Earth Friends Outdoors Homeschool Program

REGISTRATION for Full Year and Fall CLASSES opens May 16!

Our all-outdoor classes are designed to connect children engaged in homeschooling, unschooling, or distance learning with the natural world through hands-on, child-led experiences.

 

In Earth Friends Outdoors, all classes:

  • engage in hikes, live animal encounters, and on-trail investigations across Irvine’s 211 acres.
  • spend their entire class time outdoors except for inclement weather and during forays into our exhibit hall.
  • use ancestral practices to stay warm in the elements- build or use existing shelters to protect from the wind and cold, movement, fire, and warm drink.
  • are led by 2 wonder-filled educator guides in small class sizes (12-15 students).
Trimester, full-year, and stand-alone monthly classes offered! Please see details below.

TRIMESTER-LONG CLASSES

Join us for a 12-week Fall or Spring series, or 5-week Winter mini-mester – develop and nurture strong relationships with the land and a regular group of peers and guides. All Earth Friends classes offer opportunities for play- and place-based learning. Irvine Days and the Art and Science of the Land classes also incorporate multiple areas of learning including math, science social studies (natural history), literature, creative arts, and physical development. Classes also provide documentation to aide in homeschool portfolio reviews and offer one possible makeup class at the end of the trimester, in the event of any class cancellations. Our full cancellation policy is available here.

Health and Safety are paramount at Irvine. Weather appropriate gear is mandatory. This includes layers, snow pants, waterproof outer layer and boots, hats, and multiple pairs of waterproof mittens/gloves. Rainboots and raingear are strongly encouraged, as needed year-round. A recommended gear list will be provided before class begins. We will determine any COVID-19 related policies closer to the program start date. Find our Spring 2023 policies below.

Pricing Information

  • All Earth Friends Outdoors classes are eligible for a member discount. Homeschool families qualify for an Educator membership, which can be purchased for $40 and includes the same benefits as the Pacesetter level, including 10% discount on homeschool programs. View all Irvine membership benefits here. 
  • A sibling discount is available to families enrolling more than one child in an Earth Friends Outdoors trimester class. Each additional child enrolled is entitled to 5% off. Please note that sibling discounts are not applicable to the drop-in Bauer Explorers class. When registering, please select “Pay in Installments.” Your discount will be applied to your second payment.
  • Earn a full-year discount when registering for all three trimesters of Earth Friends Outdoors and get an additional 10% off your registration. Discount will be applied to the full-year price. Full-year registrations must be completed by 09/11/23 in order to qualify.

If this payment schedule is a hardship for you, please reach out to Laura Ferrara at FerraraL@ExploreNautre.org to discuss alternative payment options.

FOREST EXPLORERS (AGES 4.5-7 YRS*)

The trees, animals, and seasons are our guides as we play and learn in nature. Modeled after Forest Kindergarten, there are no pre-set lesson plans as we organically discover and learn with what the trails present us each day! We explore ponds and streams, play in the meadow, climb trees, and develop a deep respect for the natural world as we grow to love and trust one another. In our all outdoor gatherings we collect natural items, listen to and create our own stories, build shelters and fires, record our learning in our journals, and create nature art all while emphasizing mindfulness, compassion, and gratitude for the land and its inhabitants. Two sections offered. Meets Wednesdays, 9:30-12:30 OR 1:30-4.

*Child must be 4.5 yr old within 1 month of the start of the class and may not turn 8 yr old within 2 months of the start of the class.

ART & SCIENCE OF THE LAND (AGES 8-12YRS*)

Discover the fascinating secrets of Irvine’s 200+ acres of land through STEM meets arts integration projects. We’ll explore and replicate eco artists like Holt, Smithson, Goldsworthy, Christo, Kidner and more. The students will blend ephemeral (non-permanent) art and natural materials with environmental forces, such as wind, water, ice and sunlight. Concepts from biology, physics, plant and soil science, and topography will guide “how” and “what” we create. In this unique study of environmental arts, we will decipher the possible damage that could be inflicted on the land vs. the “cause no harm” approach of sustainable arts. Two sections offered. Meets Wednesdays, 9:30-12:30 OR 1:30-4.

*Child must be 8 yr old within 1 month of the start of the class and may not turn 13 yr old within 2 months of the start of the class.

