Student Field Trips

Student Field Trips

Make learning fun.

Meijer Gardens believes every educational experience should be creative, age-appropriate and relevant. By focusing on main ideas and hands-on learning, our educational offerings are both informative and engaging. Four field trip options are offered (details below). When you are ready to schedule your field trip, please fill out the Field Trip Registration Request Form available HERE.

Reduced Group Admission (Self-Led Tour)

  • Explore at your own pace.

Reduced Group Admission:
$4.00 / Student

A minimum of ten students and two weeks preregistration is required. 

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

Holiday traditions around the globe celebrate with food, dancing, ritual and family. Share the joyful spirit of celebration with students by watching the film joy,  playing continuously in the Hoffman Auditorium during our annual exhibition or on our website. See celebrations from five communities here in West Michigan, then use this guide to explore the exhibition and discover more about the traditions featured.

Download and print the Joyful Discoveries Tour PDF.

Available during Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World.

Explore the desert, tropics and traditions around the world as represented in our exhibition and conservatories. As students explore, they use postcards to record their observations, then add their own designs to the front. Postcards are formatted for mailing. All you need is a stamp and an address to send it to a friend!

Download and print the Sketch-Your-Own-Postcards PDF.

Available during Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World.

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!

Download and print the Family Sculpture Hunt!

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.

Hunt for weird and wild plants in our indoor conservatories – from a plant that can trap a frog to a cactus covered in ‘hair.’ As they search for plants from around the world, students answer questions that prompt them to discover more. 

Download and print the Weird and Wild Plants Around the World PDF.

Guided Tour

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

Reduced Group Admission:
$4.00 / Student, Plus Additional $1.00 / Student

A minimum of ten students and two weeks preregistration is required. 

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

Offered in September and October, this tour is a perfect way to learn colors, sizes, shapes and number skills while exploring our plant conservatories. Children will participate in a variety of hands-on activities.

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 1-hour outdoor tour focuses on exploring the 8-acre Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden. Students will learn about the traditional elements and structures used in a Japanese garden, and discover the thought-provoking Contemporary sculptures that make our Japanese Garden so unique. Students should dress for the weather.

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.

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.

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.

This tour focuses on comparing nativity scenes from six countries or regions around the world.  Students will learn how each nativity is similar to the others, and yet distinct - they differ in their choice of materials and the elements of the story that they emphasize.  Each tells us something unique about the culture from which they came.   This tour is available during our annual Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World exhibition.

Students become globe-trotting explorers this season by investigating holiday traditions which span the globe. Students will learn how holidays vary by region and tradition as well as how many similarities the holidays share. Students use their observation skills to discover the meaning behind the displays and decorations. This tour is available during our annual Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World exhibition.

Classroom Activity

  • 45-60 minute classroom activity

Reduced Group Admission:
$4.00 / Student Plus Additional $1.00 / Student

A minimum of ten students and two weeks preregistration is required. 

Classroom activities allow a teacher to reinforce concepts learned on one of our guided tours with a related classroom lesson.  Groups may also participate in classroom activities independently of a guided tour.  Cost includes room rental, materials, and instruction fees. 

Choose from the following:

Description: Let’s go out on a limb and think about plants like we never have before! In this program, students will review the function of roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits by playing a mystery game comparing plant parts to relatable human-made objects with similar functions such as a garden hose or anchor. Students then learn about the nutritional value of different plant parts that we eat and use what they have learned to create their own yummy fantasy plant.

Availability: Available days & times: Monday through Friday; times based on availability of classroom space

Program Length: 45 minutes

Reservation Requirements: Minimum of 10 students and two weeks preregistration required

Capacity: Up to 40 students per session (multiple sessions may be scheduled for larger groups)

Cost: Additional $1.00 per student per session after Reduced Group Admission

Recommended age level: Grades K-2; materials and instructional techniques are adapted to grade level

Objectives:

  • Students will learn about plant parts and their structure and functions by connecting with analogies to everyday objects.
  • Students will use what they have learned about the nutritional value of various plant parts to design their own yummy fantasy plant.

Curriculum Connections:

  • NGSS: 1-LS1A Structure and Function

Students will discover that butterfly wings are not just beautiful—they’re critical to survival. Students will learn how butterflies fly and how their wings help to keep them safe from predators. Students will also observe pinned specimens and discover wings that are perfectly clear (providing camouflage) and wings 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 participate in a critical thinking activity, using their observation skills and their new knowledge of butterfly wings to become “butterfly detectives.” This program pairs well with a self-led tour during Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming (March through April) but can be scheduled any time during the year.

