Children’s Programs

Check out the lists below to see our upcoming programs for children. Click on the name of the program to see more details and register.

Young Children

Nature Babies– Strap on your baby carrier and get ready for an adventure! This 45 minute program is crafted for ages 12 weeks to 2 years and includes outdoor and sensory activities, as well as a short group hike. Parents are encouraged to use baby or toddler carriers during our hike, as many of our trails are not stroller friendly. Pre-registration appreciated but not required. This program runs from 10 – 10:45 am.

  • April 12
  • May 10

Knee High Naturalists Put on some boots and bring your sense of exploration. This program is designed for preschool aged children (3 – 5 years old) accompanied by an adult. Participants will learn about nature, read a story, and go for a short hike. This program takes place on the 1st Tuesday of the month. $4/members, $5 non – members. Save when you sign up for all three sessions.

  • March 1 – Muddy Mayhem
  • April 5 – Glorious Gardens
  • May 3 – Incredible Insects

Messy Play Day – It’s time to get MESSY! Stop by The Nature Institute for a slew of messy activities to take part in. Paint, splash, squish and stomp through a variety of sensory – based activities. Self – guided activities will be available between 10 am – 12 pm. The best part? TNI cleans up the mess! This program has an Early Childhood focus, for ages 18 months to 4 years. $3/child, adults are free. This program takes place on May 21st from 10 – 12. No pre-registration is required. 


Discovery Nature ClubDiscovery Nature Club is an after school drop-off program for elementary students (1st – 5th grade). This spring, learn about the impact that humans have on the earth and how we can help to make a difference.

  • March 10 – Pollution Solution
  • April 14 – Nature’s Invaders
  • May 12 – Our Changing Climate

Field Guides Field Guides is an after school drop-off program for middle and high school students. This spring, our group will be tackling the topic of Zoology. We will explore animal behaviors, practice animal dissection, and learn the basics of designing habitats for animals under human care. $9/session for members, $10/session for non-members.

  • March 31 – Animal Behavior
  • April 28 – Animal Anatomy & Dissection
  • May 26 – Habitat Design

Outdoor EDventure Days – This drop off program provides a single camp day for students when schools are closed. Morning snack is included in the program pricing. Spaces are limited. This program runs from 9 am – 3 pm and is available to ages 6 – 12. See below for a description of our upcoming Outdoor EDventure Days.

  • November 24th: Bird Bonanza – Learn bird calls, go bird watching, and craft a birdfeeder. Have fun exploring our native habitats and going on hikes!
  • March 7th: The Danger Zone – What’s the difference between poison and venom? Do we have venomous species in Illinois? Find out at this one day camp!
  • April 15th: Spring Has SprungSpring has arrived! Search for evidence of spring through nature exploration and games.

Kids Night Out – Need an evening off? Join us for a Kids Night Out! This 3 hour drop off program includes dinner and an evening of fun for ages 6 – 10. This program is offered every other month on a Friday evening. Spaces are limited. See below for a description of our upcoming Kids Night Out. 

  • December 10th, 5 – 8 pm: Forbidden TreksThis Kids Night Out is offered to ages 10 – 14. Join TNI after dark for a night of adventures. Hike off trail to explore forbidden routes and learn about animals that are the exceptions to the rules of the animal kingdom. Eat popsicles in December. It’s time to let the (bigger) kids have a night out!
  • April 22nd, 5 – 8 pm: Earth Day Party (ages 6-10) Celebrate the Earth at TNI! Join in the festivities with cool experiments, messy art, and get out in nature to hike!
  • May 13th, 5 – 8 pm: Survive! (ages 6-10) – Do you have what it takes to survive out in the wild? Build a shelter, construct a fire, and learn about animal survival tactics.

Scout Badge Days – Bring your troop out to complete a badge in one swoop! Or bring your kids out to learn a fun activity. Scouts are welcome to join with their entire troop or as individuals. See below for a description of our upcoming Scout Badge Days.