Shangri La’s naturalist-guided programs are curriculum-based and fully aligned to the science objectives for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. These programs are designed by a certified teacher and experienced outdoor educator using the outdoors as a classroom. Each program includes hands-on activities, investigations, or experiments, frequently with kinesthetic games. Total immersion is our goal. If the program is about trees, students will be in the forest. If the program includes a water theme, students might get a little wet as they study our swamp, bayou, or our man-made lake. As we aim to connect students to nature and to empower them to make a difference, each program includes elements of natural history, ecology, and sustainability.
Our education staff is comprised of 10 dedicated and fully qualified educators. Most of our educators are certified teachers who have retired after serving many years in the classroom. They receive more than 90 hours of training and professional development each year to hone their skills as outdoor science educators.
These programs are conducted for school groups and homeschool groups during the academic school year. Orange County teachers may register starting at 7a.m., August 15, 2016. Teachers outside of Orange County may register beginning at 7a.m., August 29, 2016. See below for program descriptions and a link to our online registration form.
For the 2016-2017 field trip calendar, a full listing of programs for the school year and additional registration information, please click to see our Schedule of Classes.
Naturalist Guided Program Descriptions:
Shangri La has an active beehive in our Garden! Please take this into consideration if any of your students have bee allergies. Make sure that these students carry their Epi-pens with them at all times.
Mini Mysteries (Spring) Grade Levels: Pre-K & K
During this 1½ hour adventure, students will explore the life cycle and food webs of ladybugs, butterflies, bees, and worms. Students will get their hands dirty! This class does not include a bayou excursion.
Winter Ecology (Winter) Grade Levels: K-5
This 2 hour lesson will get students outside to observe changes that happen during winter. Various games and investigations will help students understand where the animals go and how they survive the cold weather. This lesson includes a 1-2 mile slow, easy hike but does not include a bayou excursion. Please make sure students are dressed for the cold!
Here We Grow! (Fall) Grade Levels: Pre-K & K
During this 1½ hour hands-on experience, students will use all five senses to explore our Children’s Garden. Students will plant a seed to take home, transplant a seedling, water the garden, and taste some of the yummy plants growing in the garden. This program does not include a bayou excursion.
Audubon Adventures (Spring) Grade Levels: 1-4
This is a combo field trip with the Stark Museum of Art
Experience the best of the Stark Museum of Art and Shangri La! For 4½ hours, students will embark on an adventure to explore the natural habitats of Shangri La, and how John James Audubon changed the way we see nature. At the Gardens, students will experience meadow, forest and bayou habitats while we search for animals that live in these places. At the Museum, students will discover how Audubon and other artists rendered animals and habitats naturalistically and then visit the art studio to create their own animal-inspired art. Students should bring a sack lunch; there will be a ½ hour lunch break at Shangri La. Bus drivers will shuttle students between Shangri La and the Stark Museum of Art during this lesson.
Animal Safari (Spring) Grade Levels: 1-3
As students explore different areas of our gardens and bayou, we will observe animal behaviors, characteristics, basic needs, and habitats. Using investigations and games, we will sort animals into basic groups (mammals, fish, birds, etc.), and explore how animals compete with each other for resources. This 3 hour lesson includes a bayou excursion.
Gills, Fins & Scales (Spring) Grade Levels: 4-6
Students will learn about our fishy friends during this 4½ hour lesson. Through games and observations, we will learn how to identify some local fish, while studying their adaptations, and some key behaviors. We will explore their freshwater habitat and learn how fish fit into natural food webs. Finally, students will get their hands wet as they learn how to properly hold a live fish and practice ethical catch and release protocols with a cane pole. This lesson includes a bayou excursion. Students should bring a sack lunch – we will stop for a ½ hour lunch break during this lesson.
Soil: Get the Scoop (Fall) Grade Levels: 3-5
This fast-paced, 4½ hour lesson will include hands-on examinations of soil color, soil texture, permeability, weathering, and erosion. We’ll make ribbons and rainbows, test different soils for permeability, and then we’ll do the erosion shuffle. Students should bring a sack lunch – we will stop for a ½ hour lunch break during this lesson. If the weather cooperates, this lesson includes a bayou excursion.
Watershed Basics (Fall) Grade Levels: 4-6
In this 4½ hour lesson, we will explore and use hands-on experiments to teach students about our local watershed. Students will use simple tests to determine temperature, pH, salinity, and turbidity. We will also identify macroin-vertebrates to verify water quality, and explore the importance of groundwater and aquifers. This lesson includes a bayou excursion. Students should bring a sack lunch – we will stop for a ½ hour lunch break during this lesson.
Grasshopper Dissection (Winter) Grade Levels: 4-8
In this 2 hour lesson, students will practice safe lab procedures as we introduce them to the wonders of dissection. Students will focus on the unique external anatomy of grasshoppers and will glimpse the internal anatomy of an herbivore. Students will remove the legs, wings, antennae, and all mouth parts. They will tape these to a card that they get to keep. This is an indoor lesson and does not include a bayou excursion.
Botany Basics (Spring) Grade Levels: 6-8
In this 4½ hour lesson, students will explore the link between plant structures and their functions as they dissect various plants. We will examine different types of roots, flowers, and seeds as we search for different plant adaptations. An introduction to dichotomous keys will prepare students for high school biology. If the weather cooperates, this lesson includes a bayou excursion.
Collecting Conversations: The Science & Art of Collecting (Fall) Grade Levels: 5-8
This is a combo field trip with the Stark Museum of Art
Who has a rock collection? Stamp collection? People collect things. During this 4½ hour experience, students will delve into the science and art of collecting. At Shangri La, students will explore botany from an interesting perspective as we investigate the challenges and rewards of “collecting” living plants. At the Museum, students will consider why people assemble collections, and we will conduct experiments to explore how museums use science to care for artifacts. Bring a sack lunch; there will be a 1/2 hour lunch break at Shangri La. Bus drivers will shuttle students between Shangri La and the Museum during this lesson. This program does not include a bayou excursion.
Business and Biology on the Bayou (Fall/Spring) Grade Levels: 9-12 (Biology/World Geo TEKS)
This is a combo field trip with The W.H. Stark House
During this interdisciplinary excursion, students will follow Adams Bayou and the Sabine River from the past and into the present. At The W. H. Stark House, we will explore the role that these waterways played in the early business boom in Orange, Texas and how the prominent community leaders changed these waterways through dredging to support their businesses. At Shangri La, students will assess the current water quality of Adams Bayou and discover how human actions continue to impact this important waterway. Students should bring a sack lunch – we will stop for a ½ hour lunch break during this 4½ hour lesson. To schedule this program for your class, please contact Jamie Massa at email@example.com.
Orange County Teachers Registration:
Optional post-trip classroom visit: An educator from The W. H. Stark House or Shangri La will facilitate a town meeting style discussion as students explore the pros and cons of dredging our waterways