BROOKSVALE PARK SCHOOL PROGRAMS

 Programs are approximately an hour and a half long and limited to 24 students at one time.  For further information or to request a program, please call 203-287-2669 or email the Park Ranger at brooksvale@hamden.com.

 Nature Education Programs are offered to Hamden Schools FREE of charge.

Non-Hamden schools/groups – fee is $5.00 per child.

 SEPTEMBER

 Brooksvale Farm And Garden

GRADE 2 – Balancing and Weighing

A tour of Brooksvale Farm and Garden shows children the importance of farming and the hard work that goes into farm animal care, plant propagation, and composting.  A focus on community teaches the children about the transfer of energy through food chains as it passes from the sun to producers, consumers and decomposers. They see how materials are recycled and returned to the system to be reused by green plants as they grow and produce more food for other living things.  As the program continues, the children learn that life on a farm is not all work and no play by participating in a series of fun barnyard games.

 Stop, Look and Listen to Birds

GRADE 1 – Weather, Data Collection

Children learn to appreciate birds through different sensory exercises.  As bird models fly across the room, children become accomplished bird watchers using field characteristics as clues for identifying birds.  They also explore bird communication by learning to identify birds by sound.  At the end of the program, children follow a scent trail to discover how a keen sense of smell helps turkey vultures be such successful scavengers.

OCTOBER

 TREEmendous

KINDERGARTEN – Trees, Leaves

Children recognize trees as an important natural resource and understand how a tree works by learning about the structure and function of its parts.  They discover that they can uncover the life story of a tree by reading its growth rings.  Children learn to appreciate differences in morphology as they measure and identify trees and also participate in a tactile challenge and a leaf race.

 Focus On Fall

KINDERGARTEN – Trees, Leaves; GRADE 3 - Plant Growth and Development

Children study the reasons for seasons and learn about the changes that take place during fall as plants and animals prepare for tough times ahead. Children gain hands-on experience with animal preparations for winter by comparing the fur of different animals and testing the importance of fat as an insulator.  They discover why leaves change color and fall to the ground and recognize that seeds play a critical role in winter survival. Children have fun exploring seed dispersal by examining a variety of seeds and playing with models that illustrate how seeds are packaged in different ways for transport by wind, water and animals.

 Buzz On Bees

GRADE 3 - Plant Growth and Development; GRADE 6 – Experiments with Plants

This program examines the world of honey bees through investigation and inspection of Brooksvale’s observation hive.  It begins with a study of the bee’s anatomy and life cycle before exploring the social structure of a colony.  Fun activities allow the children to experience a bee’s life as they take on different roles within the hive.  As they learn how honey is made, children develop strong appreciation for the bee’s importance as a pollinator.  The program caps off with a special tour of the apiary led by Brooksvale’s beekeeper who provides detailed information about honey production and a direct understanding of the fascinating lives of bees.

NOVEMBER

 Water Planet

GRADE 4 – Land and Water

Children develop an understanding of the distribution of water and learn that water cycling throughout Earth’s systems is a finite resource.  They create a river model that speeds up time to show thousands of years of change in seconds.  They see how water shapes the landscape through erosion and connects communities by watersheds.  They identify river features and learn about the far-reaching impact of non-point and point source pollution. 

 Nocturnal Animals

GRADE 5 – Physics, Eye, also Ear, Vibration, Sound, Earth, Sun, Moon

Children are introduced to nocturnal animals, creatures that are active at night.  They learn about the advantages of being nocturnal and explore the amazing senses that allow animals to live in the dark. A series of role-playing activities that showcase nocturnal adaptations, give children a glimpse into the lives of bats, owls and other nighttime creatures.

DECEMBER

 Animal Adaptations For Survival

GRADE 3 – Adaptations, Plant and Animal

Children examine animal adaptations for survival through fun, hands-on experiences. They explore the dietary needs of animals by taking a close look at skulls and learn how an animal is adapted or designed to eat the food that it eats.  Children are introduced to the terms, herbivore, carnivore and omnivore.    Follow up role-playing activities take the children to a special grocery store just for wildlife and challenge them to compete against the best of the animal world in a series of contests.  The program finishes up at the Farm where the children apply what they have learned as they observe adaptations in the farm animals.

 Wildlife Detectives

GRADE 1 – Comparing and Measuring

Children follow a trail of animal clues as they are challenged to identify mystery animals in the woods.  They discover that tracks and wildlife signs are evidence that reveal the presence of animals even when the creatures have not been spotted.  The program offers an introduction to tracking and gives the children an opportunity to examine different nature artifacts that help identify wild animals and provide information about an animal’s interactions with its environment.

JANUARY

 Habitat Has It

KINDERGARTEN – Shelter, Habitat

Children discover the importance of habitat to plants and animals. They learn that living things rely on nonliving components of the environment for survival. Students realize that they can improve conditions for living things if they carefully consider specific habitat needs. Children see that they can make a difference and be positive instruments of change.

