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  • Location:
    Brookside Nature Center
    Wheaton Regional Park
    1400 Glenallen Ave.
    Wheaton, Maryland 20902
    Directions and Map

  • Hours of Operation:
    Tuesday through Saturday
    9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    Sundays
    1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
    Closed Mondays and major
    holidays

  • Contacts:
    Phone: 301-962-1480
    Fax: 301-962-8476

Group Programs

Brookside Nature Center provides a tremendous variety of programs and experiences for students of all ages. Our goal is to excite students through experiential environmental education programs, developing along the way a sense of responsibility towards our natural and historical resources. Programs vary in length (45 min. to 1.5 hours), and are tailored to each group's educational level and interests.

The basic cost for most programs is $50 for up to 10 students. Additional attendees will be charged $5/child. We appreciate good chaperones and allow 1 free chaperone for every 5 children. Additional chaperones will be charged $5. Some programs require an additional fee - Apple Cider Pressing, Pioneer Life and any request for a puppet show will be an additional $1/child.

Natural Discoveries: Pre-School Eco - Explorations - 1 hour

Pre-school programs are experiential and are designed for children to use their senses as they explore the habitats of Brookside Nature Center throughout the seasons. Each season brings exciting and unique changes to the natural world. A hike through the habitats will reveal the natural wonders of the season. Programs can be taken individually but coming to Brookside Nature Center more than once is a good way to learn about seasonal changes. Programs can be modified to meet specific teaching goals such as focusing on mammals, insects, or birds.

Grades K-5 : 1 to 1.5 Hour Nature & Early Life in Montgomery County Experiences

Our program offerings follow MCPS curriculum requirements and encourage vocabulary and language development. Programs can be tailored to meet your teaching needs – whether your class requires engagement, exploration or expanded learning about the natural world around us. Each program is led by an experienced naturalist and includes a guided discussion followed by firsthand observations and hands-on activities outside.  Students must come dressed for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Seasonal Programs - 1 Hour

Maple Sugaring and Apple Cider Pressing have been seasonal activities in North America for centuries! These hands-on programs allow students to learn about the historical relationships between humans and trees in a tasty fashion.

PRE-SCHOOL - K: NATURAL DISCOVERIES


ANIMAL HOMES
Discover where and why animals select their habitats and build their shelters. Learn the basic needs of animals--food, cover, water and a safe place to raise young.
Grade level: pre-K - Kindergarten
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment: Survival strategies; Habitats; Ecosystems

PRE-SCHOOL EXPLORATIONS
EXPLORING FALL
Autumn is a wonderful time to be in the woods. It is a time for plants and animals to prepare for winter. Students will look for evidence of change and learn about the changes they observe. Why do leaves fall? What are animals doing?

EXPLORING WINTER
Winter is a wonderful time to "sense" the trails! Things look, smell, and sound different. Students will learn about how plants and animals survive the cold. They will look for the animals still active in the park. Bundle up and enjoy this seasonal program!

EXPLORING SPRING
It's alive! Students will use their senses to explore life emerging from winter. Buds, blossoms, bees, babies!
Grade level: PK-K
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment: Survival strategies; Habitats; Ecosystems

SEASONS & SENSES
Identify and compare your five senses.  Examine the natural world through sensory awareness investigations.  Each activity engages a different sense as we explore field and forest.
Grade level:PK-K
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment:

WOODSY HUNT
Look what I found!  With live animals and a hike, examine the plants and animals that live in the forest.
Grade level: PK-K
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment:

K-5: Nature & Early Life in Montgomery County Experiences

DISCOVERING  WILDLIFE

MAMMALS OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY
Large ears, wet noses, and glowing eyes are some adaptations of our wild mammal neighbors.  Categorize and examine mammals through their skulls, skins, and tracks.  Explore the woods and meadows for animal signs such as scat, dens, and feeding areas.
Grade level: K-5
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment: Identification and Classification of life forms; Adaptations for survival; Features of Plants & Animals; Habitats; Growth & Survival;

FEATHERED FRIENDS
Discover what makes birds unique. Learn to identify local birds by sight and sound, and discover their amazing adaptations. Observe birds that visit our feeders, and head outside with a pair of our binoculars to search for birds in different habitats. We’ll explore the seasonal lives of birds, from migration to just staying put!
Grade level: K-5 
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment: Identification and Classification of life forms; Adaptations for survival; Features of Plants & Animals; Habitats; Growth & Survival; Ecosystems

REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS
Learn about the world of amphibians and reptiles with a seasonal emphasis. Explore the different life cycles and adaptations and meet some of our live animals.
Grade level: K-5
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment: Identification and Classification of life forms; Adaptations for survival; Features of Plants & Animals; Habitats; Growth & Survival;

ANIMAL TRACKS & TRACES
Students become nature detectives as they study the habits and behavior of local wildlife.  On a hike through the woods and fields of the park, analyze clues like tracks, scat, nests, food, and other evidence the animals leave behind.
Grade level: K-5
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment: Identification and Classification of life forms; Adaptations for survival; Features of Plants & Animals; Habitats; Growth & Survival;

ECOLOGY

HABITATS
All living creatures need food, water, shelter and space. Students will investigate the four elements of a good habitat. Find out how human beings affect and are affected by natural habitats. Learn what we can do to protect the ‘homes’ of our wildlife neighbors. Explore several outdoor habitats and look for signs of the animals that live there.
Grade level: K-4
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment: Survival strategies; Human actions and the environment; Habitats; Natural resources and human needs; Ecosystems

