Seven Ponds Nature Center

A Nature Sanctuary and Environmental Education Center

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Programs for School Children

Seasonal Walks

General Trail Walk

Seasonal Walks are informal and open-ended, emphasizing the changes in nature throughout the year. Each season, indeed each day, has its own fascinating mysteries for eager students to discover along our trails. Much of the walk is spontaneous with topics chosen from interesting events encountered on the trail. How plants and animals live and interact, the natural laws they follow, and our ancestors close relationship with nature are some of the many themes that may be covered. Seasonal walks are available for any organized group from pre-school through adult.
Time: 1 1/2 hours; Fee: $3.00 per person
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Pond Exploration
Grades K-6 We will dive into the under water world of our lakes and ponds. Through pictures and water investigations students will learn all about the critters that make the water their home. K-1 will do pond critter observation and G2-6 will dip the ponds with nets.
Time: 2 hours Fee: $4.00

Explorer Programs

Explorer Programs, for grades K through 6, use exciting natural history topics to teach important ecological concepts. These interesting programs promote greater awareness and appreciation of our surroundings, often using hands-on-activities, specimens, slide shows, and nature walks.
Time: 2 hours; Fee: $4.00 per person

Explorer Program List:

(Click on the title to see a description)

Non-Living Things

Sensing the Forest
Children will use their senses to explore the beautiful forest of Seven Ponds, using simple tools to learn about the natural world. They will discover sights, sounds, and smells, from tiny mushrooms on rotting logs to the sounds of birds singing from the treetops. The children will have plenty of hands-on experiences while looking at and touching many kinds of plants and animals, learning about the basic needs of these organisms in the process. L.LO.00.11, L.LO.00.12, S.IP.00.11-15, S.IA.00.1214, S.RS.0011
The World of the Beaver
Beavers are builders and loggers, and their work stands out at Seven Ponds! With the beavers help, young learners will discover the differences between living and nonliving things. We will become beaver detectives and use our senses and detecting tools to find clues that will lead us to the beavers home. Along the way, children will see many kinds of plants and animals and learn what these living things need to survive.
L.LO.00.11-12, S.IP.00.11-15, S.IA.00.12-14, S.RS.0011

Animal Life Cycles
Grade 1

From Tadpole to Frog
The nature centers lakes and ponds abound with animals of all shapes and sizes, with a variety of lifecycle types. We will discover how these animals begin their life in the pond, which young animals live in the water, and which animals leave the water as adults. Through pond exploration and nature investigation, the children learn how animals live and grow in the wild. Expectations: L.OL.01.13, L.OL.01.21, S.IP.01.11-15, S.IA.01.12-14, S.RS.01.11-12, L.HE.01.11-12
Grasshoppers to Groundhogs
The forests and fields at Seven Ponds are teeming with animal life, including insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Using nets, magnifying lenses, and animal specimens, we will learn about the lifecycles of these animals, and discover how animals ranging from insects to mammals spend their days from birth to adulthood in the wild. Suggested Fall program. Expectations: L.OL.01.13, L.OL.01.21, E.ES.01.11-12, S.IP.01.11-15, S.IA.01.12-14, S.RS.01.11-12

Plant Life Cycles
Grade 2

The Secret Life of the Prairie
The tallgrass prairie at Seven Ponds contains a variety of amazing plants that sprout, grow, flower, and produce seed each year. Through a variety of hands-on activities, children will learn about the lifecycle of prairie plants, how the prairie provides the needs for these plants, and the many ways that these plants survive in an adverse environment. Students will even collect seeds from selected plants to take back to the classroom for a planting project! Suggested Fall program. Expectations: S.IP.02.11-15, S.IA.02.12-14, S.RS.02.11, L.OL.02.14, L.OL.02.22, L.HE.02.13
Green Planet
Green plants are all around us, in the forest, prairie, fields, and wetlands. Students will get the opportunity to explore this green natural world. Thorough applied investigations and discussion, students will learn about the amazing life cycles of many plants, as well as the interesting relationships between plants and animals. Expectations: S.IP.02.11-16, S.IA.02.12-14, S.RS.02.11, L.OL.02.14, L.OL.02.22

