss Nancy" McIntyre (Naturalist), and is great for families with children ages 3-12 years old.

Woodpeckers: Carpenters of the Forest│Monday, April 3│3 - 4:30 p.m.
Discover why woodpeckers are called the carpenters of the forest by listening to the story Woodpecker Wham! by April Pulley Sayre. Then take a hike with Miss Jeanette to search for woodpeckers who make their home in the preserve. This program is perfect for adults and families with children ages 4 and up.

Flight Lessons: Discovering How Birds Fly│Tuesday, April 4│10 - 11:30 a.m.
Discover how birds fly! We will take a close look at their feathers, create a hummingbird craft and even try on a pair of wings to see if we can flap our wings just like our feathered friends. The forest is sure to be full of many of our favorite birds and we encourage you to take one of our bird-themed scavenger hunts for a walk and explore the day away. This program will be led by Rachel DeHaan & Jared Swanson (Summer Camp Leaders), and is recommended for adults and families with children ages 4 and up.

Spiral Search: Exploring Shapes in Nature│Tuesday, April 4│3 - 4:30 p.m.
Spirals and other shapes abound in nature. Listen as Miss Jeanette reads the story Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman. As a family, go on a nature quest into the woods to discover spirals and other interesting shapes. Then, use the story and your discoveries as inspiration to create your own spiral animals and plants in our art lab. Bring a camera or smartphone to take pictures of your findings, and post them on our Facebook page with the hashtag #spiralsearch. This program is great for adults and families with children ages 4 and up.

Nature's Recyclers Hike│Wednesday, April 5│10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Discover the important recycling role that turkey vultures, fungi, tadpoles, mice, and bacteria play in our environment as you hike through the preserve with Mr. Jon (one of our great Program Leaders). Learn the "rotten truth" about these creatures and many others in this hands-on program about nature's recyclers. This program is appropriate for families with children ages 6 and up.

Spring Discovery Hike│Wednesday, April 5│3 - 4:30 p.m.
The birds are singing and the sun is shining. Join us as we discover signs of spring on a walk through the Ecosystem Preserve. This program will be led by "Miss Nancy" McIntyre (Naturalist) & Jon Gorter (Program Leader), and is great for families with children of all ages, as well as adventurous adults.

Lost in the Woods Movie & Spring Scavenger Hunt│Thursday, April 6│10 - 11:30 a.m.
Watch the delightful movie Lost in the Woods by Carl Sams II on our big screen, and learn more about the first days of a young fawn’s life in the spring. Then participate in a family scavenger hunt through the woods to see if you can spy the many creatures that are featured in the movie. This program is perfect for families with children ages 3-12 years old.

Little Free Library Open House Celebration│Thursday, April 6│3 - 5 p.m.
Come celebrate the opening of our new Little Free Library with an afternoon of fun family activities that will get your kids reading, creating and exploring! Listen to a story or two, create a craft, and discover a quiet place in the preserve to read a book.

Create Your Own Adventure│Friday, April 7│9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Enjoy creating your own adventure on your own schedule today! The Great Migration Challenge Course will be set up on Whiskey Pond trail; discover why birds migrate and the dangers they face along their journeys as you travel along this course (instructions are at the start of the course, located just off the paved path to the BIC). You are also welcome to borrow a scavenger hunt sheet or one of our Discovery Field Packs* to guide an adventure (you may pick these up in the BIC). Then, you are invited to create a watercolor painting of your adventures in the preserve using natural earth paints. Check out our interactive displays (located in the BIC) to discover more about Vernal Pools, Skull Detectives, Michigan Turtles, and Spots, Spines & Fur.
*Discovery Field Packs are available on a first come, first served basis. A 'deposit' of a driver's liscence is required, and will be returned to you when the pack is returned.

building birdhouse

looking off trail