Student Field Trips

Student Field Trips

Make learning fun.

Between selecting a school program, a guided tour, a tour/classroom combination or a self-guided discovery, Meijer Gardens believes every educational experience should be creative, age-appropriate and relevant. By focusing on main ideas and hands-on learning, these educational offerings are both informative and engaging. Four field trip options are offered.

School Program

  • 90-minute, curriculum-based interactive experience
  • 20 students min
  • 50 students max

$5.00 / Student

$3.50 / Teacher

Curriculum-based, hands-on educational activities led by experienced teachers. Select from the following:

In this program students will learn how food starts at a farm, and ends up on their plates. They will explore what plants need to grow by planting a seed and harvesting a vegetable. They will discover the variety of food grown on a farm and the work involved by trying fun farm chores. They will also learn about parts of a plant and why eating a variety of food is important by tasting a root, stem, leaf and flower.

 Good summer program

Compare past and present by participating in 1930s-era farm chores, discussing present day alternatives, making real butter and playing old-fashioned games.

 Good summer program

A is for animal, B is for Barn...come and explore the ABCs with us on the farm. Students are invited to investigate language arts in new ways. They will discover word families by deciphering animal rhymes; play with sequencing and creating action words by role playing farm chores; practice letter and sound recognition by going on an amazing farm alphabet hunt.

Practice counting at a produce stand using colorful fruits and vegetables and play coins and currency; use a clock to time farm chores like gathering eggs, hanging laundry, pumping water and painting the fence or barn; and play a giant board game filled with farm math word problems. Math on the farm can be so much fun!

The waterfalls in the Sculpture Park provide the perfect spot for activities focused on water. Learn which animals and insects live in water and examine water samples, explore the water cycle through hands-on experiments, and find out why water is such a valuable resource.

Learn fun facts about rocks with a variety of activities such as using microscopes to look closely at what rocks are made of, experimenting with the power of glaciers, and digging for the three types of rocks. Learn why rocks rock!

Move large rocks using levers, lift heavy weights with pulley systems and carve into wood using wedges. Then go on a scavenger hunt to find many other farm implements made up of simple machines. This is a wonderful program for making sense out of science.

Learn about the importance of trees by pretending to become a lumberjack, and find out why Grand Rapids became “furniture city.” Then unlock the secret to tree identification using a special identification “key.” Discover the many ways Native Americans, settlers and wildlife all used white pines—our state tree.

Imagine being a scientist by exploring our wetlands, recording  observations, sketching wildlife and performing simple experiments. Discover the amazing variety of plants and animals that make the wetlands home, and the important work that wetlands do from filtering our water to reducing flooding. A wetlands journal and bingo game are included.

Stretch, lunge, squat, jump, lift and dance your way to fitness using world-renowned sculpture as a springboard. Walk the mile-long Sculpture Park path stopping at various pieces to participate in fitness activities inspired by each. A truly unique combination of art education and exercise.

 Good summer program

Armed with sketch pads and pencils, students will practice their observation skills as they explore a variety of unique plants and intriguing sculptures and record their findings with quick drawings and detailed descriptions.

 Good summer program

School Tour / Activity Program

  • 45-minute guided tour
  • 45-minute related classroom project
  • 50 students max

$5.00 / Student

This program allows a teacher to reinforce tour concepts with a related classroom activity or explore two separate topics in the same visit. Cost includes room rental, materials and instruction fees. Combine any tour with any classroom activity. Choose from the following:

Students discuss what distinguishes sculpture from other art forms, what an artist needs in order to create sculpture (idea, tools, materials, money) as well as several different creative methods (additive, subtractive, fabrication, assemblage). Students then work in small teams to create a group sculpture. Younger students use clay; older students use scrap metal pieces. Students title their works and display them in a mock exhibition. (Bring a camera to take souvenir photos of the artwork).

Students learn the function of roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits by comparing the plant parts to ordinary household objects such as a mop, a garden hose or a bottle of perfume. Students then categorize common foods by which part of a plant they represent. Finally, they create a fantasy plant by combining foods from all the categories into a single drawing. Imagine a plant with carrot roots, celery stems, cabbage leaves, broccoli flowers and tomato fruits—yummy!