The Water Cycle
Grade 2

A World of Water
The Earth is a water planet and Seven Ponds has plenty of it. Students will understand that water is a natural resource and through hands-on activities will discover all of the different places water is found at the nature center in the ground, in the air, and in a variety of wetland communities which include lakes, ponds, streams, swamps, and marshes. Students will compare plant and animal life in several locations to gain an understanding of the habitat requirements of a variety of organisms. Expectations: S.IP.02.11-16, S.IA.02.12-14, S.RS.02.11, L.OL.02.13-14, E.FE.02.11-14, E.FE.02.13, E.FE.02.21. E.FE.02.22

Natural Resources and Human Impact
Grade 3

Forest Home of the Woodland Indians Michigan's once vast forests were a giant supermarket to the Woodland Indians. This habitat provided everything needed for survival. Today, we purchase most of our needs from supermarkets and department stores. Through activities and hands-on nature study, students will learn how natural resources were used by the Woodland Indians, how we use them today, and the impact of each on our natural environment. Expectations: S.IP.03.11 - S.IP.03.13, S.IP.03.16, E.ES.03.41-43, E.ES.03.51-52

Adaptations of Living Things
Grade 3

Cattails to Crayfish
Adaptations are everywhere in the natural world, and there is no better place to investigate this than in the water. Students will explore the pond life looking for the many different plant and animal groups found there and what adaptations they use to survive in their watery environment. Expectations: S.IP.03.11 - S.IP.03.13, S.IP.03.16, S.IA.03.12-13, S.RS.03.11, S.RS.03.18, L.OL.03.31-32, L.OL.03.41-42, L.EV.03.11-12

Plant and Animal Relationships
Grade 4

Native Americans and the Web of Life Have you ever eaten sunlight? Do you have plants and animals in your lunch? What is the origin of your food, clothing and shelter? We will explore the nature center from the perspective of the Indians who used this land in the past, and consider our relationship with the land today. Slides, specimens, and a walk get students thinking about their significant connections to the natural environment. Expectations: S.IP.04.11-12, S.IP.04.14, S.IA.04.13, S.RS.04.11, S.RS.04.18, L.OL.04.15-16, L.EV.04.21-22, L.EC.04.11, L.EC.04.21

The Wetland Connection
Grade 4

This program will take us on an adventure through the wetlands found at Seven Ponds. We will investigate the complex interactions of the plants and animals found in these wet worlds through pond dipping and observation, exploring such topic as producers, consumers, food chains, food webs, and predator/prey relationships. Inside, we will have time to take a close-up look at plants and animals using hand lenses and microscopes. Expectations: S.IP.04.11-12, S.IP.04.14, S.IA.04.13, S.RS.04.11, S.RS.04.18, L.OL.04.15-16, L.EC.04.11, L.EC.04.21

Amazing Animals
(Survival of the Fittest)

Grade 5

Bring your class out to Seven Ponds and discover the incredible array of adaptations animals have for surviving the seasonal changes of the natural world. The great diversity found at the nature center will allow us to explore a variety of habitats and learn the many ways animals have become linked to their environment. Students will observe the shapes and sizes of animals and behavior, and gain an understanding of the adaptations animals have to help them survive Michigan's seasonal changes. Expectations: S.IP.05.11-14, S.RS.05.15, S.RS.05.17, L.OL.05.42, L.HE.05.11-12, L.EV.05.11-12

Wetland Adaptations
Grade 5

Lakes, ponds, and streams present a variety of challenges for the organisms residing in them. Plants and animals have many structural and behavioral adaptations for life in these wetland environments. Indoors we will take a close-up look at a variety of these adaptations by examining prepared specimens and a PowerPoint presentation. Then we will hike down to the pond for a pond dipping session which will give students a first-hand look at many pond organisms and an understanding of what it takes to survive in the water. Expectations: S.IP.05.11, S.IP.05.13-14, S.RS.05.15, L.OL.05.42, L.HE.05.11-12, L.EV.05.11-12

Life in the Prairie
Grade 6

Students will explore the striking ecosystem of a tall grass prairie. They will discover a world woven together within the tall grasses. Through discussion, activities, and hikes students will understand the ecological role many of the plants and animals play in the prairie community. They will also learn of the loss of much of the tallgrass prairie because of past human activity, and what people are doing to restore and reconstruct this magnificent ecosystem today. Expectations: S.IP.06.11, S.IP.06.13-14, S.IA.06.13, S.RS.06.15, S.RS.06.17, L.OL.06.51-52, L.EC.06.11, L.EC.06.21-23, L.EC.06.31-32, L.EC.06.41-42

