Forest Preservation Virtual School Programs

Virtual programs are available to help you with your teaching. These programs are strong in STEM and aligned with Common Core and Next Generation science standards. If you have any questions regarding these standards as they relate to school curricula, please contact Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, Isle a la Cache Museum, or Plum Creek Nature Center. All programs are presented by our team of professional and knowledgeable naturalists.

Requests are timestamped and queued in the order they are received. Please note that submission of an inquiry form does not guarantee a booking. Application forms are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

***NOTE: Curriculum applications for the 2022-23 school year cannot be submitted until Tuesday, August 16.***

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Animal Adaptation Challenge

Notes: 2-5

Time: 30 minutes
Wild animals have adaptations that allow them to live and survive. Students cheer on an interpretive naturalist as they test themselves against the survival skills of local wildlife. It’s man against wildlife at every obstacle along the Animal Habitat Challenge trail. Who will win the battle for survival?

Animal sightings

Notes: 3-5

Time: 45 minutes
Students learn about the many signs left by local animals and the stories they tell. Students learn the importance of observation and how humans benefit from studying animals, including interesting inventions. Your students’ observation skills are put to the test as they find as many animal signs as possible! Students chat live to discuss their findings and what they have learned about different animals.

Ask a naturalist

Notes: 1-12

Time: 30 minutes
Are your students studying a fun and unique topic related to local culture, Will County history, or nature? Need an expert to answer your questions? This informal, student-led Q&A is your invitation to learn more. Book 30 minutes with one of Will County’s Forest Preserve District interpretive naturalists and ask questions. This format is not designed to meet Illinois learning standards.

Cold-blooded encounters

Notes: 2-12

Time: 45 minutes
Let’s become herpetologists! Your students meet the reptile residents who call Plum Creek Nature Center home. Students learn the differences between reptiles and amphibians and how our resident reptiles compare to the native reptiles and amphibians living in our ponds, forests and grasslands.

Crazy time we have

Notes: 6-8

Time: 45 minutes
Find out how extreme weather and our changing climate are intrinsically linked. Explore the causes of climate change and its impact on life on Earth. This program helps break down the complexities of climate change to help students positively and confidently influence the world around them. After discussing how humans are causing climate change, students are tasked with finding a cause for the climate impact and modeling a resolution for Earth’s future.

Dive deep into wetlands

Notes: 2-12

Time: 45 minutes
Come and discover wetlands from your classroom or your home. This program teaches students about the little fresh water we have on Earth, the importance of wetland habitats, the biodiversity of ponds, and the unique adaptations belonging to wetland creatures. Students join an interpretive naturalist to dig below the surface of the water. You never know what we’ll catch!

Endangered Species Spotlight: Turtles

Notes: 3-8

Time: 45 minutes
The students discover a local endangered species, the Blanding’s turtle, by meeting one of the animal ambassadors of the Musée de l’Isle à la Cache. Find out what special adaptations help these semi-aquatic turtles survive and learn how a species can become endangered. Students also learn what they can do to help local endangered species. Your students will love getting a behind-the-scenes look at how we care for turtles.

Flex your molds

Notes: 6-8

Time: 45 minutes
Meet your local mussels and explore the role they play in our rivers. Discover the secrets of their underwater world and their importance to the health of our watershed. This program focuses on river ecology and mussels as an indicator of stream cleanliness. Students will learn to flex their own “molds” as they explore filter feeding and experiment with different water filters. When we get back together, the students will discuss their results and how to become a mighty mold ambassador.

Habitat Explorers

Notes: 2-12

Time: 45 minutes
Take a virtual hike through the habitats of Goodenow Grove Nature Reserve. Through observation, become aware of the similarities and differences between habitats and how each habitat meets the basic survival needs of its inhabitants. Possible habitats when hiking include wetlands, grasslands, and forests.

Exploration of pollination

Notes: 2-12

Time: 45 minutes
Why do flowers attract so many visitors? What is pollination and what does it do? Let’s find the answers by exploring native flowers and critters! Together, your class will discover the secrets that flowers and pollinators hold.

Mississippi Quest

Notes: 3-6

Time: 45 minutes
Students discover the travels of Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet on the “mighty Mississippi River”. An interpretive naturalist leads a “Choose Your Adventure” activity where students use their critical thinking skills to determine the best course of action in the face of the same difficulties and successes as Marquette and Jolliet on their 2,500 mile journey in 1673 .

rippling rivers

Notes: 3-5

Time: 45 minutes
Travel the rivers of Will County! Students create a simple watershed model and illustrate human impacts on our rivers. Learn about the diverse species that make up the river community. Students are challenged to independently investigate how a specific species serves river habitats, and they share their research and reveal the connections between all members of the river community.

Stop the invaders

Notes: 9-12

Time: 45 minutes
Invasive species threaten the biodiversity of our local ecosystems. Whether it’s microscopic viruses, shrubs or mammals, let’s address the important questions. How did they get here? What is their impact? Above all, what can be done to combat them? After highlighting a variety of species, students research a local invasive species and discuss possible solutions for managing it.

Trader training

Notes: 3-6

Time: 45 minutes
Enroll your students in an online learning experience to become 18th century fur traders who meet two inhabitants of the Illinois Country of the 1750s (in first person!). Students receive training and practice the barter system used by the French and Native Potawatomi to trade furs and goods. By participating in a trade, students experience the benefits of this economic process.

trouble in the water

Notes: 4-8

Time: 45 minutes
Immerse yourself in our most important resource: water! This STEAM-rich program introduces students to their local watershed while empowering them to think globally and create change. Students are introduced to water issues, including water use, quality, scarcity, water waste in agriculture, and plastics. As an independent activity, students model a solution to a local water problem.

Perry A. Thomasson