Availability: Available days & times: Monday through Friday; times based on availability of classroom space

Program Length: 45 minutes

Reservation Requirements: Minimum of 10 students and two weeks preregistration required

Capacity: Up to 40 students per session (multiple sessions may be scheduled for larger groups)

Cost: Additional $1.00 per student per session after Reduced Group Admission

Recommended age level: Grades 3-5; materials and instructional techniques are adapted to grade level

Objectives:

  • Students will learn about the structure and function of butterfly wings and how different species use their wings to survive.
  • Students will use what they have learned about butterfly wings to critically examine butterfly specimens and draw conclusions in a “butterfly detective” style activity.

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Next Generation Science Standards:

  • 3-Ls3-1 Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
  • 3-Ls4-2 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Become an engineer, fabricator and artist while working with a team to create a sculpture using scrap metal pieces. While viewing and discussing the works of Mark di Suvero, students will explore 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 are then challenged to work cooperatively in small groups to build a sculpture following a set of parameters and creatively incorporate the design principles discussed during the presentation. Students title their sculptures and display them in a mock exhibition. This program pairs well with the Sculpture Park Tour but can be scheduled independently.

Availability: Available days & times: Monday through Friday; times based on availability of classroom space

Program Length: 60 minutes

Reservation Requirements: Minimum of 10 students and two weeks preregistration required

Capacity: Up to 40 students per session (multiple sessions may be scheduled for larger groups)

Cost: Additional $1.00 per student per session after Reduced Group Admission

Recommended age level: Grades 4-12; materials and instructional techniques are adapted to grade level

Objectives:

  • Students will explore structure and balance to cooperatively create an assemblage using the principles of additive design
  • Students will work cooperatively to problem-solve and include a kinetic component in their finished sculpture

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Merit Curriculum: Standards for Visual Arts:

  • Standard 1: Apply skills and knowledge to perform in the arts
  • Standard 2: Apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts
  • Standard 3: Analyze, describe and evaluate works of art

Did you know that butterflies taste with their feet? How much does a monarch caterpillar grow in 2 weeks? In this program, students learn about metamorphosis while creating a multi-media diagram using pasta to portray the four stages of the butterfly life cycle. Fascinating factoids about each stage are shared. Concepts discussed include insect anatomy, camouflage and other amazing defensive and adaptation strategies. This program pairs well with a self-led tour during Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming (March through April) but can be scheduled any time during the year.

Availability: Available days & times: Monday through Friday; times based on availability of classroom space

Program Length: 45 minutes

Reservation Requirements: Minimum of 10 students and two weeks preregistration required

Capacity: Up to 40 students per session (multiple sessions may be scheduled for larger groups)

Cost: Additional $1.00 per student per session after Reduced Group Admission

Recommended age level: Grades K-3; materials and instructional techniques are adapted to grade level

Objectives:

  • Students will be able to define, describe and represent the four stages of butterfly metamorphosis.
  • Students will compare and contrast similarities and differences in traits among butterfly species.
  • Students will be able to provide examples of adaptations and defensive strategies used by butterflies to survive in their habitats.

Curriculum Connections:

  • NGSS: 1-LS3-1 Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
  • NGSS: 1-LS1-1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

Extend the learning with a special classroom activity where students will 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. This program pairs well with the Nativities Around The World: A Cultural Comparison Tour.

Availability: Featured during Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World: Monday through Friday, November 20,2018 through January 6, 2019

Program Length: 45 minutes

Reservation Requirements: Minimum of 10 students and two weeks preregistration required

Capacity: Up to 30 students per session (multiple sessions may be scheduled for larger groups)

Cost: Additional $1.00 per student per session after Reduced Group Admission

Recommended age level: Grades K-12; materials and instructional techniques are adapted to grade level

Objective:

  • Students will apply the cultural traditions and inspirations they have learned about szopka to work collaboratively to create a class szopka using recycled materials.

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Merit Curriculum Standards for Visual Arts:

  • ART.VA.IV.K.2 Identify and talk about artwork found around the world.
  • ART.VA.I.5.4 Participate in the process and delivery of a final product for exhibition or presentation.
  • ART.VA.IV.6.1 Recognize and describe how art contributes to and reflects all societies and cultures.
  • ART.VA.IV.HS.1 Observe and describe artwork with respect to history and culture.

Michigan Social Studies Grade Level Content Expectations:

  • 1 – G4.0.1: Human Systems

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 during Diwali.  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.  This program pairs well with the Holiday Traditions Around the World Tour.

Availability: Featured during Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World: Monday through Friday, November 20,2018 through January 6, 2019

Program Length: 45 minutes

Reservation Requirements: Minimum of 10 students and two weeks preregistration required

Capacity: Up to 40 students per session (multiple sessions may be scheduled for larger groups)

Cost: Additional $1.00 per student per session after Reduced Group Admission

Recommended age level: Grades K-12; materials and instructional techniques are adapted to grade level

Objective: Students will apply the cultural traditions and techniques they have learned to create a rangoli to take home using natural materials.

