School Programs (Pre K-Grade 12)

Welcome to the School Program guide, where you will find engaging programs appropriate for our youngest Preschoolers through advanced High School students.  Scroll down to find a quick guide matrix and alphabetical descriptions of Field TripsThird Beach Field Trips, and School Outreach.

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Field Trip Program Quick Guide

Field trip matrix

Field Trip Program Descriptions (listed alphabetically)
Year-round unless otherwise noted.

Balancing Act—Students examine the interrelationships among plants, animals, and their environment. Games and activities help to illustrate the delicate balance between predator and prey, the elements of the food web, and the many connections that hold ecosystems together.
Recommended for Grades 3-8.

Exploring Ecosystems—This program introduces students to a variety of ecosystems at the Norman Bird Sanctuary. Students will learn about animal adaptations, forest layers, pond life, and more through games and hands-on activities. Choose three diverse ecosystems of the four: field, forest, pond, or ridge.
Recommended for Grades 1-8.

Freshwater Ecology—Students will visit and learn about the ecology of ponds, streams, and vernal pools. They will also have the opportunity to use nets and other collecting tools. We’ll sample for macroinvertebrates, amphibians, and other species. Students will also investigate the physical and chemical properties of these important habitats.
Recommended for Grades 6-12; late March-early October.

Geology Rocks—Explore the geologic history of Aquidneck Island as we take a challenging hike along the beautiful Sanctuary ridges. This interactive program discusses the rock cycle, glaciation, erosion, and soil formation.
Recommended for Grades 3-12.

Go Wild for Herptiles (field trip version)—Your students will go wild for reptiles and amphibians, a group that is collectively known as “herptiles.” Up-close animal observation time will acquaint your students with the special adaptations of this group. This class also features hands-on activities and a hike out to visit the habitats where wild herptiles may be found.
Recommended for Grades 3-8.

Into the Woods—Study Rhode Island’s forests from the soil to the canopy in this interactive field program. Students will study invasive and native plant species, learn about indicators of forest health, and will use dichotomous keys to identify forest floor invertebrates.
Recommended for Grades 6-12; late March-early October.

Native Ways—Join us on a cultural journey back in time as we examine what life was like for Native Americans who originally inhabited Aquidneck Island and coastal Rhode Island. We’ll learn how they used natural resources, their legends about local wildlife, use their tools and weapons, and discuss their connections with nature and respect for the earth.
Recommended for Grades 3-8.

Nature Discovery Walk—Take part in a hands-on discovery of NBS trails and habitats. An educator will lead interpretive activities along the way. Animal signs, seasonal changes in plants, and other stories of the landscape will be highlighted. You never know what we might encounter along the way!
Recommended for All Ages!

Rotten to the Core—Join us as we journey into the forest in search of nature’s garbage collectors—decomposers! We’ll investigate fungi, lichens, insects, and other organisms through hands-on activities with compost, biofacts, and decomposer experiments.
Recommended for Grades 1-5.

The Pond & Beyond—Dive into pond and stream ecology as we splash around in search of macroinvertebrates, amphibians, fish, and more! Students will use dip nets, magnifying lenses, and sorting charts to investigate the living things that we find.
Recommended for Grades 1-5; late March-early October.

What’s Bugging You? (field trip version)—An introduction to insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. Students will look under logs and explore a variety of field habitats in search of these spineless animals! A visit from a live invertebrate will also highlight the group’s adaptations for survival.
Recommended for Grades PreK-5; late March-early October.

What in the World is a Watershed?—This program introduces the idea that watershed systems are all around us, and what we put into the water really matters! Students will go out and trace part of the local watershed on foot, and then build their own mini-watershed models.
Recommended for Grades 3-8; mid-June-early October.

Third Beach Field Trip Program Quick Guide

TBEC Field Trip Matrix

Third Beach Field Trip Program Descriptions (listed alphabetically)
Beach programs are seasonal—please check each description for specific information.

Beach Ecology—Using a variety of collecting tools, such as minnow traps and hand nets, your class will study the sandy and rocky shore, the dune system, and salt marsh. Animal adaptations, habitat conservation, and tidal fluctuations are investigated in this program.
Recommended for Grades 6-12; late April-early October.