Students learn about metamorphosis while creating a pasta-art souvenir portraying the four stages of the butterfly life cycle. In addition, fascinating factoids about each stage are shared. Concepts discussed include insect anatomy, camouflage and other amazing defensive strategies. The class may also view Meijer Gardens’ own butterfly collection.

Students will discover that butterfly wings are not just beautiful—they’re critical to survival. Students will learn how butterflies fly and then observe and sketch the many scales that cover the wings, using a projecting microscope. Students will also observe pinned specimens and discover wings that resemble leaves, wings that are perfectly clear (providing camouflage) as well as butterflies that advertise they’re poisonous through bright colors. Those who look closely will discover what else wings can reveal—from a butterfly’s gender to its age.  Students will then use their creativity to design their own wing patterns. 

Extend the learning with a special classroom activity where the students discover the fascinating history of the Polish szopka.  Dating back to medieval times, szopki are brightly-colored, gleaming architectural displays combined with a traditional nativity scene.  These magnificent creations were originally designed as puppet theaters and used as educational tools during the Christmas season.  Using recycled materials, the class will create a group szopka which can be displayed at school. Appropriate for K-12. 

Students can try their hand at the art of rangoli, the custom of decorating the threshold of the home with colorful designs using natural materials.  These geometric patterns create a special welcome for guests visiting during the holidays.  Students will learn more about the Hindu Festival of Light, Diwali, the culture of India, and the tradition of rangoli. Students will create individual rangoli using lentils and beans or other natural materials to take home.  Appropriate for all ages.

Guided School Tour

  • 45 to 60-minutes, curriculum-based, interactive experience

$3.50 / Student

Led by trained volunteer docents. Limited tours are offered during our annual exhibitions: Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World (mid-November through December) and Butterflies Are Blooming (March through April). Otherwise, all tours are offered year-round unless otherwise noted. Choose from the following:

Offered only in the fall, this tour is a perfect way to learn colors, sizes, shapes and number skills while exploring our various plant conservatories. Children will rake a rainbow of leaves and hop-scotch across a terrazzo forest floor.

Download PDF

This tour focuses on biomes and plant adaptations. Students will compare a rainforest and a desert environment with Michigan’s own temperate deciduous forest. Students will ponder why cacti have spines and why the largest seed in the world can be found in only one spot.

This tour introduces the student to creative decision-making and the artistic process while exploring the works of major modern and contemporary artists such as Auguste Rodin, George Segal and Dale Chihuly. Whenever possible, this tour will include the current Sculpture Gallery exhibition.

Pretending they are stranded on a tropical island, students are challenged to survive. They will develop life-saving skills as they search for hidden water sources, create a shelter, find food and signal for help. Focusing on the many unique adaptations found in the tropics, they will learn typical rainforest plants, animals and climate conditions.

This outdoor tour uses the work of world-renowned sculptors to illustrate certain artistic concepts. Among the principles explained are scale, materials, placement, style (realistic, abstract and non-objective), surface treatment and setting. Students will appreciate what makes Meijer Gardens unique, and understand why we enjoy an international reputation for our permanent sculpture collection. Students should dress for the weather.

Download PDF

This overview tour focuses on the uniqueness of Meijer Gardens combining both horticultural and sculptural elements. The students will visit our indoor gardens and galleries and receive a brief introduction to each area. Highlights include grass that grows taller than a house, plants that can count and a sculpture with more than 1,500 pieces.

Self-Guided Tour

  • Explore at your own pace.

$3.50 / Student

Various materials are available to enhance your experience - please request the materials at the time you make your reservation. Choose from the following:

All sculpture gallery exhibitions offer a Gallery Guide describing the current exhibition, and many also have Family Looking Guides to provide additional, fun activities related to the artwork.

A set of imaginative, child-friendly Activity Cards will help chaperones navigate the ten distinct areas of the Lena Meijer Children’s Gardens. Cards provide suggestions for three age/difficulty levels.

