Ladybug Nature Walks | Custom Group Walks (ages 2-6)

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Ladybug Nature Walks
Our Ladybug Nature Walks are easily customizable to offer your group of young children a chance to explore a nearby park on a day and time that works for you.
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Program Availability Update

We are no longer accepting program applications for any dates March 28-June 10. Our calendar is filled!

COVID-19 Update - Face Coverings

Beginning Saturday, March 12, 2022, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) will no longer require staff and visitors to use face coverings in all PP&R buildings and facilities. Staff and visitors who still wish to wear face coverings may do so, at their own choosing. 

This announcement is in alignment with updated guidelines by the City of Portland and public health guidance from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Multnomah County, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). PP&R notes that guidance and direction from public health authorities and elected officials may change going forward.


General Information - Custom Group Ladybug Walks

We strive to offer culturally responsive and inclusive nature education programs for all ages and abilities. Our hope is that each participant has an opportunity to build on their prior experiences while connecting to each other, the educators, and the world around them.

Custom group Ladybug Walks are a great option for toddler classes, preschool and pre-K classes, or groups of families with young children. Walks last ninety minutes and take place at a nearby Portland park or natural area. Content is geared for children ages 2-6, but siblings under two and a half are welcome to join the walk free of charge.

Ladybug Nature Walks are a way for children ages 2-6 and their accompanying adults to explore a local Portland park. Nature educators guide children in small groups to notice plants and animals. Walks are child-directed and open-ended, and children learn through questions, observation, and play. Groups move slowly through the park, stopping often. In this way, children have time to notice the plants and animals around them. If we have extra time we might also read a story, sing a song, or use puppets for imaginative play.

While exploring with a nature educator, children borrow a small Ladybug backpack containing a few tools that are easy to clean:

  • Magnifying lens
  • Small plastic tub with a lid
  • Metal Spoon
  • Laminated color wheel for matching
  • Plastic Bug box
  • Plastic paintbrush
  • Small toy insect for imaginative play

Still have questions? Email enviroed@portlandoregon.gov or call/text 503-823-1149

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Scheduling a Custom Group Ladybug Walk

We schedule programs Tuesday through Friday, between 9 am – 3:30 pm. Weekend and late afternoon programs are possible if staff capacity and schedules allow. Unfortunately, due to a staff vacancy and limited capacity, we are not available on the weekends until March 2022. Please fill out the program application as early as possible for the best chance at getting your first-choice date.

When and where are programs offered?
We offer custom group Ladybug Walks year-round for children and their accompanying adults. For the best experience, we recommend scheduling a walk sometime between Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving Day. Programs scheduled during December and January can have unpredictable snow, ice, or cold temperatures and have a higher chance of being canceled or postponed.

Available dates are updated on our calendar.

Programs take place in Portland parks and natural areas. View our list of suggested sites.

We also offer weekly Ladybug Nature Walks for ages 0-6 from February through November. Pre-registration is required to participate. Find details and registration links for upcoming Ladybug Nature Walks.

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Our approach with young children

As trained preschool educators, we approach each walk with young children and their grown-ups as an opportunity to

  • Provide the space and time needed so children can be curious
  • Work in small groups so we can learn social and emotional skills associated with
  • Find ways to connect with the adults on the walk to offer support and friendship
  • Model the techniques, language, and tools needed for successful outdoor exploration with young children

The Ladybug Nature Walk program strives to introduce and/or nurture a child’s connection with nature, their peers, the adults around them, and themselves.  

Our methods:

  • We use simple tools and sensory learning to engage with nature.
  • We give children the opportunity to explore in a safe, fun, and developmentally appropriate way.
  • We find ways to say “yes” to children’s natural curiosity and adjust our own expectations and plans as needed.
  • We introduce new concepts and conversations in a way that allows extra time for children to hear, think, process, and respond.
  • We engage with children and their grown-ups at the same time, moving delicately between child-directed exploration and relationship-building.
  • As nature educators, we find ways to be inspired by and learn from the way children think about nature.

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COVID-19: Requirements to participate

All children and adults will need to be able to follow these guidelines to participate in a program:

  • Beginning Saturday, March 12, 2022, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) will no longer require staff and visitors to use face coverings in all PP&R buildings and facilities.Staff and visitors who still wish to wear face coverings may do so at their own choosing. 
  • Please only attend if everyone attending is healthy!
    • If anyone has a positive or presumptive case of COVID-19 or is awaiting results to a COVID test, they should not attend.
    • If anyone is sick with COVID-like symptoms, including new or worsening cough, fever, shortness of breath, or recent loss of taste or smell, they should not attend.
    • Beginning March 12, 2022, quarantine due to exposure is no longer required. A five-day quarantine is still required for a person that has COVID-like symptoms (or tests positive). They may participate once symptoms are resolving and they have been fever-free for 24 hours. 
  • Follow general sanitation guidelines. All participants should wash or sanitize hands when they arrive, after using the bathroom, and after sneezing or coughing.

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Cost for programs

Each participating school or organization should choose the appropriate cost for their situation. The average school or organization pays $5/participant. Schools who qualify for federal funds have a reduced fee. 

Schools and organizations with additional means also have an option to pay for their own participants plus two dollars. The additional revenue help cover the cost for groups who cannot pay the full fee. 

Custom group Ladybug Walks are charged per participant.

Rates for June 2021 – August 2022

  • $1/participant - Schools that qualify for federal funds (Title I and Head Start)
  • $5/participant - Schools/Organizations not qualifying for Title I
  • $7/participant - Schools/Organizations with the means to pay for their own students and help other schools/organizations who cannot pay the fee

Minimum and maximum group sizes

Minimum group sizes

For ages 2-6, programs require a minimum of six children (not including accompanying adults).

Maximum group sizes (not including accompanying adults)

  • Ages 2-3: 18 participants
  • Ages 3-6: 24 participants

Schedule a custom group Ladybug Walk

Visit our "How to schedule a program" page to get started and submit your program application. 

How to schedule an Environmental Education program

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