Home School Programs

Your home schooled child can join our professional Environmental Educators as we introduce them to ecological and biological principles, facilitating an appreciation and understanding of the natural world. Your child will become familiar with plants and animals throughout New Jersey and discover how human activities affect the environment.

We have three program options available to home school parents:

  1. Home Ecologists: Individual families with children 5-12 years old may register for Tenafly Nature Center's Home Ecologists group. Parents can sign up for the series or just a single session. If older students would like to attend these classes please contact the Education Director and accommodations can be made to create a more advanced class.
  2. Home School Group: A home school group can schedule a private class with a topic of their choice. 
  3. Parent Workshops: Tenafly Nature Center, a registered New Jersey Professional Development Provider, offers many workshops designed to train educators of all grades in a curriculum of wildlife appreciation and fun, hands-on activities. The activities assist students of any age in developing awareness, knowledge, skills, and commitment, leading to informed decisions, responsible behavior and constructive actions concerning wildlife and the environment upon which life depends. These programs are conducted in cooperation with the National Project WILD and Project Learning Tree offices and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Please visit our Professional Development page for upcoming opportunities.

Home Ecologists 2014-2015

Each two-hour program will consist of indoor and outdoor hands-on learning and close observations in our 380-acre living museum. Depending on the topic, students may observe live animals, collect aquatic creatures, take measurements of water quality, or play games illustrating cycles and relationships among living things. Parents can also take home activities and suggestions for further study from many of our classes.

  • For families with children 4-12 years old.
  • Parents may sign up for the series or just a single session.
  • Parents may stay with the group or drop off; there is no charge for parents.
  • Siblings older or younger, may not attend without prior permission from the education director.

Topics and Dates

October: Animal Habitats
October 6
Learn about animal habitats and discover what components are critical for different animals. Participate in hands-on activities to learn which environmental characteristics attract different animals. Meet one of Tenafly Nature Center’s Animal Ambassadors and learn about its natural habitat. Hike the trails to explore the different habitats available at Tenafly Nature Center. 
October 20
Investigate microhabitats and learn that even unexpected or inhospitable places can harbor wildlife. Through games and hands-on activities, children will learn to identify the basic components required to provide a habitat for any animal. Meet one of Tenafly Nature Center’s resident Animal Ambassadors and find out where they live in the wild.

November: Food Webs/Web of Life
November 3
Food chains and webs are one of nature’s many important life cycles found in nature. Discover which foods provide energy sources for both carnivores and herbivores. Outdoor games and fun activities will reinforce the concepts learned.
November 17
Investigate the components and interrelationships that make up a food web. Kids will play interactive games to help them understand food webs. Participate in a fun scavenger hunt to search for evidence of food chains and webs.

December: Predators and Prey
December 1
Learn about the ecology of and interconnections between populations and understand how energy moves through a food chain. Discover how natural selection favors effective predators and evasive prey. Students will participate in interactive games to discover the complex interactions between predators and prey affect an ecological community.
December 15
Learn how prey animal have adapted to become successful in their habitats. Students will create their own prey animal using what they have learned about animal adaptations. Children will meet a TNC Animal Ambassador and learn about the adaptations that identify them as prey.

January: Climate and Communities
January 5
Examine how climate affects plant and animal communities. Investigate different biomes to understand how quickly and effectively plants and animals can adapt to climate and how climate change can affect their survival. Students will create a biome collage to represent the concepts learned.
January 19
Learn about the climate at the Tenafly Nature Center and participate in hands on activities to investigate TNC’s ecosystem. Activities include a fun scavenger hunt along TNC’s trails to search for clues that will illustrate the effect of climate on the ecosystem.

February: People and Animals
February 2
Learn about the complex interactions between animals in their environments and the conflicts between animals and people. Discover the impacts of human activities on habitats, resources and populations. Experiment with the concept of “Too Close for Comfort” through animal portrayals.
February 9
Discover the important relationships between humans and wildlife and the significance of domesticated animals.  Play games to discover the connection between humans and domestic animals. Learn how humans can be good stewards of wildlife and the environment through hands-on activities. 

