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Nature Education for Homeschool Students and Teachers (NEHST)

Nature Education for Homeschool Students and Teachers (NEHST) curriculum is divided into 3 semesters – Autumn, Winter and Spring. Each semester includes 3 monthly lessons that build upon the semester’s theme. The monthly lessons are offered on the third Thursday of every month from 10:00am – 1:30pm.  Lessons begin with the Autumn Semester on September 17, 2020 and continue until the end of the Spring Semester on May 21, 2021. 

Each monthly lesson includes classroom instruction, outdoor activities, scientific experiments and exploration, and related at-home extension activities that can be completed and explored together by the whole family.  We use hands-on methods to reinforce students’ abilities in not only science, but also math, language arts, and social studies. 

During the lessons students ages 5-13+ and parents are taught together emphasizing multi-age learning and peer assistantship.  Students experiencing a lesson for the first time learn the basics of the topic, and students with some previous experience build upon their knowledge and solidify their understanding through more in-depth exposure to the topic. 

2020-2021 At-Home Curriculum Alternative

Good news! In addition to our in-person lessons, each semester, we are also offering a NEHST Activity Pack for those who prefer a completely at-home learning experience and/or wish to supplement their in-person learning experience. Each NEHST Activity Pack is packed with everything you’ll need to explore each semester’s theme, including at least 10 hands-on science activities and experiments, places to go, and/or things to do and access to our virtual Branching Activities Bitmoji Learning Space with additional interactive learning activities and videos.

NEHST Activity Packs are available for curbside pick-up at The Wetlands Institute or mail-order delivery to your door the Thursday following the first in-person lesson of each semester. Each Activity Pack is $45 (curbside pick-up) or $60 (mail-order delivery). Advanced registration is required. Please call (609) 368-1211 to register no later than the second program date of each semester. Payment is required in full at the time of registration and payment is nonrefundable.

Autumn Semester NEHST Activity Pack
Registration Deadline: Thursday, October 15
Curbside Pick-up and/or Mail Drop-off Date: Thursday, October 22

Winter Semester NEHST Activity Pack
Registration Deadline:
Thursday, January 21
Curbside Pick-up and/or Mail Drop-off Date: Friday, January 29

Spring Semester NEHST Activity Pack
Registration Deadline:
Thursday, April 15
Curbside Pick-up and/or Mail Drop-off Date: Friday, April 23

2020-2021 In-Person Monthly Curriculum

Autumn Semester: Where the Water Flows


Thursday, September 17
Topic: The Ways of Water
Location: TWI
Splish and splash away with fun watery discoveries about the ups and downs, back and forth, cycles and currents. We’ll whet our curiosity and jump into watery ways with both feet. 

Thursday, October 15
Topic: From Winding Rivers to the Estuary
Location: Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area and Beesley’s Point
Out in the field, along the river and the top of the estuary we will start our exploration of a watershed in action. Doing the work of limnologists and oceanographers, we’ll start pulling together the big picture of how the water changes the land and how the land changes the water.

Thursday, November 19
Topic: And Down to the Sea
Location: Corson’s Inlet State Park
During this fieldwork day we will being exploring the mouth of an estuary and tracking the changes as water flows to the sea, so bring your scientist’s eyes, ears, and other senses for this one! We’ll need everyone to analyze our data to find what the major mystery change in the water has been all along the way, the one factor that changes the land and the wildlife “where the water flows”.

Winter Semester: Adaptations for Survival


Thursday, December 17
Topic: Living in Water
Location: The Wetlands Institute
The way an animal looks, whether it has fur or scales, siphons or large teeth, claws or fins, helps it survive in a particular habitat. We’ll be examining a variety of live animals and animal artifacts, looking for clues as to how they protect and defend themselves; how they find, catch, and eat their food; how they see and sense the world around them; how they get from one place to the next – or not; and how they reproduce and raise their young.

Thursday, January 21
Topic: Adapting to Winter
Location: The Wetlands Institute
How do you get ready for winter? How do you survive the icy chill? Animals and plants have many different ways of dealing with the cold. We’ll be experimenting with keeping warm and thinking about what it must be like to hibernate through until spring or migrate hundreds of miles to escape the frosty season.