INSECTS

GETTING TO KNOW INSECTS
What makes an insect an insect?  Learn about the largest and most diverse group of animals.  Examine characteristics, life cycles, and adaptations of insects.  Through field explorations, identify what’s hopping, crawling, and flying in the park.
Grade level: K-5
Available: September, April - June
MCPS Alignment: Life Cycles; Survival Strategies; Identification & Classification of life forms; Features of Plants & Animals; Habitats; Growth & Survival; Ecosystems

MEET THE HONEYBEES
One of the most delicious products we get from insects is honey. Learn how bees pollinate flowers that make the fruits and vegetables and nuts we all enjoy. Observe a live honeybee hive and identify and appreciate the different jobs bees have in a colony.
Grade level: PK-5
Available: April - October
MCPS Alignment: Life Cycles; Survival Strategies; Identification & Classification of life forms; Features of Plants & Animals; Habitats; Growth & Survival

BUTTERFLIES
Butterflies are a wonderful example of life cycle change. Identify nectar plants, butterfly life stages, and behavior patterns. Activities include gentle catch/release using butterfly nets.
Grade level: PK-5
Available: Brookside, May-Sept; Meadowside, April-mid-Oct.
MCPS Alignment: Life Cycles; Survival Strategies; Identification & Classification of life forms; Features of Plants & Animals; Habitats; Growth & Survival

PLANTS

TREES ARE TERRIFIC
Learn about the parts of a tree and how they work.  In an outdoor exploration, examine the forest community, identify some common trees, determine the importance of trees, and observe wildlife that lives there.
Grade level: K-5
Available:  Spring or Fall
MCPS Alignment:

HOW SEEDS TRAVEL
Seeds are packages of new plants that come in an amazing assortment of shapes, sizes, and textures.  Discover the many ways seeds get from here to there and the value seeds hold in nature.
Grade level: 1-3
Available: September - December
MCPS Alignment:

WATERSHED

LIFE IN A STREAM
Discover our local watershed—where the water comes from and where it goes!  Then wade through the stream in search of crayfish and other stream critters.  Adaptations, food webs, and stream cleanliness highlight our discussion as we look at what we found.  Wear shoes that can get wet.
Grade level: K-5
Available: May – mid-October
MCPS Alignment: Survival strategies; Human actions and the environment; Habitats; Natural resources and human needs; Ecosystems

EXPLORE A POND
Learn about the water cycle and the wet world of water!  Using dip nets and other tools, wade along the shore locating pond creatures. We’ll discuss pond life adaptations and food webs during examination of our discoveries.  Wear shoes that can get wet.
Grade level: K-5
Available: mid-May – mid-October
MCPS Alignment: Survival strategies; Human actions and the environment; Habitats; Natural resources and human needs; Ecosystems

GEOLOGY & THE EARTH
Learn about what’s hidden under your feet and identify and classify rocks and earth materials such as sand, silt, and soil by their physical properties. Through outdoor exploration, find out the importance of earth materials to people, plant and animals. Learn how geology affects the shape of hills, valleys and water features.
Grade level: 1-3
Available: Year-Round
MCPS Alignment:

WEATHER

WEATHER WATCHERS
Through stories and games, students learn what makes weather and how the water cycle works.  On an outdoor hike, students will interpret signs of weather like sun, wind, precipitation and clouds and discover how weather affects plants, animals, people and the landscape we live in.
Grade level: K-3
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment:

CHANGING SEASONS
Fall, winter, spring, and summer—each season has its own blend of natural events.  After an interactive introduction that compares and contrasts the characteristics of each season, we’ll go outdoors and search for  signs of the season and learn about the many ways people, plants, and animals are affected and adapt to seasonal change.
Grade level: K-3
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment:

PEOPLE AND PLACES  

MAPLE SUGARING
When the days are turning warm and the nights are crystal cold, it’s maple sugaring time! Syrup making has been a late-winter activity in North America for centuries. In this program students learn about the important historical relationship people have with maple trees and follow the production of maple syrup by practicing drilling a tree, observing sap flow, watching the boiling process, and tasting the finished product. Students will learn about the role of sap in the life of a tree as they practice identifying maple trees and learn about the physiology and anatomy of trees.
Grade level: All ages
Available: Late January to Early March – weather permitting
MCPS Alignment:

APPLE CIDER PRESSING
Join us as we put the squeeze on some apples! Learn the history of apples in America. Discover the art of cider making and try a taste of this traditional American drink.
Grade level: All ages
Available: September – Mid-November
MCPS Alignment:

PIONEER LIFE AT BROOKSIDE
Experience life in the mid-1800’s. Visit and explore our 1870’s log cabin to compare our lifestyle with those of early settlers.  Compare differences between past and current architecture, tools, clothing and furniture, and technologies for cooking, heating and lighting. Experience a pioneer child’s daily chores and games! Ask about our candle making option.
Grade level: 1-5
Available: Late March - November
MCPS Alignment:

NATIVE WAYS
Students experience the daily life of Eastern Woodland Indians as they lived in our area over 1,000 years ago. We will explore where they found shelter, how they prepared food, what they wore, and children’s roles. We’ll discover the importance of certain plants and animals, and how deeply the Woodland Indians were connected to the natural world. Learn how they obtained tools, clothing and food from plants, animals, bones and stones.
Grade level: 1-4
Available: Year-round
MCPS Alignment: People and Objects of today & long ago; Natural resources and human needs; Native Americans in our area

OUTREACH

If you can’t come to us – it’s possible for us to come to you! Call for details.