March: Endangered Species
March 2
Investigate why and how animals and plants become extinct. Discover the impact humans and human activities have on the status of species. Participate in interactive games to learn more about this topic. Meet one of TNC’s endangered Animal Ambassadors.
March 16
Find out how to protect endangered species and create a project to educate others. Get outside and participate in outdoor activities to help the TNC habitats.

April: Plants and Their Habitats
April 13
Explore the Tenafly Nature Center’s native hardwood forest and learn about the ecology of a forest and its inhabitants. Conduct hands-on investigations on the inner life of the forest. Hike the trails to observe interactions between plants and animals.
April 20
Examine seeds, flowers and other plant parts with a Tenafly Nature Center Environmental Educator to learn about different types of plants. Learn how plants are adapt to their habitats. Students will examine the importance of plant communities in an ecosystem through hands-on investigations.

May: Decomposition
May 4
Get your hands dirty in this investigation into decomposition! Discover that soil is a “rotten place to live”. Investigate the decomposition process of the forest using hand lenses and field guides. Students will use what they’ve learned to construct a log mural illustrating what happens to a fallen tree as it decomposes. 
May 18
Learn all about compost and where it comes from. Visit Tenafly Nature Center’s compost area and create a mini compost bin. Enjoy a “compost” snack and participate in hands on activites to apply the concepts learned in TNC’s Backyard Habitat.

June: Pollination and the Pollinators
June 1
Discover the secrets of pollination and how it contributes to the process of forming a seed. Discover the plant adaptations that attract pollinators. Participate in active outdoor games to learn about pollination.
June 15
Learn which insects and animals are pollinators and where they live. Discover what special adaptations  pollinators’ utilize, hike Tenafly Nature Center’s trails to observe plants and look for pollinators, and learn how pollen is collected through fun, hands on activities.

Please visit our Registration and Policies page for any questions you may have regarding registration for Home Ecologists.

Home Ecologists

Home School Group

  • A non-refundable deposit for a program covers 10 children. Groups of fewer than 10 are welcome, but the deposit charge is required to secure a time slot. 
  • Programs require one parent per home school group. 
  • Additional parents are welcome to stay or drop-off; parents are always free. 

Home School Group Pricing
Maximum of 15 children
(up to 25 people with parents)
$120 deposit
$12 per additional child

To Schedule:

1. Contact the Education Director via e-mail or at (201) 568-6093 and she will contact you as soon as possible. Please be prepared to provide following information:
  • Your name
  • The mailing address
  • Phone number
  • Age of children
  • Number of children in the group
  • Name of the program (To view program topics click here)
  • Requested date (for faster scheduling have several date options)
  • Requested time for program's (for faster scheduling have several time options)
2. Review and sign the confirmation form sent by the Education Director.
3. Mail the signed confirmation form with payment to the attention of the Education Director.


  • In order to obtain adequate number of staff, advance notice of additional parents and younger siblings is required. We reserve the right to limit the number of non-registered participants to the number originally registered on the confirmation form.
  • Siblings may not attend without prior permission from the Education Director. If siblings would like to participate in the class, a fee of $12.00 per child will be applied.
  • Participants should be prepared to be outside for the majority of the class. An Environmental Educator will lead the group through the program; attending adults are expected to stay and assist the group when necessary to provide an enjoyable experience for all involved. 

Payment Policies:

  • A non-refundable deposit is required for all programs.
  • Programs scheduled with less than two weeks notice will require pre-payment three days prior to the program.
  • Payment can be made by your group representative by check, cash, or money order (credit cards not accepted).
  • It is the duty of the group representative to collect the fee from the participants. TNC will not accept individual payments from the participants.

Reschedule, Cancel & Refund Information

  • TNC programs are taught mostly outdoors and are held drizzle or shine. However, in the event of heavy rain or dangerous temperatures, an alternate indoor program may be substituted.
  • If your group must reschedule, a $50 rescheduling fee will be applied.
  • If your group must cancel, refunds are based on how far in advance cancellation is from schedule date.
    • More than 30 days’ notice - 100% returned
    • 11 to 30 days’ notice - 50% returned
    • Less than 11 days’ notice - No refund

Upcoming events

Saturday, June 20, 2015 • TNC Trails
Monday, July 27, 2015 9:00 AM • Tenafly Nature Center Pavilion
Monday, July 27, 2015 9:00 AM • Tenafly Nature Center Pavilion

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