Field Trips

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From Pre-K to High School, the Nature Museum is the perfect field trip destination.

Time of Year
All Year
At The Museum
Pre-K to 12th

As Chicago’s gateway to nature and science, our educators, scientists, and staff provide a fun and educational experience like no other.

Please note, groups of 10 or more people are required to register in advance when visiting the Nature Museum. Groups receive discounted admission to the museum and the opportunity to add on visit enhancements and utilize planning tools when registering at least two weeks in advance. Find the best fit for your class or group by exploring the options below.

8 Reasons to Take a Field Trip

As Chicago’s oldest museum, we know a thing or two about science education! Our staff are experts at developing education programs and exhibitions that stimulate and excite young minds. Book a field trip and you’ll see!

We are Chicago’s urban gateway to nature and science. Our exhibits, specimens, live animals, and conservation initiatives all focus on our region’s unique ecosystems. Inspire your students to seek out, observe and discover the nature all around us.

Take your field trip to the next level by scheduling a hands-on workshop led by an experienced Museum Educator. With 14 different indoor and outdoor workshops developed for a diverse range of learners, you can choose the unique workshop perfect for your class.

With more than 40 living animal species, the Nature Museum is one of the only museums where your class can get up close and hands-on with turtles, snakes, insects, and more! In addition to our living collections, we have thousands of preserved specimens—from rare extinct species to common plants and animals.

From interpretive nature trails outside the Museum and around North Pond, to more than 30,000 square feet of exhibitions within the Museum, your students will truly be immersed in the nature all around us! In addition to our signature exhibitions, we feature rotating exhibits throughout the year that always keep our museum experience fresh.

Our scientists are hard at work saving turtles, butterflies, snakes, and bees! Learn about our research and conservation efforts with endangered species like the Blanding’s turtle, and see the little hatchlings we are rearing for release in local habitats.

Experience the whirling wonder of the renowned Judy Istock Butterfly Haven! More than 40 species of exotic high-flying butterflies and stunning birds from around the world await your class in our 2,700 square foot greenhouse. Complete with serene pools of water, flowers, tropical trees, and thousands of fluttering butterflies, the Butterfly Haven is an experience your students will not forget!

All Illinois school groups receive free admission to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum—no catch! Your group will have the opportunity and time to see everything we have to offer, without any special exhibit fees. Plus, we’ll outfit your class with a self-guided tour card that includes guiding questions for each exhibit.


Add a Field Trip Workshop to focus your visit, spark wonder and curiosity in your students, and connect to your students’ classroom science learning.

A Field Trip Workshop is an authentic, hands-on learning experience that leverages unique museum resources to teach locally-relevant science and nature content. Help your students create positive personal connections with local nature by observing and exploring the Nature Museum’s collections. Choose from 14 workshops created for Pre-K through High School groups that are taught by an experienced museum educator and are correlated with the Next Generation Science Standards.

Register for one of these inquiry-based and interactive programs to enhance a field trip experience and enrich learning outside of school. Titles and descriptions of available workshops are listed below. Workshops are 45 minutes and cost $175/workshop unless otherwise noted.

Pre-K & K


Awaken your senses and embark on an outdoor adventure! Join a Nature Museum Educator on an exploration of the Museum grounds. Students will discover the sights, sounds, feels, and smells of nature in the city!



Observe live insects from the Nature Museum’s collections! Students will learn more about the ways that these animals move, eat, and protect themselves from danger. Each student will have the opportunity to compare and contrast several different live insects.



Create a seed pocket to take back to your school! Students develop an appreciation for local nature as they learn about planting seeds through interactive activities that highlight how native plants grow and how they are important to animals, including humans.


Grades 1, 2 & 3


Go outside and explore prairie, pond, and wooded habitats on the Nature Museum grounds! Students will practice making careful observations as they examine plants and animals in various outdoors areas. Students will compare and contrast the different elements of each habitat including the plants and animals that live in each.



Meet two live animals from the Nature Museum’s collections! Students will observe the animals’ features and movements and use critical thinking skills to compare and contrast the animals’ bodies, behaviors, and habitats.



Watch a classmate transform into a butterfly! Students will become butterfly scientists and learn about the body parts and life cycle of butterflies. They will also create their own butterfly life cycle models to take home and use to teach others what they know.



Find out how seeds travel from one place to another! Students will observe real seeds and do hands-on investigations to compare and contrast the ways that these seeds move.


