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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 15, 2022 and continue until the end of the Spring Semester on May 18, 2023. 

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. 

NEHST Homeschool Topics 2022-2023

Autumn Semester: Petal to the Metal

We will start out the new season by exploring the relationship between plants, people, and bugs. We will learn how bugs are attracted to specific plants and even how people use plants in their daily life!

Thursday, September 15
Topic: Pollinators and their Native Host Plants
Location: The Wetlands Institute

Do you have a favorite food you love to eat? So do pollinators! Every pollinator has a host plant they love to eat. Join us as we fly from flower to plant to bush, around the garden in search of delicious plants for butterflies, birds, and bats.

Thursday, October 20
Topic: Become an Entomologist
Location: Cape May Point State Park

From buzzing bees to beautiful butterflies, find out what it means to be a bug investigator! This week we will be focusing on the different types of bugs, their jobs, and how ecosystems depend on them! Maybe you’ll even discover a new species!

Thursday, November 17
Topic: People and Plants
Location: The Wetlands Institute

Peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk, plants and people! All perfect combinations! Plants help people in a lot of ways like providing medicine, food, and shelter. This week we will be learning how plants help us in our daily lives.      

Winter Semester: Don’t be Afraid of the Dark

Nature turns into another world at night! We will be studying phases of the moon, looking for constellations and learning what animals prefer to come out at night!  Don’t forget to dress warm as we learn about different animals’ hibernation adaptations.

Thursday, December 15
Topic: Animals in the Night, What an Excite!
Location: The Wetlands Institute

Have you ever been exploring outside at night and seen a weird animal? Or maybe heard a noise you’ve never heard before? This week we will be turning the lights out and learning about animals that only come out at night.

Thursday, January 19
Topic: To Starfinity and Beyond!
Location: The Wetlands Institute

You’ve probably already spent some time looking up at the sky. Now is your chance to spend the day blasting off into space and learning about the stars, clouds, and moon. Then come back at night, on January 26, for our bonus stargazing event, An Evening of Astronomy. It’ll be totally out of this world!

Thursday, February 16
Topic: Hibernation
Location: Belleplain State Forest

Brrrr….it’s cold outside! How do you get ready for winter? Do you drink hot chocolate and curl up in a fuzzy blanket? Many animals hibernate during the winter or have adaptations that help them survive the winter! Let’s take a closer look at how wildlife gets ready for the cold winter days.

Bonus Program for the Winter Semester: An Evening of Astronomy

Included with the price of registration for any month during the Winter Semester, spend an evening stargazing at The Wetlands Institute. Try and locate different constellations and learn the myths behind their names. Check out what phase the moon is in while you search for stars in the sky!

Location: The Wetlands Institute
Date/Time: Thursday, January 26 from 5:00 – 6:30 pm
Got rain? We will reschedule for Friday, January 27 from 5:00 – 6:30 pm.

Spring Semester: Paint with all the Colors of Nature

Artists, writers, and scientists are inspired by the natural world around us. Nature is full of colors, shapes, patterns, and even some myths! This semester we will be looking at the beauty of nature. Learn how to use the scientific method as we search for nature myths.

Thursday, March 16
Topic: What Color is Nature?
Location: The Wetlands Institute

Have you ever wondered how rainbows are made? Or why some bird’s feathers are so colorful and bright? Or how chameleons change their color? This week will be filled with exciting experiments plus learning about structural color and animal camouflage! You might even learn how to blend in with your surroundings! 

Thursday, April 20
Topic: Nature’s Pallet
Location: Cape May Point State Park

Nature is more than just exploring and playing outside, it can also be about art! From blooming flowers, chirping birds, and pretty animal patterns, many artists find their inspiration in nature. This week we will observe nature in a new way looking for shapes, patterns, and colors. Find your inner artist and have fun!

Thursday, May 18
Topic: Living in a Fantasy World
Location: Belleplain State Forest

Have you ever heard of fairies, gnomes, or wizards? Or maybe even Big Foot? This week we will be researching popular nature myths and using our observation skills to see if we can find out the truth of these nature legends. Get ready for a day filled with magical outdoor adventures!

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, please consider the following to ensure a safe visit for your family and ours.

  • Masking is optional at The Wetlands Institute and we respect individual choice related to mask wearing.
  • To the extent possible, please adhere to social distancing guidelines (6 feet apart or more for The Wetlands Institute staff and/or other program participants) in all areas of The Wetlands Institute both inside and outside, especially when in close proximity to other “NEHST Family Flocks”.
  • We strongly recommend face coverings be worn when social distancing is not possible and/or when interacting with The Wetlands Institute Staff and/or other participating group members in accordance with your organization’s regulations.
  • For the safety of others, please do not visit The Wetlands Institute if you are feeling ill or running a fever.
  • For Overnight Programs, participants should to the extent possible, conduct indoor eating, drinking and/or sleeping while socially distanced and in areas with increased ventilation and air circulation.


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 Kelianne O’Shea, Environmental Educator at koshea@wetlandsinstitute.org 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