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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.  Lessons begin with the Autumn Semester on September 19, 2019 and continue until the end of the Spring Semester on May 21, 2020.

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.  

2019-2020 Monthly Curriculum

Autumn Semester: The Forests AND The Trees

We will start out the new season by taking a deep look at what a tree is. Over the next two sessions, we will explore two types of forests, a pine-oak forest and a maritime forest, comparing and contrasting how these two ecosystems work.

Thursday, September 19
Topic: What Makes a Tree a Tree?
Location: The Wetlands Institute
How are trees different than other kinds of plants? How are different trees different? What’s inside a tree? What’s on the outside and how does it all work together to make a tree be a tree? We’ll be asking questions, thinking about answers, and letting it “grow” on us as we get to know about the trees and their needs.

Thursday, October 17
Topic: A Tree’s Habitat is in a …
Location: Belleplain State Forest
A forest is a habitat, a very special habitat. With trees and flowers and chirping birds, insects, mammals, shrubs, and …. a whole host of wildlife that live, work, and are dependent on each other. Let’s explore this wild pine-oak ecosystem.

Thursday, November 21
Topic: As the Trees Grow
Location: Higbee Wildlife Management Area
Have you ever thought about how much you’ve grown? How you have changed? Have you ever wondered what you will become? It’s the same for forests. There may not have always been a forest in a particular location. It may not have always been this kind of forest. Have you ever wondered how old a forest is or how it changes as it grows? We’ll be the Deciduous Detectives, looking for details to figure out the future of the forest.

Winter Semester: Rock Fossil Stone

As silent as they are, rocks speak volumes about what they are made of, how they were formed, where they have been, and sometimes about the plant and animal life hundreds, thousands, and even millions of years ago. Let’s listen in and “get the dirt” on the stones in your yard.

Special Holiday Date! Thursday, December 12
Topic: Rock It Science
Location: TWI
Geeeology! Rocks have been around for a very long time so they have a lot to tell us about their journey on this planet, getting heaved up and ground down, heated and squeezed, cooling to crust and melting again, and they even get eaten!! You’ll find out that rocks Rock!

Thursday, January 16
Topic: Fossils: Impressions from the Past
Location: TWI
How do we know about dinosaurs and mammoths and gigantic dragonflies, if they have been extinct long before there were humans? How do we know where the seas and the mountains were long ago? Let’s dig into the past and have a look at creatures and features from once upon a time.

Thursday, February 20
Topic: Silt, Soil, Sand, and Stone: Great Growing Ground Stuff
Location: TWI
We’ve lived on this planet all our lives, but how much do we really know about the changing Earth beneath our feet? When was the last time you thanked the dirt you stand on? We eat, breathe, live on and even are clothed in soil. Let’s shake, shake, shake to see how soil is made, explore how the land has changed wildlife, and discover how wildlife has changed the land.

Spring Semester: Where the Waters Flow

Over the course of this theme we will meander the topic of water movement. First up is to discover what makes water do what it does. Then we will chart the changes as we follow the flow while it moves down stream, along the river, through the estuary, and out to sea.

Thursday, March 19
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, April 16
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, May 21
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”.

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!

Traveling from a further 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 every changing ecosystem and the newly completed 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