Education Naturally: Nature-based Programs for Elementary Students

Education Naturally is The Riverwood Conservancy’s environmental learning program for students from kindergarten to grade eight. Our half- and full-day programming gives students and their teachers the opportunity to explore Riverwood’s woodlands, meadows, and wetlands along the banks of the Credit River in Mississauga. Education Naturally offers a living laboratory with abundant wildlife, plant life, and geological features. Classroom instruction is also provided in Riverwood’s MacEwan Field Station.

All Education Naturally programs reflect the Ontario Ministry of Education’s science guidelines, and support the goals of the elementary science curriculum. Beyond your time here at Riverwood, Education Naturally offers pre- and post-visit activities teachers can integrate into their in-class lesson plans.

Education Naturally offers a variety of unique programs tailored for different ages and interests.

Specialty Programs

Hot Chocolate and Wild Birds (December – March, Full Day or Half Day)

Students learn about birds native to Mississauga, and craft their own bird feeders that they can take home. Our instructors then lead students outdoors to explore the woodlands, stopping along the trails to hand-feed chickadees. The program wraps up with hot chocolate and stories back inside the MacEwan Field Station.

Art Naturally (September – June, Full Day)

Students spend half their day outdoors, participating in hands-on science initiatives, and half their day inside Visual Arts Mississauga’s studio, creating an art piece to take home. Art Naturally reflects the Ontario Ministry of Education’s guidelines for art and science. Bookings for Art Naturally are coordinated by Visual Arts Mississauga. Please contact Wendy Heagney-Bakewell by phone at 905-277-4313 or email

Stewardship (Fall and Spring, Half Day)

Students gain an understanding of The Riverwood Conservancy’s conservation work at Riverwood. Students help revitalize the park through projects focused on trail maintenance, invasive species removal, and tree planting.

BioBlitz (Fall and Spring, Half Day)

A BioBlitz is a scavenger hunt for a variety of plants, animals, and insects to help students assess the health and biodiversity of Riverwood’s ecosystem. Students gain hands-on experience with binoculars, global positioning systems, and species ID guides.

Kindergarten Programs

Insects (Early Fall and Spring, Half Day)

Students explore the world of insects while learning how to use magnifying tools and how to handle and work with insects. Fall programs focus on the monarch butterfly, with students participating in the care, tagging, and release of this endangered species.

Primary Programs

Living Things – Grade 1 (September – June, Full Day or Half Day)

Students discover animal and plant characteristics using sensory techniques, magnification tools, and exploratory walks on Riverwood’s trails. This program highlights aspects of life that are different and similar between human beings and other living things.

Growth in Animals – Grade 2 (September – June, Full Day or Half Day)

Explore how animals adapt their behaviour and their physical characteristics in order to survive. Students observe and participate in simulations of various life stages of wildlife, including toads, insects, salmon, butterflies, and worms.

Growth in Plants – Grade 3 (Fall and Spring, Full Day or Half Day)

Tour a variety of plant communities, including a mature forest, food and ornamental gardens, reclaimed meadows, and wetlands. Students learn the characteristics of different plants, the process of photosynthesis, and how to care for plants at home. The full-day program also explores the role of soil in the health of plants.

Junior Programs

Habitats – Grade 4 (September – June, Full Day)

Animals and plants call Riverwood home all year long. In this program, students explore the different habitats within Riverwood, conduct population surveys, take part in population dynamics simulations, and learn about habitat health, carrying capacity, and the roles of different species within a habitat.

Light and Sound – Grade 4 (September – June, Full Day)

Explore the roles that light and sound play in Riverwood’s ecosystem, and investigate the science behind these energies. By visiting different sites in the park and taking measurements, students will learn the properties of light and sound, and how plants and animals are impacted by human technology.

Rocks and Minerals – Grade 4 (September – June, Full Day)

Examine local fossils and learn about the ecological history of ancient Silurian seas. Students perform mineral identification through a variety of geological tests. By studying the rock cycle, students learn how to identify different rock categories, how humans use rocks and minerals, and how Riverwood’s geologic landscape was formed.

Bioregional Mapping – Grade 5 (September – June, Full Day)

Learn about mapping and its influence in helping scientists, geographers, and everyday citizens navigate our world. Students participate in mapping activities, use GPS and geocaching tools, and learn how culture, nature, and technology help shape our landscape.

Energy and Conservation – Grade 5 (September – June, Full Day)

Explore how renewable energy sources can power Riverwood’s buildings, and understand how each form operates and how it can impact the environment. Part of this program focuses on learning the positive impacts of conserving energy.

Biodiversity – Grade 6 (Fall and Spring, Full Day)

Spend the day exploring different ecosystems within Riverwood – meadow, forest, and river – and collect field data that will lead to conclusions about ecosystem health and human impacts on the environment. Fall programs take students to the Credit River to learn about the annual salmon migration.

Intermediate Programs

Ecosystems – Grade 7 (Fall and Spring, Full Day)

Witness ecology in action in the interaction between the biotic and abiotic world. Using Riverwood’s flora and fauna, students gather data on ecosystems to analyze the health and sustainability of the area.

Climate Change – Grade 7 (Winter, Full Day)

Students learn about heat in the environment by conducting temperature-related experiments, studying the effects of the cold on animal survival, and examining tree growth rings. The history of climate change will be presented, along with instruction of how to make predictions about the positive and negative effects of warming temperatures on the environment.

Water Systems – Grade 8 (Fall and Spring, Full Day)

Study fresh water environments including the Credit River, Chappell Creek, and Riverwood’s wetlands. Students conduct insect sampling and collect data using thermometers, pH readers, and dissolved solids meters to make predictions about aquatic health.