Curriculum Connections:

Michigan Merit Curriculum Standards for Visual Arts:

  • ART.VA.IV.K.2 Identify and talk about artwork found around the world.
  • ART.VA.I.5.4 Participate in the process and delivery of a final product for exhibition or presentation.
  • ART.VA.IV.6.1 Recognize and describe how art contributes to and reflects all societies and cultures.
  • ART.VA.IV.HS.1 Observe and describe artwork with respect to history and culture.

Michigan Social Studies Grade Level Content Expectations:

  • 1 – G4.0.1: Human Systems

School Program

  • 90-minute, curriculum-based
    interactive experience
  • A minimum of 20 students and
    two weeks pre-registration is required. 

Reduced Group Admission:
$4.00 / Student, Plus Additional $2.00 / Student

Curriculum-based, hands-on educational activities led by experienced teachers. Choose 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!

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.

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

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.

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

Kids’ Tram Program

  • 45-minute, curriculum-based 
    interactive experience.
  • Minimum of 20 students
    and two weeks preregistration
    is required.

Reduced Group Admission:
$4 / Student,
Plus Additional $2.00 / Student

Board the Kids’ Tram for an interactive, engaging and unique educational experience. Themes can be adapted for a variety of age levels and include:

We’ll be Comin’ Round the Gardens on this sing-sational Kids’ Tram tour.  Students will have the opportunity to participate in rhythms, rounds, rhymes and raps as they roll along; learning about sculptures through fun and familiar songs such as The Wheels on the Tram and Did you Ever See a Spider.  

In Let’s Get Moving, students will learn about sculpture through movement and fun. They will practice balance next to Galileo’s Wedge, move geometrically like Five Lines and learn the best ways to get their heart pumping a la Scarlatti. Students will strengthen their muscles, their heart and their brain! All activities can also be done seated as well.

During this tram program, students will journey around the Sculpture Park and discover who needs water and why. Along the way, they will have the opportunity to move like a fish, imitate a bird, and become part of a “frog chorus.” They will also learn about the many sources of water and why water is an important resource.

This tram program will take students on an incredible journey around the Sculpture Park – learning about sculptures and plants, and using their imaginations. Riders will imagine they are a mountain stream, flowing swiftly around rocks and boulders, then pretend to sprout roots, and grow branches like a great White Pine tree – Michigan’s state tree. Follow up this unique tram ride with a special Imagination Looking Guide to use in the Children’s Garden.

By traveling through the Sculpture Park students will learn a variety of tree-mendous tree facts.  Which trees are used to make baseball bats, musical instruments and Popsicle sticks? Students will also use puppets to identify the creatures that live in trees and learn why leaves change color. 

Registration

  • Please fill out the Field Trip Registration Form available HERE.

 

To schedule a field trip, complete a Registration Request Form. All field trips must be scheduled 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 confirmation email, then you may consider your field trip scheduled. If applying for a scholarship, groups must first have a confirmed field trip scheduled. 

Please make note of the Meijer Gardens Field Trip Policies HERE.

Scholarships

If you are interested in a scholarship, please complete the form available HERE

Scholarship funds and transportation assistance is available to groups with a confirmed field trip. Scholarships are awarded to Title I schools in which 40% or more of students meet the federal guidelines & qualifications for additional supportive services. Scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Two scholarships are available for eligible applicants. The transportation scholarship helps defray bus costs while the admissions scholarship reduces the entrance fee. Download the scholarship application and email completed applications to fieldtrips@meijergardens.org 
Please note, teachers may be granted only one Meijer Gardens scholarship award per fiscal year (October 1- September 30).

Please see our field trip policies for further details.

Eating Options

There are several eating options for field trips including boxed lunches from our Balk Café, a rented classroom, and outdoor public eating area.

Eating Outdoors
  • Please note that our outdoor picnic pavilions are currently unavailable due to our expansion project and the ongoing construction of our new Welcome Center. A public outdoor eating area will be available at the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater through May 15, 2019. This space is available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved. Limited lunchroom rentals are also available. Please inquire about eating options for all field trips taking place after May 15, 2019.
  • Sack lunches are not permitted in any other outdoor area.
  • For your convenience, your lunches may be unloaded and left in the Bus Buddy Nook in our temporary 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 email fieldtrips@meijergardens.org for rental fee pricing. A deposit is necessary. 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.
  • Indoor public eating space can be found in our Covenant Learning Center. This eating area is first-come, first-served and is not reservable.
Balk 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. Please email fieldtrips@meijergardens.org for pricing and availability. 
  • If ordering lunches from the cafe, fax the request 10 days prior to the field trip. The outdoor patio is for café customers only.