Learning for Families & Children
Learning for Families & Children

Learning for Families & Children

Explore the garden activities for families and children offered this season by scrolling through the list below or browse by category to the right.


Butterfly Investigations

Thursdays and Saturdays, June 14-August 25
11 a.m.

Butterfly House Exhibit

Join us in our new Butterfly House Exhibit as we investigate the lives of the butterflies we’re raising at the Gardens this year. From egg to adult and everything in-between, we’ll search for all stages of a butterfly’s life cycle while also learning to identify the key differences between moths and butterflies.


Pond Investigations

Wednesdays, June 20-August 29
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

The pond in our Children’s Garden is teeming with life during the summer months. Discover what creatures call the water their home as we dip nets into the pond while looking for signs of life around the pond’s edge. We’ll explore life cycles, food chains, differences between reptiles and amphibians and the proper handling of our froggy friends. This is an open activity appropriate for all ages.

Free with Admission


iNature Photography Workshop (Age 10-13)

with Kimberly Post
Ages 10-13
Monday-Friday, June 25-29
9:30 - 3:30 p.m.

Discover the creative possibilities of “iPhoneography” as you advance your digital iPhone or iPad photography skills in this inspiring and engaging workshop. Join artist and instructor Kimberly Post on photographic explorations throughout the Gardens. As Kimberly teaches you the basic insights and hidden secrets of photographing nature, you’ll learn to capture the natural world in uniquely creative ways. This year, a special emphasis will be placed on capturing butterflies and caterpillars in our new butterfly exhibit—up-close and in motion. Back in the classroom, work with a variety of editing apps to enhance your photos, creating both moving and still images while building your own digital portfolio. We’ll end the week with a gallery-style exhibit. Please contact the Gardens if you wish to take the workshop but do not have an iOS device.


Nature Illustration Camp with Hillary Parker-LIFE OF A POND (Ages 7-11)

with Hillary Parker
Ages 7-11
Monday-Friday, July 2-6, 2018
9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Naturalist and internationally award-winning botanical watercolor artist Hillary Parker returns this summer to teach two new week-long, theme-based Nature Illustration Camps (see themes below). Participants will develop a strong foundation in observation, drawing, and painting skills while using pencil, pen and ink, colored pencil and watercolors. We’ll conclude each week with a gallery-style reception for family and friends. All art supplies are included with camp tuition.

Week 1 (Ages 7-11), July 2-6: LIFE OF A POND
Join us as we study and explore the life of a pond through the eyes of an artist. Close observation of pond life—such as frogs, turtles, dragonflies, various aquatic bugs and unique plant life—will result in a portfolio of drawings and paintings based on daily explorations and discoveries.


Scales and Tails-All About Reptiles for All Ages

with the Chewonki Foundation
Monday, July 2
10-11 a.m.
Education Center

Many people conjure up images of slimy skin and bloodthirsty monsters when they hear the word "reptile." This hands-on program works to dispel some of those fears by allowing students to examine snakeskins, turtle shells, skeletons and other unique reptilian artifacts. Using live, non-releasable reptiles, this program will compare species and discuss their adaptations.


Nature Illustration Camp with Hillary Parker-EDIBLE ART (Ages 9-12)

with Hillary Parker
Ages 9-12
Monday-Friday, July 9-13, 2018
9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Naturalist and internationally award-winning botanical watercolor artist Hillary Parker returns this summer to teach two new week-long, theme-based Nature Illustration Camps (see themes below). Participants will develop a strong foundation in observation, drawing, and painting skills while using pencil, pen and ink, colored pencil and watercolors. We’ll conclude each week with a gallery-style reception for family and friends. All art supplies are included with camp tuition.


Week 2 (Ages 9-12), July 9-13: EDIBLE ART
Develop art and cooking skills—all while having fun working in the studio, out in the Gardens and in the kitchen. Students will harvest fruits and veggies, preparing recipes to sample each day as they compile and illustrate their own edible art cookbook. 


Nature Adventure Camp (Age 4-5)

with Karen Jones
Ages 4-5
Monday-Friday, July 16-20
9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Our summer camps for nature adventurers provide fun and enriching opportunities for young people eager to learn about the natural world. Week-long, half-day sessions fully engage children in the outdoors while encouraging imagination and creativity through garden walks, stories, games, arts and crafts and nature-related projects. New, exploration-filled activities will take campers on adventures throughout the Gardens and surrounding forests. By the end of the week, these adventurers will be well on their way to becoming young naturalists!


Nature Adventure Camp (Age 6-8)

with Karen Jones
Ages 6-8
Monday-Friday, July 23-27
12:30 - 4 p.m.

Our summer camps for nature adventurers provide fun, enriching opportunities for young people eager to learn about the natural world. Week-long, half-day sessions fully engage children in the outdoors while encouraging imagination and creativity through garden walks, stories, games, arts and crafts and nature-related projects. New, exploration-filled activities will take campers on adventures throughout the Gardens and surrounding forests. By the end of the week, these adventurers will be well on their way to becoming young naturalists!


