Hands-on, minds-on! Make a Portland Park your outdoor classroom. Classes led by nature educators meet in Portland Parks and teach Pacific Northwest ecology. Students learn through exploration, questions, and play.
Classes are currently on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please see Portland Parks & Recreation's COVID-19 Updates page.
City Nature Explorers classes (ages 6-9)
Parks are a great place to learn about nature. We can easily find many of the birds, mammals, plants, trees, and non-living things that we find in our backyard. Children are open to learning when their curiosity level is high. Our goal as nature educators is to help each child create their own meaning and understanding about nature. We do this through social activities, discussion, games, questions, and play.
Our City Nature Explorers classes are hands-on lessons in nature, about nature.
- Topics include plants, animals, and concepts we encounter every day.
- Lessons are in small groups with hands-on activities.
- Science and nature topics line up with common science units.
- Classes are active, social, and immersive.
- Our educators make learning fun!
Classes are 100% outdoors at a local park or natural area and take place rain or shine! We welcome all types of learners who are ages 6-9:
- Home-schooled students
- Students on a school break
- Distance learners with the afternoon available
Pay What You Can
We know that cost may be a barrier to some members of our community. If you cannot pay the full cost, use the discounts at check-out to pay what you can.
Full cost of each class is $24 per child. Use discounts to reduce the cost to $21, $18, or $15 per child.
Click on the links below to register for an upcoming class.
No classes scheduled at this time.
Class behavior expectations
We try to make each class fun for everyone by asking participants to follow four expectations:
- Be safe (in your words and actions)
- Be respectful (to yourself, to each other, to nature)
- Listen (to the leaders, to each other, to nature)
- Have fun!
Additionally, Portland Parks requires that all participants refrain from the following:
- All forms of harassment
- Defacing property (structures, land or equipment)
- Disruptive or disorderly behavior
- Improper use of restrooms
- Offensive physical contact
- Inflicting harm or hurting self or others
- Using or being under the influence of any intoxicating substance
- Using profanity, teasing or ridiculing others
- Violation of any federal, state or local statute or ordinance
Steps taken when children start to display a pattern of negative behavior:
- Remind child of the rules
- Redirect unsuitable behavior
- Switch children out of groups that seem to feed negative behavior
- Discuss any underlying issues with child
- Separate children for a time from the group
- Create a mutual behavior contract
- Reach out to parents or guardians for ideas and support
If above steps do not help, the camper will get two more chances to change their behavior:
- Verbal warning #1: Child is separated from the group as much as possible. Next steps are explained to the camper.
- Verbal warning #2: Call made to parents to inform of the situation. The child has one more chance. At this point parents should be ready to pick up their child early if needed.
- Done for the day: If negative behavior continues, calls are made to parents to come and take their child home early. Formal incident report is filled out and kept on file.
- Done for the school year: If negative behaviors continue on another day of programming, parents will be called to pick up the child. The child will not be returning to class during this school year.
If a child is sent home more than once due to negative or unsafe behavior, parents will be called to discuss refunds for any additional days of class.
What to bring to class
Our program is active, our parks are hilly, and we are outside the entire time. To help your child have a good day, get them packed up with what they need. If you think your child might need a change of clothes, pack them in a large Ziploc bag.)
Children should come to the program with the following:
- Warm layers of clothing, hat and mittens
- Rain coat, rain pants, rain boots
- Substantial snack (Classes are active and children tend to be hungry)
- Water bottle (big enough to hold at least 16 oz of water)
- Comfortable backpack that’s a logical size for your camper. It will hold snacks, lunch, a water bottle and extra layers.
- A completed health form for each child attending