Exploring Ecosystems
Grade 6

Seven Ponds is one of the few places in southeastern Michigan where students can observe a range of distinct ecosystems that include forests, wetlands, fields, and prairie. Along the trail, they will be able to compare such abiotic components as soil type and water availability, as well as the plant and animal communities which are unique to each of these ecosystems. Students will gain an understanding of some of the complex relationships in each natural community, including predator/prey, competition, symbiosis, and parasitism. Expectations: S.IP.06.11, S.IP.06.13-14, S.IA.06.13, S.RS.06.15, S.RS.06.17, L.OL.06.51-52, L.EC.06.11, L.EC.06.21-23, L.EC.06.31-32, L.EC.06.41-42
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Traveling Naturalist Programs

Traveling Naturalist Programs are designed to liven up the science curriculum without having to leave the classroom! The programs are presented in a way which is appropriate for each grade level and includes important concepts relative to the state’s science expectations. Each classroom session provides students with a hands-on experience which will complement their studies of the natural world. Programs are offered all year, though January through March are best for scheduling. For more information and to schedule a program, call the nature center at (810) 796-3200.
Time: one hour average.
Fee: $2.00 per student.
  • Mileage is also charged if your school is over 25 miles from the nature center.
  • Seven Ponds is constantly updating our programs to meet the needs of teachers and students. If we can modify any of the programs to include a certain concept, animal, or expectation to better fit your curriculum, please let us know. We aim to be an educational and fun resource for you.

Traveling Naturalist Program List:

(Click on the title to see a description)

Wildlife Wonders of Michigan
Grades Pre-school–6

Description: Learn about the variety of animals that live in Michigan including amphibians, birds, insects, mammals, and reptiles. These animals provide exciting lessons relative to the expectations for each grade level. See and touch study skins, pelts, and a live animal.
Expectations: vary according to grade level.

Pre-school Nature Play

Description: Through touching, singing, and acting, students will learn about nature in a fun-filled way. A friendly live animal will conclude the program.

The Amazing Nature Adventure

Description: Let students discover nature with this sensory program. They will get to see and touch some of the living and once living creatures that can be found in their backyards. Through hands-on activities, the students will also learn about the special senses these animals have and what they need (i.e. food, water) to survive.
Expectations: L.OL.00.11-12, S.IP.00.11-15, S.IA.00.12-14, S.RS.00.11

Animals Alive

Description: Students will be introduced to what makes something living and non-living. Then, the students will get to see and touch some of the living and once living creatures that can be found in their backyards. Through a hands-on activity, the students will also learn about the special characteristics (i.e. growing, breathing) that living animals have.
Expectations: L.OL.00.11-12, S.IP.00.11-15, S.IA.00.12-14, S.RS.00.11

Circle of Life
Grade 1

Description: Meet some of the creatures that live at Seven Ponds and learn about their life cycles with an interactive game. We will also be looking at the animal’s physical characteristics and changes throughout its life and how those characteristics are helpful at each stage. A special live animal will conclude the program.
Expectations: L.OL.01.13, L.OL.01.21, S.IP.01.11-15, S.IA.01.12-14, S.RS.01.11-12, L.HE.01.11-12

Mystery in the Forest
Grade 2

Concept: plant life cycles, plant/animal relationships
Description: Students will explore the life cycle of a mystery plant and its untimely death. Figure out the culprit by interviewing witnesses and visiting the crime scene to look for clues that are left behind, including a live animal.
Expectations: L.OL.02.14, L.OL.02.22, S.IP.02.11-14, S.IA.02.12-14, S.RS.02.11

The Land of the Three Fires
Grades 3

Concept: Natural Resources and Human Impact on the Environment
Description: Michigan’s once vast forests were giant supermarkets to the Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi; the Three Fires. Michigan’s natural resources provided everything they needed for survival. Today, though most of our needs are purchased from stores, it all still starts with natural resources from the land. Though activities and hands-on nature study, students will learn how natural resources were used by the Three Fires, how we use them today, and the impact of each on our natural environment.