 Living In Water

GRADE 2 - Changes, Properties

Children conduct a series of water experiments that help them appreciate how the characteristics and properties of water affect aquatic life.  They learn about different types of water pollution and their influence on stream inhabitants as they follow the adventures of a young fish on his journey downstream through areas impacted by development.

FEBRUARY

 Maple Sugaring

GRADE 4 – Social Studies/Science

The maple sugaring program introduces students to the history and science behind this ancient craft.  Native American legends about the discovery of maple sugaring are presented and exhibits, artifacts and hands-on activities illustrate the changing role of technology in maple syrup production.  Children visit a maple grove and Brooksvale’s sugar shack to better understand the process from sap to syrup.

MARCH

 Dig Deep

GRADE 3 – Rocks and Minerals

Children gain a geological overview of landscape change through a series of hands-on earth science lessons.  They learn about Earth’s structure and the relationship between its surface and the inside layers.  Children discover that the Earth’s crust, composed of rocks and minerals, is reshaped slightly every day.  Plate tectonics builds up the crust while weathering and erosion break it down.  Children examine the characteristics of rocks and minerals and search for samples of their own.

 Animal Communication

GRADE 5 - Ear, Vibration, Sound

Students recognize that animals communicate using a wide range of signs and sounds.  Learning to interpret these cues helps the children behave appropriately and respectfully towards animals.  A focus on animal defense strategies reveals how animals use communication to avoid confrontations with predators 

 Reading The Landscape

GRADE 6 – Ecosystems

By learning to read the landscape, children see how topography, natural processes and human factors influence landscape composition.  Children become nature detectives as they look for hidden signs in the forest that reveal its secret past. They recognize that scars on tall trees, decaying stumps and dilapidated stonewalls are all clues to a forest’s history.  Children explore forest dynamics by following the developmental stages of old-field succession and gain an appreciation for the interdependence of abiotic and biotic components of forest ecosystems by looking closely at forest layers. This program helps children understand how people can make a difference through environmental stewardship and natural resource management.

APRIL

 Beautiful Butterflies

GRADE 2 – Life Cycles, Butterflies

Children learn what makes a butterfly a butterfly by examining the parts of a butterfly and its life cycle.  They recognize that butterflies are important pollinators as they take part in a wildlife garden scavenger hunt that teaches them about the habitat needs of butterflies.  After learning about butterfly defenses, children take part in a game of butterfly tag that shows them how plants, pollinators and predators interact.  The children discover butterfly coping strategies for winter and become migrating monarch butterflies overcoming many challenges on their long journey to Mexico.  When they reach the North field, students search for butterflies, try to identify them and closely observe their behavior. 

 It’s Finally Spring

GRADE 1 – Organisms, Pillbugs/Crickets

Now that spring is finally here, nature is bursting with activity and busy preparing for the next generation of plants and animals.   It’s noisy out there with birds singing loudly and amphibians on the move to breeding pools calling out to let us know it really is spring.  In this program, children explore the changes around them that signal the coming of spring.  They help replant Brooksvale’s Farm Garden and head to the woods in search of forest floor critters starting to move about after a cold winter.

MAY

 Pond Life

KINDERGARTEN – Tadpoles

Children discover the hidden life within a pond by sampling different aquatic habitats with nets and carefully observing pond creatures in a touch tank to better understand their special adaptations to a watery existence.  Children learn that some animals start their lives out in water even though they may not live there as adults and that many go through a series of life changes called metamorphosis. 

Wiley Weasels

GRADE 4 – Force, Motion

Children study the weasel family and discover that every aspect of a mustelid’s body and behavior is adapted for hunting.  They learn that at high speeds, members of the weasel family move much like accordions as they bound across the landscape.  Children continue their exploration of mustelid movement by experimenting with Slinkys as models for bounding weasels.  Students then head out into the woods to visit spots where weasels are known to hunt.  A line of live traps set for unsuspecting small mammals gives children an opportunity to catch, observe and safely release some animals that a weasel might consider prey. 

JUNE

 Farmington Canal Then And Now

GRADES 3, 4 AND 5 – Social Studies/Science

Brooksvale Park is adjacent to an amazing greenway, The Farmington Canal, that connects communities along its path much as it did in the 1800’s when it served as a transportation channel linking Long Island Sound to inland areas.  Children trace the Farmington Canal back in time to explore landscape development and its impact on people and nature.   By mapping the history of the Farmington Canal, children appreciate its importance through time and how it evolved into today’s linear park, a recreational, educational, social and environmental resource for all to enjoy.   The program concludes with a greenway walk that encourages the children to search for signs of the past and to appreciate all that the canal has to offer today.

 Wetland Wonders

GRADE 6 – Protecting Our Water Resources

Children learn about the characteristics of wetlands and their importance to humans and wildlife.  They discover that wetlands once were viewed as wastelands but now are considered valuable resources in need of protection.  Children examine threats to wetlands and then conduct surveys of water areas in Brooksvale Park to assess system health.

Additional programs are available on a variety of different topics especially pertaining to wildlife (beavers, wild turkeys, deer, owls etc.).  Please contact us for information about other program possibilities.