Day Programs for Pre-K through Grade 3
Students investigating aquatic macroinvertebrates

School Day Programs at Shaw Nature Reserve have been suspended for the remainder of 2020.

Our programs are designed to immerse students in inquiry, exploration, and problem solving while experiencing the Missouri landscape. Just 45 minutes from St. Louis, but a world away for young minds…

Shaw Nature Reserve classes vary in duration from 1 to 2 hours, but all include hands-on learning and active discovery of nature and the great outdoors. We encourage you to schedule two classes with a lunch in between to make the most out of your Shaw Nature Reserve experience.

Required Chaperones:
Required chaperones attend free of charge. For grades PreK–3, 1 adult per 8 students is required.

Classes cost $2 per student. 

Important: All groups, whether led by a Reserve Instructor or self-guided by a teacher, must make reservations for their visit.

To schedule a program, call (314) 577-9523 or email

Registration begins:

  • November 1 for Spring Classes
  • May 1 for Fall Classes
  • Note: If the first is during a weekend, registration will begin the following Monday

Information needed when you call:

  • School name, address and phone number
  • Contact person’s name for confirmation
  • Program choice(s)—make sure program is available for the month that you request
  • Date and time (please have alternates)
  • Grade, age and number of participants (students and adults)
  • Teacher’s name and home phone number
  • Will you be having lunch at our picnic area?

One month prior to your visit, you will receive a confirmation packet containing important information about your visit, a suggested “Chaperone Letter” and an invoice. Carefully review the confirmation information and call (314) 577-9523  if corrections need to be made. The program fee is due on the day of the class.


  • If you must cancel your trip, please let us know as soon as possible. Other school groups are on a waiting list and are willing to fill your place if they are given enough time to make the necessary arrangements.
  • If it is raining, we suggest that you call and cancel the class, as most classes are extremely difficult to conduct in this situation.

Click on a class title below to expand its description. Please note we cannot accommodate groups over 40 on rainy days due to lack of a building.

Day Classes for PreK–Grade 3

Earthwalks (Grades PreK–5)

(class will be grade appropriate)
Offered September–November and March–May
Length of class: 1–2 hours
Limit: 60 students
Fee: $2
  Examining a rotting logStudents will explore the wonders of the natural world by using their 5 senses. Instructors will lead your students on a walk through diverse ecosystems, and they will use their sense of touch to identify natural objects, sense of hearing to identify birds, and sense of sight to simulate how animals see. This light and comfortable approach to nature can be adapted for different ages.

Missouri Critters (Grades PreK–K)

Offered September & April–May
Length of class: 1 hour
Limit: 24 students
Fee: $2
  A young learner studies a bugLearn about the animals that live at Shaw Nature Reserve and their habitat on a nature walk. Students will learn about diverse animals and what makes them special through hands-on activities.

Plant Connections (Grades 1–3)

Offered September & April
Length of class: 2 hours
Limit: 60 students
Fee: $2
  Kids exploring the forestLearn about how plants rely on animals for pollination and seed dispersal. Students will also learn about the plants that animals depend on for their survival.

On the Creek Banks (Grades 1-3)

Offered September
Length of class: 2 hours
Limit: 60 students
Fee: $2
  Female mallard with ducklingsThis class is based on On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder and focuses on creek exploration. Students will learn about what lives in and around Brush Creek at the Nature Reserve.

Our Forest Neighbors (Grades 1–3)

Offered April
Length of class: 2 hours
Limit: 60 students
Fee: $2
  LeafWho lives in Missouri’s forests? Explore the forest ecosystem and learn about the native residents. Students will learn about the unique adaptations of forest animals and how they survive in this special habitat.

Little Houses on the Prairie (Grades 1–3)

Offered October
Length of class: 2 hours
Limit: 60 students
Fee: $2
  Sod house and tipiExperience what life was like for early prairie settlers through activities based on Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Excerpts from the book will be matched with hands-on activities, so that students get a glimpse into the lives of early Missouri residents.

In Plain Sight (Grades 1–3)

Offered November & March
Length of class: 2 hours
Limit: 60 students
Fee: $2
  Cricket Frog Learn about camouflage through a series of fun games and activities. Students will discover the importance of camouflage for both predators and prey in their daily struggle to survive. They will also learn about mimicry and how some animals use this adaptation to fool potential predators.

Water's Edge (Grades 1–3

Offered September
Length of class: 2 hours
Limit: 60 students
Fee: $2
  Students and chaperones at the water's edgeExplore aquatic and terrestrial communities through hands-on activities based on Around the Pond: Who’s Been Here by Lindsay Barrett George. Students will compare and contrast aquatic and terrestrial turtles, birds, and insects.