The Nature Institute offers two types of educational opportunities created especially for homeschool families. In the “Resources” section below, you will find information about teaching resources to use on your own, at our preserve or the nature spot of your choice. In the “The Nature Institute Homeschool Program” section, you will find information about our dropoff homeschool program, which is offered throughout the year and facilitated by our naturalist educators. 

Can’t wait for the next homeschool program? TNI has dozens of educational, affordable public programs that happen year round! We welcome homeschool families at all of our events. Check out our calendar to see what’s coming up next!

My child is 3-5 Years Old
My Child is 6-10 Years Old
My Child is 11-14 Years Old


IDNR Field Trip Pack (Not Currently Available)

The Field Trip Pack contains many items to assist children as they explore nature. Hands-on equipment will encourage self-initiated learning. Ideas for incorporating natural-resources activities into your lessons are also included. The pack may be checked out for up to two weeks.

Outdoor Adventure Kit (OAK)

The Nature Institute is proud to unveil our brand new Outdoor Adventure Kits (OAK). These nature exploration kits are free to use at the preserve and beyond. Each kit contains scavenger hunts, bug boxes, binoculars, field guides, a map of TNI, a compass, instructions for use, and upcycled nature notebooks. The kits are recommended for ages 5+ and we recommend one kit per family.

The Nature Institute Homeschool Program


Program Format

Our homeschool program has two age groups: 6-10 and 11-14. Each group meets three times per year, in the Fall, Winter, and Spring. All programs take place from 10:00am-12:00pm on the day they are scheduled. 

Parents and Siblings

This is a drop-off program. Parents do not need to attend. If you choose to attend, we would like to stress the importance of your active participation. We also ask that you turn off all cell phones and other distractions for the duration of the visit. Children who are not registered for the program may not be brought to class, including all siblings. Please make arrangements for other children on the dates of your visits. You are welcome to explore the preserve, use the play area, or have a picnic with your other children while you wait to pick up the child participating in the program. 

Expected Behavior

Please prepare your child by helping them understand appropriate group-learning behaviors, which include:

  • Raising hands before shouting out questions or ideas
  • Taking turns and sharing
  • Staying with the group
  • Being respectful to classmates and teacher

These are essential for a productive learning experience.

Program Themes

The programs are organized according to the themes listed below. The specific topics within the theme will vary from year to year. For upcoming program dates and topics, please visit our event calendar.

Age Fall Winter Spring
6-10 Biodiversity Ecology Life Cycles
11-14 Water Resources Nutrient Cycles Citizen Science