Homeschool Classes | Field Trips | Getting There
A 2000-acre park offering miles of trails and many lakes for year-round outdoor sports, recreation and environmental education.
Park naturalists create a hands-on environment for homeschool students to learn about and experience nature at homeschool programs offered on the first Wednesday of each month at the Lebanon Hills Visitor Center Discovery Room.
Homeschool Lab: Get in depth with hands on, scientific experimentation, inquiry and study using the park as your lab. Equipment provided.
Homeschool Recreation: Learn new recreational skills and try them out in a park setting. Equipment provided.
Cost per Child/Student: $8
Target Age Range: monthly homeschool classes are designed for ages 6–12 years
Sibling Policy: Siblings cannot be accommodated. All children in attendance must be between the ages 6 and 12 years and enrolled in the class.
Parent/Guardian/Educator Policy: These are drop-off programs. Signed waiver with signature by parent or legal guardian required for all participants and is completed through online registration or in person at check-in.
For more information, contact Dakota County Parks at 952-891-7000 or the Lebanon Hills Visitor Center at 651-554-6530 or visit co.dakota.mn.us/parks/Lists/Calendar/calendar.aspx or limit type to “Homeschool” at web2.vermontsystems.com/wbwsc/mndakotactywt.wsc/search.html
Dakota County provides specialized nature activities to groups of any age. A group of up to 60 people can select a topic that is customized to your group's needs. Private Nature Programs are taught by park naturalists who are experts in their field and who make learning about nature a fun, hands-on experience.
Minimum group size: 10
Maximum group size: 60
Costs: Group size may be limited based on equipment availability.
10–20 participants: $85 ($8.50–$4.25/participant)
21–40 participants: $130 ($6.19–$3.25/participant)
41–60 participants: $190 ($6.63–$3.17/participant)
An additional equipment fee of $50 may apply for recreation-based programs.
The program fee does not include use of a park facility.
Field Trips Topic
Programs are 1 to 2 hours in length, depending on age.
- Animal Adaptations all year
K, 1st and 3rd grades. Explore the world of Minnesota's animals and the adaptations that help them survive in the wild. Students will observe and compare how different animals interact with varied environments.
- Archery April–October
4th grade and up. Draw, take aim and release. Learn the basics of archery and wrok on your skills and techniques at this introductory class. Group size limited to 30 or less. Spring Lake Park Reserve.
- Badge Work for Scouts
Work with a park naturalist to complete a science or nature badge for your scout troop.
- Canoeing May–October
5th grade and up. Experience the quiet glide of your paddle through the water. Learn the basis of canoeing and get on the water to practice your new skills with fun games and activities. Group size limited to 30 or less.
- Cross-Country Skiing December–March, conditions permitting
2nd grade and up. Learn about the history of cross country skiing, equipment and technique, and then get on the trails to practice your newly learned skiing skills. Group size limited to 30 or less.
- Connections in Nature all year
K, 1st, 2nd and 7th grades. Life cycles and food chains come to life in this field trip. Students will explore the park as they learn about the roles native animals play to keep the ecosystem healthy.
- Earth Explorers all year
4th, 5th and 8th grades. Discover how landscapes change slowly over time and learn about the processes that shaped Minnesota's landscape, including its 10,000 lakes.
- Exploring Ecosystems all year
K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th grades. Minnesota has four different biomes. Explore what makes each biome unique and conduct a field study of the habitat, plants and animals of the biomes found in Dakota County.
- Fur, Feathers, Fins or Scales? all year
K, 1st, 3rd grades. What makes a bird a bird or a fish a fish? Learn the characteristics of the different classes of animals who call Dakota County Parks home. Students will conduct a field survey to find out where and how they live.
- Geocaching all year
2nd grade and up. Learn the basics of GPS navigation; head out into the park to find up to five unique spots. Once at your spot, record your observations of weather, plants, animals, and other seasonal happenings for the park's phenology log. Group size limited to 30 or less.
- Geology May–October
1st, 4th, 5th, 8th grades. Can you tell a piece of talc from taconite? Learn about the geologic history of Minnesota's rocks and minerals and spend time exploring the geology of Dakota County.
- Insect Investigations May–October
K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd grades. Explore the life cycles of insects and investigate and classify the insects found in the prairie and woods of Dakota County Parks
- Lake Study 101 May–October
1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th grades. Explore the lakeshore by collecting and identifying aquatic critters with dip nets. Students will learn about the importance of aquatic ecosystems, how they can be used as indicators of lake health, and how to identify aquatic organisms.
- Lake Study 102 all year
4th and 5th grades. Explore the physical and chemical traits of the lakes in Dakota County Parks. Hands on experiments and activities will explain the science behind pH and other nutrients found in local waterways, and what they can indicate about our water quality.
- Nature Hikes
Take a guided hike with a park naturalist. Try a night hike to learn about wildlife adaptations.
- Naturalist Presentation
A park naturalist will work with your group to design a nature program on a topic of your choice (ex. birds, wetlands, mammals, wildflowers, etc.).
- Prairie Prowl May–October
K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th grades. Learn about what makes the prairie ecosystem unique and what it provides as you survey the flora and fauna of Dakota County Parks' prairies.
- Soil Science April–October
K, 1st, 5th grades. Get the dirt! Learn about the processes that help create soil. Explore the microscopic world of living soil and the microorganisms needed for healthy soil.
- Snowshoeing December–March, conditions permitting
2nd grade and up. Compare traditional and moder snowshoeing technology by exploring the different materials and designs of snowshoes. Then hit the trail to see if the really do keep you up above the snow! Group size limited to 40 or less.
- Trees, Trees, Trees May–October
K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades. Compare the similarities and differences of trees and plants as you explore Dakota County Parks. Learn how trees (and other plants) grow from seeds and what they require to survive.
- Weather Watchers all year
K, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th grades. You experience weather every day. Learn the history of weather forecasting and then take measurements of today's weather to make a forecast tomorrow.
Registration: Complete the online Private Nature Request Form. Requests are accepted at least 21 days prior to requested date. Program staff will call to confirm program request, scheduling details and number of participants.
Payment Policy: Organizations will be billed when the program is confirmed with the Dakota County Parks Education Coordinator. You will receive a confirmation letter by mail or email. Payment is due within seven days of registration. One invoice will be sent to the billing address at time of registration. It is the organizer's responsibility to make full payment by due date. Activities may be cancelled by Dakota County due to late payment.
Cancellation Policy: Programs are held rain or shine unless cancelled by Dakota County. Private Nature Programs are nonrefundable upon receipt of confirmation unless cancelled by Dakota County Parks. Field trips cancelled by Dakota County are fully refunded.
More information on field trips can be found at www.co.dakota.mn.us/parks/ProgramsEvents/NaturePrograms/Pages/default.aspx.
Driving Directions: The park entrance is about 5 miles east of the intersection of I-35E and Hwy. 77 or 7.5 miles south of the intersection of I-35E and I-494. For more information, visit www.co.dakota.mn.us/parks/parksTrails/LebanonHills.