Thursday, February 18
Topic: What Color is Nature?
Location: The Wetlands Institute
It’s more than just green trees, blue sky and muddy browns. Colors, displays, and color changes play several critical roles in the survival of wildlife: warning, hiding, attracting attention, communication, and many more. Let’s find examples and try some experiments with color in nature.

Spring Semester: Habits of a Habitat


Thursday, March 18
Topic: Have to Have a Habitat
Location: The Wetlands Institute
The saltmarsh is an environment. It’s also an ecosystem that has habitats for many organisms. The environment, ecosystem, and habitat are where all living things get their basics needs to live and thrive. However, the terms are really very different. Let’s dive in and explore the wonderful connections of habitats, ecosystems. and environments that we all depend on.

Thursday, April 15
Topic: Nature I Spy
Location: Cox Hall Creek
To find out all they can about plants and animals, the lives they live, and their connections to their habitats, scientists use all kinds of equipment like scopes, binoculars, and magnifiers to “spy” on nature’s comings and goings. We’ll get our “detective eyes” working for tracking wildlife’s wild life.

Thursday, May 20
Topic: Mini Beasts Safari
Location: Cape May Point State Park
While the huge, large, and even the medium “beasts” get all the attention, they owe their lives, their very survival to the little, small, and tiny creatures in the air, on the soil, and under the water. Let’s go on a safari hunt to find some wild mini beasties in a variety of ecosystems and learn about their important connections to the “giants”.

Discounted Semester Pricing:  Each semester includes 3-monthly, 3-hour lessons and costs $36/per participating student.  Advanced registration is required. Please call (609) 368-1211 to register at least 48 hours in advance. Payment is required in full at the time of registration and payment is nonrefundable. Monthly lessons will not be cancelled due to low enrollment, but may be rescheduled due to inclement weather. 

Regular Monthly Pricing:  Although each lesson tends to build on its predecessors, you can pick and choose the monthly lessons best suited to your child. The price of each monthly 3-hour lesson is $15/per participating student.  Advanced registration is required. Please call (609) 368-1211 to register at least 48 hours in advance. Payment is required in full at the time of registration and payment is nonrefundable. Monthly lessons will not be cancelled due to low enrollment, but may be rescheduled due to inclement weather.

Program Length and Time:  Programs occur from 10:00am – 1:30pm and include 3 hours of active lesson and a 30 minute break. Lessons start promptly at 10:00am and will occur rain or shine, hot or cold!  Please have children dress for the weather, be prepared to go outside rain, snow or shine and wear clothes that can get wet and/or muddy!

Special COVID-19 Considerations:  As you prepare for your visit, just a few quick rules and procedures to ensure your visit is safe for your family and ours. 

  • Please adhere to social distancing guidelines in all areas of the Institute both indoors and outside – Keep 6 feet apart or more for The Wetlands Institute staff and/or other participating “NEHST Family Flocks”.
  • We require everyone aged 2 years and older, who is physically able without inhibiting their health, to wear a face covering in all indoor spaces and the decking surrounding the building.
  • We strongly recommend face coverings be worn on the Salt Marsh Trail, elevated walkway, and dock, and require face coverings be worn when interacting with The Wetlands Institute Staff and/or other participating “NEHST Family Flocks”. For your safety, our staff will also be wearing face coverings during any interaction and in all public spaces.
  • For the safety of others, please do not visit The Wetlands Institute if you are feeling ill or running a fever.
  • Due to capacity limitations, we will limit the number of NEHST registrations as determined by the education space available each month. 

Traveling from a farther distance?
 Consider planning “A Day at The Wetlands Institute” – pack snacks or a picnic lunch and use the  afternoon time after the homeschool lesson has been conducted with your child(ren) to explore the exhibits and the outdoor trails. The marsh is an ever-changing ecosystem and our elevated walkway and dock provide countless opportunities for self-exploration and learning!

Please Note:  To make the most out of the experience and to minimize distractions for registered children, we ask that siblings under 5 be cared for separately from the rest of the class.  It is the accompanying adult’s responsibility to monitor their behavior during the program.

Interested in a special homeschool program for your group?  We can accommodate homeschool groups of a minimum of 10 students per program. Please email or call Sue Slotterback, Environmental Educator at with any questions or to schedule a special time and date for your group.

Looking for more than a 3 hour experience?
We now offer full immersion overnight programs for your homeschool group of 10 or more children.
Complete program description:  Overnight Program