Spring School Signups

Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center’s spring programs offer unique opportunities for hands-on environmental education and recreation. Our experienced educators allow learners the opportunity to explore subjects and habitats through focused, inquiry-based programs, taking advantage of the magic of the spring season.

Please join us this spring for one of the many field trip opportunities offered for schools and organized groups. Our goal is to provide quality learning experiences that are both educational and engaging, using the outdoors as the classroom. Please note that our fee waiver policy sets aside limited funds for individual students. Classes are offered on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Please call (413) 659-3714 or (800) 859-2960 to register.

All environmental school programs support the Massachusetts Science Frameworks. For more information contact Kim Noyes, School Environmental Programs Coordinator: (413) 659-4462.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

This program is designed specifically for the open and curious minds of young children. Using the outdoors as the classroom, young children discover the colors, shapes, textures, sounds and smells of this season of rebirth. Hands-on activities and sensory exploration take place in a safe and playful environment. Join us in exploring the fields and forests during this exciting season of change.

Incredible Insects

Join us and explore the six and eight-legged wonders that abound in our fields. Students will have the opportunity to collect, observe, draw and release insects and spiders. A variety of activities will introduce the amazing adaptations, life cycles and ecology of one of the most successful groups of animals on earth – incredible insects.

Signs of Spring

Soon to come alive and awaken with signs of spring, the forests and fields at Northfield provide an exciting outdoor classroom for students to discover the world around them. A variety of hands-on activities are used to explore signs of spring with a focus on birds and wildflowers. The emphasis for 1st and 2nd grade is sensory exploration and discovery. For grade 3 and above, the emphasis is on ecology and adaptation.

Pond Probe

This is one of Northfield’s most popular programs. Explore the amazing world of a pond in spring. From aquatic insects to salamanders to microscopic invertebrates, this program provides a unique opportunity to observe live animals up close. Students examine the underwater world of a small pond using collecting nets, field guides and magnifiers. Environmental ethics, pond ecology, observation skills, and adaptations of the unique inhabitants of a pond are the focus of this program. Children collect, observe and release their aquatic animals back into the pond. Pre- and post-visit curriculum materials are available.

The hands on experience was priceless and crucial to our study of the habitat. This experience created a whole new energy for learning and research about the pond!
—1st grade teacher, Sheffield Elementary


Opportunities are available for teachers to lead their own orienteering program using the permanent course at Northfield Mountain after teaching the necessary skills in their classroom. Guidelines for teachers interested in leading their own orienteering program using Northfield Mountain’s permanent orienteering course: Use of Northfield’s orienteering course is available to school groups Wed. – Fri. 9:00am – 4:00pm beginning in mid-April. A teacher or a group leader must reserve their use of the orienteering course in advance. Northfield Mountain staff will not be available to instruct your students. However, we will assist you in planning logistics for your group’s use of the orienteering course.

  • Availability: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, mid-April to October
  • Students must be accompanied by an adult chaperone while using Northfield Mountain’s orienteering course. Organizing your students into groups (3 to 5 students working together) creates a small group activity which is effective for learning orienteering.
  • Orienteering maps are available for $2.00 per map. Compasses may be rented for $1.00 per compass while your group is at Northfield Mountain.
  • Indoor classroom space is not available so please plan instructional units accordingly.

We will continue to offer support for teachers interested in leading their own orienteering program. An instructional activity packet designed to help you teach map reading and orienteering skills at your school is available for $6.00 (plus $3.85 postage & handling).

Fishway School Program: Fins and Ladders

Visit the Turners Falls Fishway for a watchable wildlife experience. This program focuses on migratory fish of the Connecticut River, and the fish ladders that help these fish bypass the dam. A variety of activities will introduce anadromous fish and the challenges of their upstream journey. These fascinating fish are born in the river or its tributaries, migrate to the ocean and return as adults to spawn in the river of their birth. American shad and sea lamprey can often be seen swimming by the viewing windows. Hands-on activities and an opportunity for possible wildlife viewing make this an exciting program for all ages. Pre- and post-visit curriculum materials are available.

  • Science and Technology Standards Applicable: Earth Science (PreK – 2) # 1 / Life Science (PreK – 2) # 1, # 3, # 6, # 8, (Grades 3 – 5) # 3
  • All Grades
  • Group Size: 30 (15/1 student/adult ratio)
  • Available: Wed., Thu., Fri.,
  • One hour programs at 9:30, 10:45 or 1:00
  • mid-May to mid-June
  • Fee: Free

“As always the program beautifully fit the standards and developmental stages of the learners”
—1st grade teacher, Hatfield Elementary

To schedule a program at the Barrett Fishway in Holyoke, please call (413) 536-9474.
A visit to the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls is a wonderful complement to “Fins and Ladders.” Phone: 413-863-3221

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder; he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
—Rachael Carson