Educators & Schools

Field trips for Maine's youth and school groups

Let us be a partner in your nature-studies curriculum. Plan a field trip or school group visit to the Gardens where we’ve been cultivating curiosity for Maine’s students and youth groups for over a decade, and connect to nature in a unique coastal environment. We offer guided, self-guided, virtual, and therapeutic field trip options to our visiting groups.

Available field trip spots, May through mid-October, fill quickly; pre-book your visit with CMBG’s Education Department. Participating school groups receive a discounted admission rate. Read our School Group Reservation Policies and Pricing.

Girls digging through dirt, looking for worms and other decomposers in the soil.
A Gardens staff instructor taking questions from young students sitting along a wall in the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses.
Two students exploring the shore and tidal river, one with binoculars.
A young girl with a clipboard in the forest, filling out information for class.

Guided Field Trips

Guided Nature Walks

These 60-90 minute walks are led by an experienced Gardens staff guide. These walks explore different areas of the Gardens and its surrounding woodlands, and dive into different relevant topics. The price for each program is $25.

Guided Nature Walk Topics

Central Gardens Walk (PreK-3rd) – Students will be introduced to our two most popular gardens for kids-the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses and the Alfond Children’s Garden.

Five Senses in the Garden (PreK-3rd) – Students will put all five senses to use as we explore the many features of the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses.

Bee Walk (K-12) – Students will be introduced to the process of pollination, learn about native versus nonnative bees and how to garden for them, and understand the importance of these pollinators out in the natural world. Checking out the Gardens’ apiary with a staff beekeeper will help students become more comfortable with these amazing creatures.

Sense of Wonder Trail Walk (K-8th) – Students will explore the web of life in our forest ecosystem through the lens of author, marine biologist, conservationist, and seasonal Maine resident, Rachel Carson. Teachers who sign up for this program will receive a book about Rachel Carson to share with their class before the field trip. (NGSS)

Maine Woods Walk (3rd-12th) – Students will learn how to identify common Maine trees and be able to distinguish a conifer tree from a deciduous one. Students will also gain an understanding of the ecology and cultural history of our native trees. (NGSS)

Bird Walk (K-12th) – Students will learn how to identify birds by sight and sound and gain skills using binoculars for birding. Small binoculars can be provided, but students are welcome to use their own.

Apple Cider Pressing (PreK-6th) (fall only) – Students will learn about the botanical and cultural history of apples as they participate in making apple cider with an old-fashion press. (An extra $12 charge per class for apple cider pressing supplies will be applied.)

Field Studies

Hands-on field-study explorations give students the opportunity to observe a variety of living organisms and their life cycles. Aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), these fun and stimulating one-hour sessions can be adapted to grades PreK-6, and include a take-home project. The price for each program is $25.

Field Study Topics

The Life of a Plant – What better way to learn about plants than by tasting them? Students will sample their way through the vegetable garden as they explore a plant’s life cycle from seed to fruit, learning about its different parts and how they function. Students will also learn about plant needs, photosynthesis, and some of the unique adaptations of our native plants. Each student will pot up an edible plant to grow at home. (NGSS)

Decomposers – Students will investigate life underground, discovering the important role decomposers play in helping our gardens grow. Students will learn to identify these living organisms, learn about the anatomy of a worm, and understand how decomposition works. Each class will be given a worm jar to take back to school for future study. (NGSS)

The Life of a Butterfly – (June 15-Sept. 20) Come and explore our Native Butterfly and Moth House at the Gardens! Students will be introduced to native butterflies and moths in all stages of their life cycle and learn about their role in the food web. Students will also discover the differences between butterflies and moths and their unique adaptations for survival. Each student will pot up a butterfly plant to grow at home. (NGSS)

Intensive Study Units

For teachers looking for a more involved experience to incorporate into an overall curricular unit, our two-hour intensive study units include both classroom and field work as well as pre- and post-visit downloadable activities to reinforce learned concepts. These units are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. The price for each program is $50.

