School Program Menu
School Program Menu
Discover the abundance and diversity of life in urban woodlands with a field trip to Hidden Oaks Nature Center, nestled in Annandale District Park, just minutes inside the Beltway in Annandale. Parking is at 7701 Royce Street Annandale. Note that buses may drop off and pick up students at this address but must park in our satellite lot at 4020 Hummer Road in Annandale District Park.
Naturalists tailor all programs to the age of the participants so all programs are appropriate for any class of students ages 3-10 years. Class visits may be scheduled with a minimum of 15 students. Programs may be scheduled for under 15 students, but the fee for 15 attendees will be charged. The 15 student fee minimum applies to reduced attendance due to absenteeism.
For groups over 75 students, special arrangements can be made to divide the presentations over a two to three hour block of time with teachers assisting by leading scavenger hunt trail activities provided by the nature center.
All programs are available Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings (start time: 10am) and Wednesday afternoons (start time: 1pm). For trail walks, groups will be divided into approximately 15 students. Trail walks will be cancelled in the case of inclement weather. Out-of-county schools are assessed an additional $1 per child fee.
Preschool and kindergarten programs are 60 minutes; first grade and above programs are 90 minutes. At the kindergarten teacher's discretion, this grade level can have a 90-minute presentation. Grades 1 and above can select an hour program but the material will be less comprehensive. Unless otherwise noted, the fee for a 60 minute program is $4 per child and 90 minute program is $6 per child. There is no charge for teachers. Parent chaperones who are in the classroom with the students are charged the student fee. Siblings should remain in the exhibit area with a parent. No fee is charged for nonparticipating parents or siblings.
All programs are offered September through mid-June, unless noted. In some cases, the off-season classes may be available with a revised presentation. In all of our programs we emphasize safety around wildlife and nature. We identify poison ivy as well as potentially hazardous animals including Northern Virginia's only venomous snake, the northern copperhead, which we have on display. Naturalists lead visitors in exploring ways to be good neighbors to wildlife by making informed decisions in wild places or when seeing wild creatures. We look forward to sharing the joy of nature and discovery of our cultural history with your students!
Specialty Programs $6 per Child Fee
1. Eastern Woodland Indians of the early 1600s: A Child's
Study the life of a young Eastern Woodland Indian in the time of the first settlement of Jamestown. We'll compare a child's life of today with a child's experience then and discuss how the Jamestown settlement changed the Powhatan's life forever. Through playing games, making clay pots and enjoying oral myths, naturalists lead an exploration of the indigenous culture. We'll walk the trails (weather permitting) with an eye to Native Americans' uses of plants and animals and their knowledge of how to stay safe in the woods. View a typical Powhatan garden and, time permitting, children may sit in the scarecrow hut and try to warn off (stuffed) animals nibbling at the garden's edge. Program includes an indoor presentation, trail walk and craft. $6 per child. SOLs addressed for K-4: Science K.1, K.6, K.8- K.10, 1.8 HSS. K.1, K.2, K.3, K.6, 1.1, 1.2, 1.11, 2.2, 2.3, 3.2, 3.3, 3.13, 4.1
2. Growth and Change: Plants and Animals
Our most popular spring program! Growing and changing is something each of us does every day, but complete metamorphosis is common for few creatures other than insects and certain amphibians. From bees to butterflies, the growth from egg to adult fills us all with a child-like sense of wonder. The growth from seed to plant is also an amazing transformation. Children will plant a seed to nurture at home or school, and thrill to releasing their own ladybugs during programs April-June into the wildflower garden or woodland. For programs scheduled Sept.-March, teachers may pick up live ladybugs to release at their school in late spring. An exhibit tour will highlight the growth processes of plants and animals. $6 per child. The SOLs addressed include Science K.1, K.6, K. 8-10, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.7,1.8, 2.4, 2.5, 2.8, 3.4, 3.5, 3.7, 3.8, 3.10. 4.5.
