Programs - First-Fourth Grade

Learn Outside with Nature as a Teacher

Heller’s educational programs offer school groups the opportunity to learn about the natural world through experiences in an outdoor setting. Our hands-on philosophy encourages learners to heighten their awareness of the natural world, understand basic ecological concepts, and increase concerns for the earth and all its life. Our school programs are in line with the Next Generation Science Standards.


First-Fourth Grade

Animal Survival


How do animals prepare for each season? Are animals always active? What do they eat? How do they survive? As nature detectives, your students will search for clues to answer these and many more questions.

60 minutes

Sun, Seeds and Salads


Search for roots, stems, leaves, flowers and seeds. Discover a plant’s four basic needs of life and stop at the garden to snack on roots, stems, and flowers. Then plant your very own seeds to take home.

75 minutes   


Fall/Late Spring

Insects are an amazing group of animals, loaded with fascinating adaptations. What makes an insect an insect? What is metamorphosis? How do they protect themselves? Students will use nets to catch and release insects for a close-up view of the incredible diversity right here at Heller.

60 minutes   



By using clues to solve riddles, participants discover the four basic components of all habitats and how they are important to the survival of living things. This activity identifies water, shelter, food, and space as the components of the habitat and illustrates how they work together as a system. Students also learn about a forest food chain.

75 minutes   

Pond Study

Late Spring

Explore an underwater habitat teeming with biodiversity. With nets in hand, students will capture micro and macro invertebrates, everything from dragonfly nymphs to bullfrog tadpoles. Using microscopes, student’s will then take an up close look at this wonderful diversity of creatures.

60 minutes


Prairie Plants and Ecosystems

Early Fall

Discover why Illinois is known as the Prairie State. Explore our native tall grass prairie to uncover its hidden wonders. Students will learn the components of a prairie, examine its biodiversity, and make predictions on which plants, animals and insects could survive this prairie ecosystem. Prairie cultural history will also be discussed.

90 minutes   



Discover internal and external functions of plant components, how plants work together as a system and adaptations that help them survive.  Students will participate in an interactive hike learning about plants need for survival and will have the opportunity to dissect flowers and use microscopes to explore their findings.

90 minutes


Exploring Weather


Join us as we conduct a hands-on, outdoor experiments to unravel a few of weather’s secrets. Using scientific instruments, students will observe, measure, and record weather data to determine the forecast.
60 minutes   


Contact Us

Program Manager
Naturalist Teacher
Naturalist Teacher
Office Coordinator