Field Trips to ICG

“My students were very excited to have the opportunity to find, see, and touch living creatures in the compost, chicken coop, and in the creek. My students loved getting to eat outdoors and have unstructured play time after the tour.”

Offer your students the opportunity to connect with the natural world through hands-on, garden-based activities and discoveries at Ithaca Children’s Garden.

Programs Offered

Download the field trip program descriptions

Wetland Explorations (K-5)

Wade in and explore the diversity of plants and animals that make their homes in ICG’s wetland habitats. Nets and containers in tow, we’ll get to experience these creature up close and see their unique adaptations at work. Add a trip through the Water Cycle with a game that gets us moving and thinking.

Pollen and Parts (2-5)

Dive inside flowers to discover more than their beautiful facades.Dissect their unique structure and inner workings. Become a grain of pollen and figure out how to make your way by wind, animal, or insect to fulfill your mission of ensuring the futures of fruits, seeds, and all life on earth.

Compost Magic (PreK-5)

What’s going on in the deep, dark depths of the compost bin? Explore the kingdom of tiny creatures and crucial energy cycles that fuel the decomposition of organic matter in our world.Get your hands dirty turning and sifting. Add on a couple rounds of Decomposer Tag, a game that gets us moving and thinking.

All 5 Senses Garden Exploration (PreK-5)

Enter ICG’s Kitchen Garden and awaken your senses to all the tastes, smells, textures, sounds, and sights within.This hands-on exploration will use all our senses as we find the rainbow hidden within, taste and smell herbs, discover why some stems are hairy, and listen for all the creatures hidden out of sight. Add on a simple hands-on cooking activity in the Kids’ Kitchen.

Animal Helpers: Bees & Chickens in the Garden (PreK-5)

Find out what all the buzzing and clucking is all about. Pet chickens, taste honey, and learn how these two very different creatures help care for the Garden and how we care for them in return. (Chickens return to the Garden on June 1st)

Service Learning (5-12)

Who says hard work can’t be fun? Bring your group on a service learning field trip at ICG to learn the foundations of maintaining a public garden. Through hands-on-activities, youth will benefit from seeing the impacts of their actions and the value of teamwork. Activity length and rotations are structured according to the specific needs of the garden at the time of your service learning trip. Please contact us with questions or to discuss what might be possible for your group.

Purely Play (PreK-12)

We take play very seriously at ICG. Play is not just fun, it is critical to learning and healthy child development. Children develop a relationship with the natural world through unstructured, child-led free play outdoors. It’s that relationship, more than anything, that inspires our future environmental stewards. See what magic, discovery, and inspiration unfolds when children are given the time, space, and permission to play in the natural world.

“The Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone was absolutely a wonderful and surprising highlight. I loved watching my students come alive in that area!”

Registration Information

Pre-registration is required.

Payment is due at the time of your visit unless arrangements have been made ahead. Please use the online form to express your interest in a field trip to ICG and request your preferred dates and program. Field Trip Registration Form

Cost and Details

Garden Field Trips: $6/student; no charge for adult chaperones

We recommend planning for a 2-4 hour field trip. Based on your group size we will ask you to divide your students into 2-4 smaller groups for the activity portion of your field trip.You’ll receive an information packet at least 2 weeks before your visit which will include a proposed schedule, map of the Garden, and background information for teachers and chaperones as well as information to share with parents and students.

Groups arrive at the Garden’s Main Entrance, enter through the purple gates, and gather in the Village Green.

An ICG educator will welcome and orient your group to the Garden.

An ICG educator will offer a 20-25 minute garden lesson/exploration/game for up to 4 groups of students.

Groups are welcome to stay for as long as they’d like to explore, play, and picnic lunch.

ADD ONS: Add an ICG Educator for a second 20-25 minute garden lesson/exploration/game for $2 per student. Add a Playworker to support child-led free play in the Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone for $2 per student.

Buddy Up Field Trips (2 classrooms): $120

We recommend planning for a 2-4 hour field trip. Based on your group size we will ask you to divide your students into 2-4 smaller groups for the activity portion of your field trip.You’ll receive an information packet at least 2 weeks before your visit which will include a proposed schedule, map of the Garden, and background information for teachers and chaperones as well as information to share with parents and students.

Groups arrive at the Garden’s Main Entrance and gather in the Village Green.

An ICG educator will welcome and orient your group to the Garden.

An ICG educator will offer a 15 minute garden lesson/exploration/game for up to 4 groups of students.

Groups are welcome to stay for as long as they’d like to explore, play, and picnic lunch.

ADD ONS: Add an ICG Educator for a second 15 minute garden lesson/exploration/game for $2 per student. Add a Playworker to support child-led free play in the Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone for $2 per student.

Independent Field Trip

Groups that would like to visit Ithaca Children’s Garden independently are welcome to do so.The Garden is open every day, dawn to dusk. However, we kindly request you fill out the Field Trip Registration Form so we can avoid scheduling conflicts and alert you to anything that may affect your trip, like construction projects, status of restrooms, or special teachable moments.

“I've been bringing my second and first grade classes to the Ithaca Children's Garden for the past 8 years. I am fortunate that it is an easy walk from Beverly J. Martin School. My goal in bringing the children is always very simple: go explore! We keep the majority of time there unstructured. What do the kids do?

* Climb on the turtle and wonder at the relationship between shell sections and moons. (I always read them 13 Moons on Turtle's Back by Joseph Bruchac)

* Explore the frog pond...in GREAT detail

* Head to the garden to munch

* Run and roll in the grass

* Follow the labyrinth

* Create and imagine in the Anarchy Zone

* Watch birds

* Collect insects, worms, etc.

For many of my students, playing outside is not a given. Playing outside with lots of room to explore, create and grow is even less probable.The Children's Garden provides us with a place to take teaching into the world.Our studies of life cycles, animal habitats and composting come alive. Many students report returning to the garden with their families following our school visits.” ~2nd grade teacher, BJM Elementary