3. Natural History Programs : $6 for 90 minutes, $4 for 60
A Real Bug's Life or There is No Such Thing as Can't to an Ant
Students enjoy an entertaining look at the life of insects with a special focus on ants and, in season, butterflies. Compare and contrast will include insect orders, habitats, feeding styles and social versus solitary living. Through the use of live insects, specimens and catch and release, students will explore the diversity of insects in urban woodland and the importance of insects to other animals as well as plants. Note: For third grade we will include a discussion of butterflies and use specimens to demonstrate their life cycle. Live butterflies will be used when available. The exhibit tour will focus on the role of insects in the food web; the trail walk will be an insect safari. SOLs addressed include Science K.1, K.6, K.8, K.9, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 2.4, 2.5, 2.7, 3.4, 3.5, 3.8, 3.10
4. Animal Adaptations: Astounding Woodland
Animals compete for food, shelter, territory, mates and more with members of their own and other species. Hands-on activities will help children explore different animal adaptations and discover some of their own. We'll experiment to see which work best! Learn whether the featured animal is a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore. The program usually is conducted along the trail, but in inclement weather we will be inside the classroom. The SOLs addressed include Science. K.1, K.2, K.4, K.6, K.8, K.9, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 2.4, 2.5, 2.7, 3.4, 3.5, 3.8, 3.10, 4.5, 4.8.
5. Metamorphosing Marvels: Choose either Monarch Butterflies,
Ladybugs or Amphibians
We investigate the fascinating metamorphosis from tadpole to frog or larvae to adult for monarch butterflies or ladybugs featuring live insects and tadpoles depending on the season. Monarch butterflies are available only into early October although, with specimens and video of the Mexican monarch sanctuaries, we can provide insight year round. We will also review how to safely and humanely raise these animals in a classroom setting. We'll explore these creatures' life cycle, habitat and roles in the environment. Naturalists lead children in discovering the wonders of both incomplete and complete metamorphosis. All programs feature live native animals. SOLs addressed include Science K.1, K.6, K.8, K.9, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 2.4, 2.5, 2.7, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.8, 3.10, 4.5.
6. What's the Wildlife in Your Neighborhood?
How do we know that wildlife from opossums to insects to reptiles and more live in our backyards, parks and streams when we rarely see them? We know by the evidence they leave behind. Many animals stay out of sight by their camouflaged coloration or by the time of day they are active. Your students will discover the wild ways of our furry, feathered and scaled neighbors through a puppet show, song and nature hike where we look for evidence of animals, weather permitting. Naturalists will extend the learning with live and preserved native animals. The SOLs addressed include Science. K.1, K.2, K.4, K.6, K.8, K.9, 1.4, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 2.5, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.8, 3.10, 4.5, 4.8.
7. Getting Ready for Winter: Plants and Animals
Coping with the challenge of seasonal changes is handled in varying ways by different plant and animal species. Discover why leaves change color and why some animals are busy while others migrate, hibernate or go into torpor. Learn the effects of the changing seasons through live animal presentations, a puppet show, discussions, exhibit viewing and, weather permitting, a trail walk. Naturalists will stress safety when encountering animals and plants in the woods as well as in students' own backyards. SOLs addressed for K-3: K.1, K.6, K.8, K.9, 1.4, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 2.5, 2.7, 2.8, 3.1, 3.4, 3.5, 3.8, and 3.10.
8. Spring changes: Plants and Animals
Spring is a season for growing. Learn about nature's changes as plants and animals emerge from winter's slumber. Many birds are migrating back to our woods to start families. Spring babies abound. Learn the effects of the changing seasons through live animal presentations, a puppet show, discussions, exhibit viewing and, weather permitting, a trail walk. Naturalists will stress safety when encountering animals and plants in the woods as well as in students' own backyards. SOLs addressed for K-3: K.1, K.6, K.8, K.9, 1.4, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 2.5, 2.7, 2.8, 3.1, 3.4, 3.5, 3.8, and 3.10.