Intensive Study Unit Topics

Birds at the Gardens (K-6th) (spring only) – Students will be introduced to inland and coastal birds of Maine and their adaptations. Students will study bird calls, learn mnemonics to help remember them, and gain experience using binoculars to identify birds. Through exploration and observation of two different habitats, students will be able to make connections between a bird’s habitat and their unique adaptations. (Overview and NGSS)

Pollinators (K-6th) – Students will be introduced to our different pollinators and their flower preferences, knowledge reinforced through observations in the garden. Students will have the opportunity to dissect a flower to understand its parts, while also gaining a better understanding of the process of pollination and the critical role pollinators play in a plant’s life cycle. (Overview and NGSS)

Wetlands (K-6th) (spring only) – Students will learn what makes wetlands unique ecosystems by investigating the plants and animals that depend on them for survival. Through exploration and observation of two wetland habitats, including a vernal pool, students will gain an understanding of the forest food chain, metamorphosis, and the life cycles of the spotted salamander and wood frog. (Overview and NGSS)

Plant Adaptations (3rd-8th) – Students will gain an understanding of plant adaptions by learning about Earth’s ten biomes. Through in-depth classroom investigations and field explorations, students will be able to identify the physical traits that help plants survive in nature. (Overview and NGSS)

Botany (3rd-8th) – Students will be introduced to a botanist’s method of thinking about the plant world. Students will learn about plant structures and their functions, life cycles, some basic groups of plants and their key characteristics, and how to use a plant identification key. Exploration out in the Gardens will help put their newly-gained botany skills to the test.

Therapeutic Gardening and Garden Tour

Students of all ages and abilities can learn about and enjoy plants through interactive, engaging, and therapeutic plant-based activities. Led by Horticultural Therapist Irene Brady, this 2-hour program helps foster decision-making, critical thinking, logical reasoning, and creative problem-solving through plants, soil, and water. Direct engagement is encouraged, but students can choose to participate actively or passively in these sessions. After potting up a plant or creating a plant-based craft to take home, students will take a guided walk through the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses where they can smell, touch, hear, taste, and see the plants and features, stimulating and inspiring positive reactions—questions, conversation, and joy. Interacting with plants in a social, dynamic situation breaks down barriers and helps create opportunity for mindful growth. The price for this program is $75.

Contact the Gardens to schedule your visit today.

Self-Guided Field Trips

With their teachers or chaperones, children are free to explore the Gardens. Each school group is designated a private space in which to leave backpacks and gather for snacks or meals. Price is free with Gardens admission. Enhance your self-guided visit with the suggested addition below.

Field Notebooks

Borrowing our Field Notebooks is a great way for students, PreK-6th, to discover all the Gardens has to offer. Students will conduct their exploration scavenger-hunt style, seeking out a variety of leaf and flower shapes, wildlife, sculptures, hidden gems, and much more. Field Notebooks are free with admission.

Virtual Field Trip Offerings

April-October, as available | $25 per class

Join us for one-hour virtual, interactive lessons focusing on one of the topics below. Designed for PreK through 6th grade, each program includes a digital packet of activities to help expand on the lesson in classrooms and/or outside, either at school or at home. Contact Bridget VerVaet at (207)-633-8037 or fieldtrips@mainegardens.org to schedule a virtual field trip.

 

Pollinators

Students will learn about the important role pollinators play in nature, the differences between them, and their flower preferences. A flower dissection demonstration will help students become familiar with the process of pollination and the parts of a flower. Using store-bought tulips or daffodils, students can dissect a flower with the instructor for further exploration.

 

All About Seeds

Students will dissect a bean seed, review the life cycle of a plant, learn about the importance of seeds in nature, and explore how seeds have adapted for survival over time.

Decomposers

Join us as we delve into the compost pile and explore the world of decomposers! Students will learn how decomposition works, why decomposers are so important to helping our gardens grow, and get up-close and personal with earthworm anatomy.

Questions?

Have questions about planning your school group or field trip visit? Contact Bridget VerVaet, Youth Programs Educator, at (207) 633-8037 or email fieldtrips@mainegardens.org.