Download Activity Cards PDF

Explore the Wetlands with our Wetlands Bingo worksheet. From dragonflies to cattails, students learn about this fascinating habitat as they try to find all the pictured features.

The 1930's come alive at our Michigan’s Farm Garden. Discover how farming used to be done by trying our Tool Matching Challenge in the barn.

Search for intriguing sculptures using the visitor map and worksheet. After you find them, try the accompanying activity. Have fun!

Available during our Butterflies are Blooming exhibition are both an identification guide to distinguish the various butterfly species and an Adopt-A-Butterfly worksheet to help the visitor understand butterfly basics including flight patterns, camouflage techniques and behaviors such as puddling.

Sketching is welcomed throughout Meijer Gardens. There are clipboards as well as portable sketching stools for your use. Please request these materials at the time you make your reservation.

Registration

To schedule a field trip, call our Education Assistant at (616) 977-7683, or complete a registration request form and submit via email. Please schedule your field trip a minimum of two weeks in advance. If scheduling during our Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition, please register early. Please note: Once our Education Assistant has confirmed your field trip date and time via email, then you may consider your field trip scheduled.

Chaperones

We require one chaperone for every four preschoolers, six elementary students; eight middle school students; or 10 high school students.

Deposit

A $50 deposit is required for groups of 100+ or more, or when scheduling a School Program. The deposit is non-refundable and will be applied toward the balance due.

Cost & Scholarships

  • Tours: $3.50 per student
  • Programs: $5.00 per student
  • Teachers & Chaperones: $3.50
  • Additional Adults: $8.00
  • Scholarship Application

SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN.

A $50 deposit is required for groups of 100+ or more, or when scheduling a teacher-led program. The deposit is non-refundable and will be applied toward the balance due. Upon arrival, please be prepared to make one payment for the entire group. You may pay with cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express (Meijer Gardens does not accept purchase orders and cannot invoice). Meijer Gardens will refund any overpayment.

Scholarship funds and transportation assistance are awarded to Title I schools on a first-come, first-served basis. Two limited scholarships are available for eligible applicants after October 1, 2014. The transportation scholarship helps defray bus costs while the admissions scholarship reduces the entrance fee. Download the scholarship application and fax completed applications to the Education Assistant (616) 957-5792.

Eating Options

There are several eating options for field trips including boxed lunches from our Taste of the Gardens Café, a rented classroom, and outdoor picnic pavilions.

Eating Outdoors
  • Sack lunches may be eaten at three outdoor picnic pavilions, located near the parking lot. Each pavilion has three, eight-foot picnic tables. The pavilions operate on a first-come, first-served basis, and may not be reserved.
  • Two pavilions have large grassy areas adjacent to the building; students may sit and eat in the grass as long as trash is disposed of properly.
  • Sack lunches are not permitted in any other outdoor area.
  • The amphitheater pavilion is located near the designated bus-parking area. If you plan to access this pavilion, please leave your lunches on the bus.
  • For your convenience, your lunches may be unloaded and left near the front entrance. Please package your lunches in large containers labeled with the name of the school as well as the teacher. A greeter will be available to help unload your lunches.
Eating Indoors
  • If space is available, a classroom may be reserved for your use. Please call for rental fee pricing. No deposit is necessary. You may pay for the room upon arrival. The classroom seats approximately 100. Groups are requested to leave the room in a tidy condition. Because Meijer Gardens is a popular corporate meeting site, it is recommended that you reserve your room in advance.
  • There is public seating for approximately 20 people in the downstairs lobby. These tables operate on a first-come, first-served basis, and may not be reserved.
Taste of the Gardens Café
  • The café does not take reservations.
  • Because of Health Department regulations, food from home cannot be brought into the café.
  • Hot food and daily specials are served until 3:00 pm; cold foods are served until closing.
  • Boxed lunches are available. (Order form online)
  • If ordering lunches from the cafe, fax the request 10 days prior to the field trip. The outdoor patio is for café customers only.