Grades 4-5


Go outside and observe prairie, wetland, and urban woodland ecosystems! Students will increase their knowledge of Illinois ecosystems by observing living and non-living things on the Nature Museum grounds and by evaluating how the parts of each system interact and work together.



Get an up close look at the red worms that work at the Nature Museum! Students will observe red worm behavior and investigate environmental preferences. Students learn how these worms can recycle food and paper waste and then practice classifying items that can and cannot be fed to red worms.



Observe and compare rare and endangered Midwest butterflies, including metalmarks, checker-spots, and fritillaries! Students will learn about the characteristics of native butterfly habitats and the Nature Museum’s conservation research initiatives. By reviewing basic butterfly biology and exploring the unique needs of local butterflies, students gain an understanding of how people impact Midwestern butterfly populations.


Grades 6-12*

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Compare the biodiversity of different outdoor areas on the Nature Museum grounds! Students use sampling, systematic observation, and data collection techniques to gather information about the plants present in each location. By graphing, analyzing, and comparing data, students will determine species richness and biodiversity in the two areas.


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Get outdoors and investigate various urban ecosystems on the Nature Museum’s Nature Trails! Students will observe and record the diversity of living things in two of Illinois’ most dominant natural environments. By considering the changes in these natural areas over time, students will evaluate the roles humans play as a part of these prairie and lawn ecosystems.


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Examine various bee specimens from the Nature Museum’s collection! Students will analyze data to determine trends in bee populations and the impact on local ecosystems, as well as obtain information on current conservation efforts.


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Find out what the invertebrates found in water really say about the water’s quality! Students learn about water quality indicators, tolerant and intolerant species, and citizen science initiatives while identifying preserved macroinvertebrates. Students then use their findings to analyze the health of a water sample.


Cost & Payment

Each school classroom must register for its own workshop. To ensure the quality of the interactive experience, schools may not combine multiple classrooms into one workshop. Groups with workshops exceeding the maximum number of participants without prior approval will be charged for an additional workshop. Kindergarten – Grade 12 workshops have a maximum of 30 participants, and Pre-K workshops have a maximum of 20 participants.

  • $175/45-minute workshop
  • $200/90-minute workshop

Payment is due 30 days before the date of the visit or programs will be cancelled.

Questions? Special requests? Email

Exclusive Butterfly Release

Make your field trip visit unforgettable by releasing a butterfly with an exclusive butterfly release. For $15 per group, your students will be able to watch as a butterfly that has just emerged from its chrysalis is released into the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven for its first flight!

Request a Field Trip

After you’ve submitted a request form, we will process your request within five business days. Once we’ve booked your field trip, we will send you a confirmation via email. Your field trip is not confirmed until you’ve received this email. After five days, if you have not received an email please email to check on the status of your request.

Questions? Email us at

Planning Resources

Keep reading for tools, tips, and protocols to help you plan and prepare for your Nature Museum field trip.

Use our Field Trip Guide to help prepare your students and create a focused field trip experience. This guide is full of tips and tricks to make the most out of your visit to the Nature Museum. It also includes ideas for activities before your visit, graphic organizers to use on your trip, and suggestions for post-visit activities to connect the field trip back to the learning in the classroom.

When your bus arrives, it will pull into the turn-around directly in front of the museum. One of our staff members will greet your bus and provide the museum rules to your group, while the lead teacher from each school enters the museum to check in and receive your group’s tour cards.

In order to ensure that our visitors have the opportunity to explore the museum fully, school groups will be divided by class into lettered groups (A, B, C, etc.). We will provide one tour card to the leader of each lettered group. These custom tour cards provide an outline for your trip and also include specific times and locations for lunches and workshops. Click here for a sample tour card.

Your classes will then be led off the bus and organized into letter groups by class, each with their own tour card. Once organized, your group will be moved inside to drop off lunches and coats. If you have requested a lunch space, each lettered group’s lunch time and location will appear on their tour card. We ask that you bring lunches in small, recyclable brown paper bags. We will bring them to the lunchroom at your assigned lunch time. Please do not call ahead for lunch times.

Once those have been dropped off, a staff member will escort you to your first exhibit or workshop, and your museum exploration will begin!

To see our full list of accessibility resources and amenities, click here.

Buy Your Tickets Today

Experience nature and science up close with a trip to the Nature Museum.

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