Field Trip Program – “You Come to Us”

The Theodore Payne Foundation offers field trips for K-12. (We also hold “Mommy & Me” sessions for pre-school groups; please see below.)

Field trips are inquiry-based and California Department of Education standards-based, and feature hands-on activities that teach students about California native plants and the natural world. Throughout all programs, the vital ecological link between native plants, insects and other animals is emphasized. Students will understand the water-saving benefits of native plants and the crucial ecological function that plants fulfill.

Our K-12 programs last one to three hours, depending on the subject, and are held in the Education Center and on TPF grounds.

Fee: $3.00 per student, Title I schools; $5.00 per student, all others. All worksheets, factsheets and materials included.

Contact:  Diana Sherwood, K-12 Community Education, at k12 at or 818-768-1802.

For middle- and high-school students:
The Foundation offers a two-hour program that includes an illustrated lecture and tour of our gardens and growing facilities. The lecture explains the big picture of propagation_high schoolCalifornia native plants — geography, soils, native plant adaptations and water use, and why native plants are essential to the food web. During the tour, students gain a hands-on familiarity with native plants and are shown how TPF propagates plants from seed and cuttings. A real eye-opener for exposing students to varied career choices! Classes are welcome to stay for lunch in our sycamore-shaded picnic area, and finish with a one-mile hike through the coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitat of Wild Flower Hill.

Plant propagation classes for high school students are available for groups of eight students or less. Participants learn how to propagate native plants from cuttings. Special rates apply.

For elementary school students:
LeavesClass“All About Leaves” centers on leaf adaptations of California native plants. Students observe plants, animals and insects as the food web is discussed, then examine leaves from different habitats and, through writing and drawing, analyze leaf characteristics to determine their adaptive purposes. Science demonstrations show how leaf color affects heat absorption and how plant oils combat water loss. Students make predictions and test their hypotheses. Program culminates with a hike on Wild Flower Hill. This program satisfies these science standards: 3rd grade, 3.3.a, 3.3.d, 3.5.c, 3.5.d and 3.5.e; 4th grade, 4.2.a, 4.3.c and 4.6.b


butterflies_class“Butterflies, Caterpillars and Native Plants” centers on the life cycles of Southern California butterflies and the native plant forage needs of their caterpillars. Using native plant samples, worksheets and color photographs of butterflies and their larvae, students learn through art, writing and movement. Habitat and food web connections are also explored. Program culminates with a walk through our Discovery Garden that is sure to educate and delight! This program satisfies these science standards:  2nd grade, 2.2.a, 2.2.b and 2.2.c; 3rd grade, 3.3.a, 3.3.c and 3.3.d; 4th grade, 4.2.a, 4.2.b and 4.3.c; and, for 2nd grade, visual arts standards 2.1.3 and 2.2.5.

Soils_class“Every Soil Tells a Story” Like to dig in the dirt? This program’s for you! Through hands-on activities, students learn about soil composition and evolution, the origin of soil elements, soil pH and water retention, and root structures, adaptations and functions. This program satisfies these Earth Sciences standards:
3rd grade, 3.3.c, 3.9.a; 4th grade, 4.4.a.b, 4.5.a.b.c; 6th grade, 6.2.a.b.c.d, 6.5.b.c.e.



tongva_rope_making“Tongva Rope and Other Tools from Native Plants” centers on one of the most crucial skills of native California culture. Students will be engaged by hands-on activities and learn how the indigenous people of our region adapted to the natural environment and used its resources. Other goods and tools are also shown to demonstrate how native plant materials formed the basis for native cultures.  This program satisfies these social science standards: 3rd grade, 3.1.2 and 3.2.2; and 4th grade, 4.1.3, 4.2.1 and 4.2.5.



Reviews from teachers:
“All About Leaves” – “This program totally engaged my students!  Lots of rich language for English Language Learners!”  Karin Croft, Vinedale Elementary School, LAUSD

“The science experiments were excellent and explained at students’ level.” Sarah Molfese, Larchmont Charter School, LAUSD.

“Tongva Rope-Making” – “Great hands-on activity!”  Heather Chaten, Frostig Center

For pre-school groups:
On a docent-led walk through TPF grounds, children explore leaf and flower textures, scents and shapes, and learn about birds, butterflies and other creatures that native plants support…a great way to encourage an appreciation for nature (and essential for piquing students’ later interest in biology!)  Fee:  $10.00 per parent and child, and $5.00 for each additional child