Home School

Looking for an educational outing for your home school group? Spring Valley is the perfect place for hands-on exploration and science-based programs.

For more information about programs and pricing, or to schedule a program, call 847-985-2100.


  • Conservation in Action - Help with conservation efforts! Projects will include collecting seeds, planting wildflowers and trees, clearing brush or wood chipping.
  • Cycling - Fall is a time of great activity in the natural world as plants and animals prepare for winter. Search for seasonal changes under logs, in holes and just about everywhere.
  • Gardening - Plant, transplant, weed and even eat vegetables and flowers from the Spring Valley kid's garden and greenhouse. Activities follow the seasonal growing calendar.
  • Nighttime Nature - Experience nature without the benefit of sight and use the rest of your senses on a walk at night.
  • Owls: Predators of the Night - Students will examine owl pellets, identify bones and skulls, graph data, and analyze their results. They will hear owl calls and see actual owl specimens. They will learn how the owl is so extremely well adapted to its nocturnal niche and discover its role in the food chain. Students will even become an owl in a simulation predator/prey game.
  • Springtime Growth - Explore various habitats and look for signs of spring and animal life. Younger students plant a seed to take home and older students explore plants and pollination.
  • Prairie - Experience the textures, sounds, sights and smells of Spring Valley's restored Illinois prairie. Participate in role-playing activities and learn how plants and animals survive in Illinois' climate.
  • Wetlands - Look for animals and experience an aquatic food web. Activities center around the diversity of animal and plant life within a wetland and how wetlands are formed and changed.
  • Winter Ecology - Student will focus on adaptations of plants and animals and look for evidence that nature is still active in the winter.
  • Woodlands - Explore one of the wooded areas at Spring Valley! Activities can be chosen from the following: a leaf collection, tree identification, forest ecology or trees as microhabitats.

Historical Programs

  • Caddie Woodlawn - This program is based on the book Caddie Woodlawn and is offered to those that have read it. The program begins at the Heritage Farm with a discussion of what life was like during the time of the Woodlawns. At the log cabin, students will card wool, weave yarn, make butter, parch corn and tap trees as was done in the book.
  • Early Settler Life - Try your hand at some of early settler skills. Activities include weaving and candle dipping for older students and making cornbread, applesauce and butter for younger students.
  • Farms and Food - Let the sounds and smells of the working farm enhance the student’s understanding of farm chores, where food comes from and animal care. Through this program, students experience and actively learn about the relationships between agriculture and food, both historically and present day.
  • Maple Syrup - When nighttime temperatures are below freezing and daytime temperatures are above, the sap begins to flow and maples are ready to be tapped! Celebrate spring with a tapping demonstration, boildown and a taste test.

Programs by Season

  • Year Round: Conservation in Action, Hands on History, Nighttime Nature, Owls: Predators of the Night, Woodlands
  • Winter: Caddie Woodlawn, Early Settler Life, Winter Ecology
  • Fall: Cycling, Gardening, Prairie, Wetlands
  • Spring: Gardening, Maple Syrup, Wetlands, Springtime Growth

Program Guide

For program descriptions and more information, download the Spring Valley Home School Program Guide (PDF).