Exploring Michigan Animals
Grade 3

Concept: animal classification and physical adaptations
Description: Through the use of a live animal and once living animals, students will play a guessing game to discover how to classify animals based on their characteristics. Students will get to touch many of the animals as well as have the opportunity to learn about some of the animals’ special adaptations that help it survive.
Expectations: L.OL.03.32, L.OL.03.42, S.IP.03.11-13, S.IP.03.16, S.IA.03.12-13, S.RS.03.11, S.RS.03.18, L.EV.03.12

The World of Dirt
Grade 3

Concept: earth science and animal adaptations
Description: Investigate soil and its characteristics with hands-on activities. Students will also have an opportunity to meet some of the underground animals that rely on soil for their homes, including one live animal!
Expectations: L.OL.03.31-32, L.OL.03.41-42, S.IP.03.11-13, S.IP.03.16, S.IA.03.12-13, S.RS.03.11, S.RS.03.18, L.EV.03.11-12, E.SE.03.13-14

Wildlife Discovery: Predator vs. Prey
Grades 3-5

Description: A mystery animal leads students through the important concepts of adaptations, predator/prey relationships, and the balance in nature between populations of living things. An activity allows each student to become a predator.
Expectations grade 3: L.OL.03.32, L.OL.03.42, S.IP.03.11-13, S.IP.03.16, S.IA.03.13, S.RS.03.11, S.RS.03.18, L.EV.03.12
Expectations grade 4: L.OL.04.15-16, S.IP.04.11-12, S.IP.04.14, S.IA.04.13, S.RS.04.11, S.RS.04.18, L.EV.04.21-22, L.EC.04.11, L.EC.04.11
Expectations grade 5: L.OL.05.42, S.IP.05.11, S.IP.05.13, S.RS.05.15, L.EV.05.11-12

What’s for Lunch?
Grades 4

Concept: adaptations within food chains and food webs
Description: Plant and animal relationships are the focus in this program. Every living thing is a link in the food chain. We will demonstrate how the sun’s energy is transferred from plants to herbivores, from herbivores to carnivores, and from all living things to decomposers. Students will make food chains and food webs, and discover different mammal and skulls in this hands-on program.
Expectations: L.OL.04.15-16, S.IP.04.12-14, S.IA.04.12-13, S.RS.04.11, S.RS.04.18, L.EC.04.11, L.EC.04.21

Cunning Critters
Grades 5

Concept: animal adaptations
Description: Surviving a year in Michigan is a tricky task for the animals that live here. Students will see and feel animal mounts to help them better understand adaptations. Students will also participate in activities that will help them compare their own abilities to those of animals with amazing adaptations.
Expectations: L.OL.05.42, S.IP.05.11-14, S.RS.05.15, S.RS.05.17, L.EV.05.11-12, L.HE.05.11-12, E.ES.05.61

Our World’s Disappearing Wildlife
Grades 6

Concept: human influence on animal populations
Description: Students explore the issue of endangered plants and animals. Using specimens from Michigan and around the world, students will work in small groups to discover the reasons species become endangered and the ways they can help.
Expectations: L.OL.06.51-52, S.IP.06.11, S.IP.06.13-14, S.IA.06.13, S.RS.06.15, S.RS.06.17, L.EC.06.11, L.EC.06.21-23, L.EC.06.31-32, L.EC.06.41-42

Other programs also available:

  • Native Americans and the Land (Grades: 3-6)
  • Tracks and other Signs Animals Leave Behind (Grades: 3-5)
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Download our program guide for teachers and youth leaders. Note: the file size is a 1.5 meg Adobe Acrobat PDF.
Educator's Guide
Important Information
All groups must make prior arrangements with the nature center before coming. Early scheduling is recommended due to the great demand for programs and may be done up to a year in advance.
• Dress for the weather and natural setting. The desire to learn rapidly fades when children are cold or wet.
• Sack lunches may be eaten in the picnic area. We have no indoor eating facilities.
• Groups have access to the trails only under the supervision of a naturalist.
• Seven Ponds is a nature sanctuary-collecting plants and animals is not permitted.
• When scheduling a program let us know about children with special needs-physical, emotional or learning. This allows us to make the appropriate arrangements prior to your arrival.
• The bookstore also carries a wide selection of nature oriented materials appropriate for students to buy as gifts and souvenirs.
Borrow a Teacher Kit
Teacher kits are multi-media packages (including specimens) which help present interesting lessons to get students thinking about the natural world they depend on. Three kits are currently available: Winter Birds, Bird Nests, and Raptors. They can be borrowed for two weeks.
Fee: $10.00 per kit.