Butterfly Pinning Workshop for Ages 12 & up

with Erika Huber
Tuesday, July 24
9:30 a.m. - noon
Education Center

Beginners will learn the technique of rehydrating, relaxing, pinning and mounting dried butterflies. We’ll tour our Butterfly House to learn about Maine’s native butterflies and moths and look for a few dried specimens to pin. Each student will receive a spreading board, insect pins, several dried butterflies to pin during class and a display case to take home. All specimens used in this class have died naturally.


Garden Explorers Camp (Age 4-5)

with Karen Jones
Ages 4-5
Monday-Friday, July 30-August 3
9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Budding gardeners will spend the week digging, planting, watering and harvesting as they learn how to care for our Learning Garden. We’ll investigate the inner workings of a garden from the ground up and get the real “dirt” on plants, lifecycles, composting, garden critters and more! Join us for a week filled with new observations, experiments, taste tests, games and take-home garden projects.  


Moth Lighting

with Sam Jaffe and The Caterpillar Lab
Friday, August 3
7:30 – 10:30 p.m.

Moth lighting—the practice of placing a bright light next to a white sheet, then observing what insects fly in—is sweeping the nation! This favorite pastime of biologists, once limited to entomology courses and research field trips, is becoming a favorite hobby worldwide for nature lovers, gardeners and the naturally curious. Events like National Moth Week and Mothapalooza are attracting more and more attention—and now CMBG is bringing a mothing event to you!

The Caterpillar Lab will be here to set up sheets with special ultra-moth-attracting lights and help identify the hundreds of species we expect to attract. Come be surprised by the diversity, size and beauty of Maine’s nocturnal insects. Bring your curiosity and be ready to become hooked on this popular pastime.

Be prepared—avoid bright clothing, wear long sleeves and pants, and bring a flashlight and insect repellant. This program is designed for both adults and their families and is appropriate for ages 10 and up.


Caterpillars: The Whole Story

with Sam Jaffe and The Caterpillar Lab
Saturday, August 4
1 – 2:30 p.m.

Sam Jaffe, Director of The Caterpillar Lab, will present a photograph- and video-packed talk exploring backyard pollinators, plants and the many caterpillars positioned at the center of it all. His “whole story” perspective of natural history study and appreciation might just make you reconsider an herbivore's place in the garden. The "whole story" is a celebration of caterpillars in all their incarnations—you may never look at an insect the same way again! Afterwards, stay to explore the rest of the Caterpillar Lab exhibit as well as our many gardens, all included in the price of your admission.
This program is designed for both and adults and families and is appropriate for ages 10 and up.


The Caterpillar Walk

with Sam Jaffe and The Caterpillar Lab
Sunday, August 5
1 – 2:30 p.m.

The Caterpillar Lab is moving in, and while the exhibit will be filled with munching critters offering lots to explore, the real story is the one happening in our many gardens where these creatures are living out their strange lives in the wild. Join Director of The Caterpillar Lab Sam Jaffe on an exploration of the Gardens, searching for native caterpillars and other insects. Learn how The Caterpillar Lab finds their caterpillars, all about host plants and parasitoids and get caterpillar-finding secrets from one of the foremost caterpillar hunters in the world! This walk is appropriate for naturalists, gardeners and explorers of all ages. However, it may not be appropriate for more casually interested younger children.


Garden Investigators Camp-A BUG'S LIFE (Ages 6-8)

with Karen Jones
Ages 6-8
Monday-Friday, August 6-10
12:30 - 4 p.m.

Bug lovers unite as we scour gardens, woods and ponds in search of the Gardens’ tiniest residents. Through activities, observations and a special visit from our resident beekeeper, campers will learn about bug lifecycles, their role in nature and the secrets of their survival. We’ll also spend time investigating the lives of caterpillars and butterflies in our new butterfly exhibit. If your child loves all things creepy-crawly, this is the camp for them!


Adventure Day at the Gardens! (Age 6-8)

with Erika Huber
Wednesday, August 15
9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Come and spend a fun-filled day with us at the Gardens! Whether taking a boat trip down a tidal river or hiking through our extensive woodlands, we’ll explore some of the many things the Gardens has to offer. Young adventurers will spend the day doing hands-on activities, playing games in the garden, completing nature challenges and conducting pond studies. We’ll even make our own snack right from the garden!


Adventure Day at the Gardens! (Age 9-11)

with Erika Huber
Thursday, August 16
9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Come and spend a fun-filled day with us at the Gardens! Whether taking a boat trip down a tidal river or hiking through our extensive woodlands, we’ll explore some of the many things the Gardens has to offer. Young adventurers will spend the day doing hands-on activities, playing games in our gardens, completing nature challenges and conducting pond studies. We’ll even make our own snack right from the garden!