The South Coast Wilderness Education program provides free nature programs to more than 4,500 children per year. Click on the tabs above to learn more about education programs for specific grades.
Second Grade Program
Our second grade program takes place at Little Sycamore Staging area, also known as the Nix Nature Center. Students learn about rocks, dirt and minerals through hands-on activities that get their hands dirty and their minds sharpened! Along Mary’s Trail, students will use all of their senses to look, listen and feel for different plants and animals and complete a scavenger hunt that teaches them about biodiversity. Before leaving the park, students complete an art activity that illustrates the different forms a caterpillar will take on its journey to becoming a butterfly.
Third Grade Program
The fun and educational third grade curriculum introduces the concept of plant and animal adaptations. While hiking, we provide examples of adaptations, and point out the differences among various species and how these variations offer advantages for survival in the wild. The students hike Mary’s Trail to learn about adaptations, participate in a binocular “safari” to view local wildlife, and proceed to Barbara’s Lake to experience Orange County’s only natural lake. Activities also include a native plant scavenger hunt and a fun rabbit activity that illustrates the concept of camouflage in nature. To reinforce the concept of animal adaptations, the children handle local animal skins and skulls belonging to deer, coyote, and bobcat. This program takes place at the Nix Nature Center, the gateway to the South Coast Wilderness Area.
Fourth Grade Program
Our exciting fourth grade program is built around the concept of habitat components. While hiking, we will explore various types of habitats illustrating the ecological principle that all living things require food, water, shelter, and space in a suitable arrangement in order to survive. We will discuss food webs, shaded versus non-shaded slopes, decomposition, oak tree habitats, and more. Students hike Laurel Canyon at the Willow staging area in Laguna Beach and visit cave trails at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park in Aliso Viejo.
In our culmination program, the students will build upon their knowledge of adaptations, habitat components, decomposition, food webs, and natural resources. With this in mind, the students learn more about the inner workings of a habitat and how it functions as a whole. We introduce the concepts of erosion, rock types, human impact, and stewardship, while continuing to review past concepts such as adaptations.
Fifth Grade Program
Our fifth grade program is focused on health and nutrition in nature. Students begin their day with a brief overview of the workings of the human digestive system and what takes place when they eat something. From there, students learn a mix between the science of nutrition as well as the environmental and economical side to shopping. Students participate in an activity in which they learn the difference in the minerals provided in a healthy meal versus a fast food meal as well as learning what the minerals they consume do to help them live. After learning about calories, BMR and what kind of portions are suited for them, students begin to learn where their food comes from. With a bit of math and a quick discussion about farming practices, local vs foreign produce and transportation effects, students are in charge to try to shop for not only healthy food, but meals that can help reduce the carbon footprint of meals. Throughout the day students also participate in games that are sure to give them a great workout for the day while taking home great knowledge to help them eat well and live a healthy life.