IRVINE DAYS – FULL DAYS (AGES 6-11YRS*)

Students in this new full-year*, 5-hour class will explore the woods, meadows and waterways to learn and play in nature’s classroom through each season. Our daily destinations change as we combine outdoor education, nature awareness and ancestral skills, nurturing our connection to the land. Topics may include:

  • Naturalist knowledge of flora and fauna
  • Fort and shelter building
  • Fire building and outdoor cooking
  • Nature arts, crafts, tools use
  • STEM concepts and nature tinkering
  • Storytelling
  • Foraging
  • Leadership, social connection and fostering a culture of community

This mixed age class will allow for both whole group inquiry driven learning and small group work based on interest and experience. We will break for lunch and snack that students must bring from home.
*We strongly encourage students to sign up for the whole year to benefit from longer term relationships with peers, teachers, and the land, but semester enrollment is available.
 Meets Thursdays, 9:30-2:30. 

*Child must be 6 yr old within 1 month of the start of the class and may not turn 12 yr old within 2 months of the start of the class.

TRIMESTER CLASS SCHEDULE FALL (12-weeks) WINTER (5-weeks) SPRING (12-weeks) COST
FOREST EXPLORERS (AGES 4.5-7YRS)

Wednesdays, 9:30-12:30

CLASS IS FULL 9/13- 12/6

(no class 11/22)

1/10-2/7

 

2/21-5/15

(no class 3/27)

$604 (Fall or Spring)

$252 (Winter)

FOREST EXPLORERS (AGES 4.5-7YRS)

Wednesdays, 1:30-4

CLASS IS FULL 9/13- 12/6

(no class 11/22)

 

n/a

 

2/21-5/15

(no class 3/27)

$503 (Fall or Spring)
ART & SCIENCE OF THE LAND (AGES 8-12YRS)

Wednesdays, 9:30-12:30

CLASS IS FULL 9/13- 12/6

(no class 11/22)

1/10-2/7 2/21-5/15

(no class 3/27)

$604 (Fall or Spring)

$252 (Winter)

ART & SCIENCE OF THE LAND (AGES 8-12YRS)

Wednesdays, 1:30-4

CLASS IS FULL 9/13- 12/6

(no class 11/22)

n/a 2/21-5/15

(no class 3/27)

$503 (Fall or Spring)
IRVINE DAYS (AGES 6-11YRS)

Thursdays, 9:30-2:30

CLASS IS FULL  9/14-12/7

(no class 11/23)

1/11-2/8 2/22-5/16

(no class 3/28)

$1006 (Fall or Spring)

$419.50 (Winter)

Please note, full year enrollment in a Wednesday afternoon class includes a change in time for the winter trimester. For winter only, all Wednesday classes will be held in the morning (9:30-12:30). If the morning time will not work for your family, please do not sign up for full year.

If interested in a full year class for your child but they will age out during that year, or if you are interested in registering for a program that is already underway, please contact Stephanie Holzman, Head of Homeschool Programs at HolzmanS@ExploreNature.org.

BAUER EXPLORERS: MONTHLY ENRICHMENT AFTERNOONS

Registration for Bauer Explorers will open May 30, 2023.

If you are looking for occasional classes for your homeschooler, Bauer Explorers is perfect! Join a small group of nature loving kids as they learn through exploration throughout Irvine’s 211 acres. Offered select Tuesdays throughout the year. Register for a specific date, or sign up for the year-long series and get a 10% discount! Membership discounts apply! All classes are drop-off.

BAUER EXPLORERS (for 5-9YRS) – VIEW DATES & REGISTER

This 2.5 hour class is designed to connect children with seasonal nature study, creative arts and messy maths exploration. We promote respect for plants, animals, the land, and each other through a nurturing environment. Hikes, live animal encounters, and open-ended wild nature play are integral to our learning each session. Non-member price: $364.50/year or $45/session 

BAUER EXPLORERS (for 10-14YRS) – VIEW DATES & REGISTER

During this 2 hour class, we engage in place-based learning and hiking. Students will explore many topics such as land stewardship, wild plant identification and recipes, and natural arts. Non-member price: $324/year or $40/session

What Families Are Saying

We love all the teachers!! Both kids feel very comfortable and safe in their care and free to go on adventures and get wild. I really appreciate that the teachers bring their authentic selves and interests and really connect with the kids and enjoy the journeys. Lots of cool book selections. A great blend of planned experiments/info giving for context as well as exploring and open ended experimenting and discovery.

Emily T., Earth Friends Parent