School Field Trips

Why not enhance your school learning programs with a trip to Lake Katherine?

Each season offers different lessons and experiences and field trips can be scheduled all year round. One of our naturalists will be happy to discuss your ideas and needs. If a guided field trip is not available, you are welcome to use Lake Katherine for your own self-guided programs.

Program Details

Our naturalist-led programs are:

  • $6 per student (adults are free)
  • 1.5 to 3 hours in length
  • Hands-on and learner-centered
  • Spent primarily outside

Our Thanksgiving

Each student will make their own small container of butter. Students will then taste their creation and sample other foods from the 1700's. Children will play a variety of games from past eras. Program available only in November. Recommended for grades Pre-K and K.

Who's Whoo?

A naturalist will lead an interactive discussion of owl adaptations. While listening to eerie owl calls, students will become forensic scientists and dissect their own owl pellet. Students will use magnifying glasses to see the differences between goose feathers and owl feathers. To further understand the food chain, a predator/prey game will be played in the prairie. Other games will help to learn about animal strategies of survival. Recommended for 3rd through 5th grades.

Winging It

Students will discover the unique attributes of birds through hands-on investigations. Each student will dissect an egg, learning the function and purpose of each part. Students will also participate in an owl "nest feeding" game, measure the wingspans of various birds, use magnifying glasses to inspect feathers, and match tools to bird beaks. Recommended for 2nd through 5th grades.

Animal Adaptations

This hands-on program will help students learn about the adaptations of mammals by examining skulls and pelts of mammals to learn who is a carnivore or herbivore. Our outdoor time will include playing a survival game of predator/prey in the prairie, a camouflage hunt, and other games. Recommended for 3rd through 5th grades.

Explore Lake Katherine

Explore the 5 different habitats of Lake Katherine. In the style of a scavenger hunt, students will explore and compare the different vegetation. The different habitats include: 1-Decidious forest, 2-Conifer forest, 3-Pond/Wetland, 4-Garden, 5-Tall grass prairie. This program can be adapted or 1st through 6th grades (4th and 5th will include nature sketching).

I Spy -Spring-Fall-Winter-Fish

We have four different programs that include the reading of a short story, five stations of hands-on activities, and an outdoor scavenger hunt. Recommended for grades Pre-K through 1st grades.


Students will investigate a variety of seeds; vegetable, flower, grass and weeds. Students will engage in sorting, examining with magnifiers, dissecting and planting seeds. Recommended for kindergarten through 2nd grades.

Body Coverings

Students will use hand lenses, touching and exploring various body coverings of animals; feathers, turtle shells, snake skin, and mammal pelts. Students will "play" movement games to mimic the movements of animals and take a nature walk outdoors. Recommended for Pre-K through 1st grade.


A scientific exploration using worms, combining art, science and literature. We will read a story of worms. Students will then explore and touch the worms, recreate the details with modeling clay, and sketch and label their drawings. Recommended for Kindergarten through 5th grades.


We will discover the world of insects and other arthropods. The program will include a brief overview of an insect's major body parts and students organizing plastic arthropods into categories. We will examine a preserved grasshopper. Outdoors students will then observe insects and other arthropods. Chaperones will record the children's descriptive details of the creature they find and ID the creatures into categories. We will also play a camouflage game. Recommended for Pre-K through 3rd grade.

Salamanders, Turtles & Frogs, Oh My!

Encounter the world of native Illinois reptiles and amphibians. Learn who has scaly and who has wet slippery skin. Observe, touch and learn some of the characteristics of these unique creatures. Our outdoor nature walk will include several learning games. Recommended for 1st through 5th grades.

H2 OH!

Fun with Water

Five stations of activities: sink and float, who lives there, water filtration, erosion and what is not in our tap water. Students will rotate through the five stations in small groups. Recommended for Pre-K through 1st grade

Wetland Wonders

Using dip nets, each student will Retrieve insect larvae from the water's edge of the lake, a wetland habitat, and place into petri dishes. Students will categorize the specimens they find using magnifiers and a dissecting scope. Specimens will be grouped into pollution tolerance levels as well as what type of consumer they are. Recommended for 3rd through 5th grades.

Water World

Water, water everywhere. Is it a solid, liquid or gas? Follow the path of a drop of water from lake to cloud to rain. Learn the terms involved in the cycle of water in a fun demonstration. Take a walk on our grounds looking for examples of the water cycle. This program is especially designed for 3rd and 4th grades.

Where Does the Rain Go?

Students add "pollutants" and "rain" to a model city, then watch where it all goes. Students learn the implications of pollutants and watersheds. An outdoor excursion on the grounds compares reality to the model, plus students will "travel" as a drop of water to better understand the water cycle and its role with watersheds. Presenter emphasizes the need for wetlands. Recommended for 3rd through 5th grades.