9. Critters of the Forest: Worms, Turtles and More
Children often ask, €œWhere are all the animals?" when they join us for a walk along the Old Oak Trail. Most of the life in the forest is at or under our feet. Join us in exploring the floor and underground habitat of an urban woodland as we search for insects, slugs plus many more creatures that depend on this zone for their food, shelter and water. During the classroom portion of our program your students will enjoy a puppet show that provides insights into a worm's life and the animals that share its world. Students meet up close some vertebrate wildlife (reptiles and amphibians) of Fairfax County that depend on worms as part of their diet and peek into a rotting log for the marvels of decomposition. From worms to millipedes we will discover animals with no legs to those with hundreds! Using discussion, investigation, puppet show, song and live and preserved animals, your students will learn of the amazing biodiversity as they join a naturalist in an invertebrate safari. SOLs addressed: Science K.1, K.6, K.8, K.9, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 2.4, 2.5, 2.7, 3.4-8, 3.10, 4.5.
10. Tales of Scales: Life of Reptiles
Discover the fascinating adaptations of several of our local reptiles. Through the use of live animals and specimens, naturalists will enable the children to get an up close look at these common, but rarely seen, creatures. We'll separate fact from fiction as we explore snakes' and turtles' niches in our environment. The program will include an indoor presentation with a tour of the live animal exhibits. Note: The second grade program will focus on the interdependence of animals, the food web and the difference between carnivore, omnivore and herbivore. Weather and time permitting, an outdoor trail walk will be included. SOLs addressed include Science K.1, K.4, K.6, K.8, K.9, 1.4, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 2.4, 2.7, 3.4-6.
11. That Makes Sense!
Through interactive games and looking at live and preserved animals, we'll explore our five senses and compare them to those of wildlife. Prepared to be surprised at how your nose stacks up compared to a fox's and why an owl is called a flying tiger of the night. Groups of 20 or less enjoy a fun game of sound bingo as we use our ears to identify different animal sounds. Larger groups listen to and identify a variety of wildlife calls. Enjoy popcorn as we revel in all our senses in this engaging program. SOLs addressed include Science K.1, K.2
12. Roots, Shoots Blooms and Buds: 4th grade and
Grades 4 and above learn plant anatomy and life processes through a flower dissection. Plant reproduction, seeds, photosynthesis, plant dormancy and pollination are explored in the classroom, in the exhibit area and along the trail. Fifth graders will also compare and contrast vascular and nonvascular plants. Your students will become junior botanists as they discover the mysteries of plants! SOLs addressed include Science 4.4.
13. Stones and Bones
Rocks rock! Your students will enjoy learning about the rock cycle as they handle different types of rocks. They'll explore how minerals are essential to daily life in many activities ranging from brushing teeth to sketching with a pencil to commuting to school. Students will investigate and handle real fossils and learn how plants and dinosaurs bones become fossilized evidence of the past. We'll touch on the importance of conserving our natural resources. The trail walk will highlight renewable and nonrenewable natural resources, and the importance of rocks and soil in urban woodland. SOLs addressed include Science 1.3, 2.3, 3.9. 4.8
Especially for Fourth Grade Ecosystem Study
The Ground You Walk On: Introduction to Va. Minerals and Geology: (Lessons 2, 8) Explore the natural mineral resources and their use plus the importance and variety of soils, rocks and the influences of human activity on an ecosystem. Trail walk includes a review of erosion and forest type. Science SOL/Program: 4.1 (a), 4.8 (a, d)
We All Live Downstream: (Lesson 3) Through interactive activities and trail walks, unfold the mysteries of what is a watershed, how the way we live in Virginia affects the Chesapeake Bay and beyond and why students and their f amilies should care. Students learn how to determine their watershed address and meet live native reptiles and amphibians which depend upon a healthy watershed to survive. SOL/Program: 4.1 (a), 4.8 (a)
We're All Tied Together Where We Live: (Lessons 4, 7) Discover what makes a habitat for a variety of Virginia's plant and animals. On the trail walk explore a variety of habitats and decipher evidence. Science SOL/Program: 4.5 (c, d), 4.8 (b)
Animal and Plant Adaptations: We've Got What It Takes! During this largely outdoor program, naturalist-led student groups visit trailside stations highlighting squirrel, bird, insect, amphibian and plants, comparing and contrasting behavioral and structural adaptations. Naturalists review life cycle niches, plant dormancy and animal defense strategies using live animals and specimens. Science SOL/Program: 4.4 (d), 4.5 (a, d, e), 4.8(d)