Two Great Locations, One Organization

Youth Education

Discover and learn on our trails and in the Conservatory. Family adventure backpacks are filled with activities for self-guided fun, such as scavenger hunts and activities for kids pre-K – 3rd grade, and are available during regular business hours from the front desk. We also offer several childrens’ workshops and group programs.

Guided Field Trips 

  • Field trips are led by Matthaei docents. 

  • Docents cover topics from basic botany to adaptations and ecosystems. Some (but not all) potential Guided Tour field trip themes can be found directly below. 

  • Topics are aligned with Michigan benchmarks and Next Generation Science Standards.

  • Scheduled Field trips are available Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Contact Liz Glynn (lizglynn@umich.edu) to reserve a date.
  • Pricing for a one hour conservatory or trails is $3.00/person; pricing for two hour conservatory and trails is $6.00/person, special themed field programs with materials are $8.00/person. Bus parking is $15 per bus.
  • Deposit is due 30 days before arrival. Contact Liz Glynn (lizglynn@umich.edu) or look to our Guided Tour page for more information on pricing.

Self-guided Field Trips

  • Field trips are led by teachers and chaperones. We require a ratio of 1 adult for every 8 students for self guided field trips. 
  • Potential topics range from native plants and species to ecosystems. Find materials and resources for these trips on the self-guided page of our website and descriptions of potential field trips below.
  • Self guided field trips are scheduled Monday-Friday. Reservations are required. Groups without a reservation are welcome to use the trails but may not be able to utilize the gardens or conservatory during their visit. Contact Liz Glynn (lizglynn@umich.edu) to reserve a date.
  • Payment per student is not required. $15 parking fee per bus. Individual drivers must pay for parking ($1.80/hour). Free will donations are welcome and help support guided and self guided field trips. 

Sensory Explorers

Grade(s): K-1

How do leaves, roots, and stems help plants survive? How do plants meet all their needs? During this program, children look, listen, smell, and touch their way to a deeper understanding of a variety of plants. Children will compare plant textures and shapes, explore the diversity of nature, and learn how different plant parts help them survive in their environment. 

All About Plants

Grade(s): 2 

How do trees make more trees? Seeds! In this program students will learn about the parts of a plant, pollination and pollinators, and the life cycle of plants. Students will explore how plants interact with their environment, how animals and plants depend on each other, and different types of pollination and seed dispersal. 

Biomes and Environments

Grade(s): 3

Why don’t banana trees grow in my backyard? What do plants look like in a place with almost no rain? In this program students will explore the different biomes at Matthaei and the organisms that are found there. A collection of various tropical, arid, and temperate plants will demonstrate how plants thrive in different environments and how they have adapted to live in those diverse ecosystems. 

Traits and Habitats

Grade(s): 4 

Why does a venus fly trap feast on flies? Why does a cork tree feel so soft? On this field trip students will learn about the traits that plants inherit from their parents that give them an advantage in their environment. Students will explore how different habitats meet plants’ needs, and how disruptions to these ecosystems impact the rest of the organisms living there.

Energy Flow and Ecosystems

Grade(s): 5-6 

In this program students will learn how energy flows through an entire ecosystem and the important role that plants play in those interactions. Students will explore both the living and the non-living elements that impact energy flow, the interactions among organisms, and how changes to an ecosystem – whether natural or human-made – can impact these organisms.

Plant Survival Guide

Grade(s): 6-7 

How do different strategies for survival ensure plant success? Which plants illustrate unique reproductive strategies? On this field trip students will learn about plant reproduction strategies and explore a wide variety of flowers, ferns, trees, and other plants with unique adaptations to ensure survival.

Humans and Ecosystems

Grade(s): 6-8 

How are plants and animals connected in their native habitat? How do humans impact the natural world? Comparison of ecosystems enables students to understand complex relationships between plants and animals. Exploration of land management for native species addresses human impact on the environment.

Kids playing on a tour of Matthaei Botanical Gardens
Kids on tour of arid house
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