Land to Sea—This program focuses on the habitat transition from seashore to upland areas. Students will learn about the conservation efforts to reestablish habitat for the endangered New England Cottontail. Through a unique service-learning opportunity, students will learn first-hand about field succession.
Recommended for Grades 6-12; late April-early October.

Sea Life Safari—Discover the wonders of Narragansett Bay with this age-appropriate introduction to beach ecology. We’ll sweep the shore for interesting discoveries, search for some of the creatures that live at the seashore, and even learn about the sand beneath out feet.
Recommended for Grades PreK-5; late April-early October.

Seining the Sakonnet—Students will learn the basics of estuarine ecology and how to use a seine net to sample Narragansett Bay’s rich abundance of life. We’ll identify and discuss each species we catch. Students will get wet, so extra water shoes are a must, and a change of clothes is recommended.
Recommended for Grades 1-12; June-early October.

School Outreach Program Quick Guide

School outreach matrix

School Outreach Program Descriptions (listed alphabetically)

Animals, Authors & Art—Students will delve into a storybook, meet a live animal, and complete a craft based on the program theme. Please choose one of the following animal themes for your program: Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Insects.
Recommended for Grades PreK & K.

Bird Brains—What makes a bird a bird? We’ll get to know our feathered friends through discovery activities, investigating bird biofacts, and meeting a friendly live bird that students can actually touch. Students will even get to dress up one of their classmates!
Recommended for Grades PreK-5.

Getting Ready for Winter—Brr…It’s getting cold outside! Discover how Rhode Island’s plants and animals prepare for the change in seasons. We’ll meet a live animal, play games, and much more.
Recommended for Grades PreK & K; October-February only.

Go Wild for Herptiles (outreach version)—Your students will go wild for reptiles and amphibians, a group that is collectively known as “herptiles.” Up-close animal observation time will acquaint your students with the special adaptations of this group. This class also features hands-on activities: classification games for elementary students or an endangered species case study debate for middle and high school students.
Recommended for Grades 3-12.

Hunters of the Sky—Meet a live bird of prey up close as we examine their unique natural history and the adaptations that make raptors such powerful and successful predators. Students will examine feathers and skulls up close in order to “dig deeper” and answer questions about the birds they came from. Teachers can opt for a guided owl pellet dissection activity instead of skull and feather investigation with an additional charge of $2 per pellet.
Recommended for Grades 3-12.

Meet the Animals—Meet a variety of the Sanctuary’s education animals, with an emphasis on the animals’ adaptations, natural history, and behavior. If you have a special request, such as no mammals due to a student allergy, please inform us at the time of booking. Please note that while raptors are not included in the program, you may request a chicken presentation.
Recommended for Grades 1-5.

Metamorphosis Puppet Show—Norman, a Rhode Island Red rooster, discovers that his friend, a Monarch caterpillar, will soon change into a butterfly. Join Norman and his friends as they learn about the mysterious process of metamorphosis during this amusing, interactive puppet show. Following the show, students will engage in imaginative play to better understand life cycle changes. Students will also meet a live animal version of a character from the show!
Recommended for Grades PreK & K.

Physics of Flight—Students will examine the general principles behind the physics of flight. We will use multimedia and interactive experiments to illustrate the anatomy, physiology and locomotion of a variety of flying animals, with a focus on birds.
Recommended for Grades 6-12.

Schoolyard Habitats—Your group will investigate the often overlooked ecology of your own school yard through observation, data collection, and fun activities. You’ll never look at your school the same way again!
Recommended for Grades 1-5; September-November and April-June only.

What’s Bugging You?—An introduction to insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. A visit from a live invertebrate will highlight the group’s many adaptations for survival. Students will participate in hands-on activities that reinforce concepts such as camouflage, vertebrates vs. invertebrates, and habitats.
Recommended for Grades PreK-5.

What’s Your Cover?—This is the PreK & K version of Meet the Animals. We will focus on fur, feathers, and scales as students put on their detective hats to compare mammals, reptiles, and birds.
Recommended for Grades PreK & K.

Norman Bird Sanctuary