Connecting children to their natural world through outdoor educational hands-on experiences

Hands on Nature • 67 Carter Street, Berlin MA 01503 • (508) 981-1335 • • A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

We are now booking for the Fall and all of 2023!  All of our library programs are now available as either online or in person presentations!   Email us for more details at

Library Programs

As part of our educational outreach program to preschoolers and elementary school aged children in Massachusetts, we provide nature programs to libraries throughout the state. Our programs run for 45-60 minutes, for ages 3 and older, on topics related to our natural world. Programs include stories, poems, crafts and activities. Programs are indoors, but can also include an outdoor component if your library has a lawn or other green area nearby. Library Program fees are $180, with a $25 travel fee for libraries over 30 miles from Berlin ($50 fee for over 60 miles).  We have many current programs, some of which include:  

When was the last time you felt the cool skin of a frog?  Discover more about our local frog, toad and salamander species in this hands-on program.  We will learn about the amphibians that live in MA, some of their characteristics and habits, and where they can be found. 

Come learn about animals which are able to vanish in plain sight! Discover ways in which animals are able to blend like magic into their environment.  Learn about how both predators and prey disguise themselves to increase their chances of survival.   Then become a nature detective and see if you can spot the hidden animal, in various nature scenes... its not as easy as you think!  Includes a fun camouflage project to take home.

Come discover the variety of local bird beaks, and how each beak is cleverly designed for a certain type of food!  Each bird has a unique niche in its environment, resulting in greater harmony as there is less competition for the same foods.  Pretend to be a bird and pick up food with different utensils similar to the many varieties of birds beaks, and see which one is the most challenging!​

Come learn more about the local birds in your yard and how to start identifying them.  Learn which birds are common in Massachusetts and which ones are fun to study!  We will learn fun easy ways to get started in the world of birding!  Begin the easy journey to learn more about these beautiful creatures that are an essential part of our natural world.  We will learn a few common bird songs and will be able to identify some by the end of the program.  Create and then take home 2 simple feeders to attract local birds.


​​Discover big predators, such as bears, coyotes, wolves and mountain lions!   Learn which large wild predators are left in MA and which have been extirpated.  Understand food chains and what is meant by ‘survival of the fittest’. We will learn about the decline of big predators over the past century, and about the possibility of their return.  Includes a fun predator/prey activity!   

Let’s discover the differences between butterflies and moths, and the characteristics which make each one unique.  We will learn about their life cycles and habitats, and about the incredible migration of the Monarchs to Mexico each year.  We will also learn about the importance of these special insects to our eco-system, and will have a butterfly activity/craft.  We will have some live butterflies that the children can see up close and even hold in our 'butterfly tent'.

Discover some of our fascinating local bugs - such as beetles, worms, slugs, ladybugs and caterpillars!  Through learning about them, we will gain a better understanding and appreciation of their importance to our lives, and their role in our ecosystem.  Observe live bugs with magnifiers! OPTIONAL ACTIVITY:  Join us for A BUG HUNT outside to discover where insects can be found!  

Learn about earthworms and the important role they play in our environment. Discover an earthworm’s anatomy and learn how it has adapted to its life underground. We will learn about how they break down living and dead material, and turn it into nutrient rich soil Develop a new appreciation for these simple invertebrates, while learning about decomposing and soil recycling.   Observe live earthworms with magnifiers!   OPTIONAL ACTIVITY:  Make a worm farm to bring home, its the ultimate household recycling machine!

Join us as we make outdoor simple natural feeders for our local wildlife, using a variety of different materials and fresh foods.  These will provide food for them during the short dark days of winter, when they have less time and sunlight to search for food.   These are simple feeders such as fruit wreaths, and sunflower seed stars, that can be repeated easily at home after the program.  

Learn about these special nocturnal insects, and the ways they have been used as sources of light in many cultures. Discover the habits and lifestyles of these luminous insects, and learn what makes their ‘cool light’ different from other ‘warm light’.  Bring a recycled glass jar, and make a firefly catcher to bring home and enjoy this summer!

Come discover our local insects through hands-on learning stations.  Discover the world of bugs through activities, such as close up observations of North American species,   views through multi-lensed bug glasses, learning activities, an insect-based craft project, recorded insect sounds, and more!  Fun for children of all ages.


Come discover more about our constellations and the interesting stories they tell.  We will begin with an overview of the night sky, and then focus on the stories of our constellations.  Enhance the quality of stargazing - there is a whole world to explore after dark!   Includes a fun night sky activity for children of all ages.

Discover some of our fascinating local bugs - such as beetles, worms, slugs, ladybugs and caterpillars!  Gain a greater appreciation for their importance in our lives and their role in our ecosystem.  Observe live bugs with magnifiers, and see the world through the eyes of an insect with our "bug glasses"!   Learn more about the world of insects, as we explore together on a fun LIVE BUG HUNT on the grounds of the library!

NATURE STORIES & CRAFTS (recommended for preschoolers)
Come listen to engaging nature stories and poems, and then make a nature craft to bring home.  Can be run as an ongoing monthly program, with a rotating story and craft.

NATURE’S REAL VAMPIRES:  Leeches, Bats and Other Spooky Creatures!   

Just in time for Halloween, come learn about real animals that scare and spook us!  We will learn about creatures that don’t just come out on Halloween, but are here all year round.  Come learn more and make a fun Halloween craft to bring home!

Includes owl pellet dissection!   Learn about the fascinating world of owls and their prey!  Come discover the habits of owls, their adaptations, and their roles in nature.  Practice owl calls, and dissect a real owl pellet, and discover the prey of our local owls!  Discover more about our local owls, and gain knowledge of simple food chains.  Please note: there are no live owls at this program.

SUMMER NIGHT SOUNDS                        
What makes those amazing songs we hear outside our window during the warm summer nights?  Is that a cricket or a katydid or a treefrog?  Come join us as we learn to decipher which fascinating creatures make each sound.  You might be surprised at what you learn, and your nighttime listening experience will be greatly enhanced!

Learn about the local mammal species which spend most of their lives underground.  Discover some of the special characteristics of underground mammals, and the adaptations these animals have made to a life underground.  We will also explore what animals look for when making a home, and will learn about some interesting details of their den construction.  Includes an underground mammal activity to take home.  

This program can be enjoyed year-round, but is especially enjoyable in Winter when we see tracks all around us in the snow.  Come discover the tracks of our local mammals and learn to identify which mammals leave which types of tracks.   In addition to learning our local mammal tracks, we will also discover their other 'signs', such as fur traces, scat and scratch marks.   Following an animal's tracks can teach us a lot about who lives in our woods and their behavior.  Make some track rubbings and a track cast to take home!


How do your favorite animals spend the winter?  Come find out, as we learn about how animals look for shelter during the coldest months of the year.  We will learn about hibernation, how animals spend the winter, and the amazing adaptations animals have for surviving through the harshest temperatures in New England.    Bring a stuffed animal and create a cozy little hibernation den to take home!

School Programs

Bring educational hands-on nature programs to your school this year!  

Programs can be taught indoors or outdoors, depending on your classroom’s interest.  Explore the woods or fields on the school property. Even a small schoolyard has natural life we can learn from. OUR unique angle on school programs is learning is spent both indoors and outdoors. Children get hands on experiences. 

Program length:  approximately one hour, depending on topic and content.  Visiting School Program Fees are: $200-225, depending on the program. Our 2 most popular programs for elementary schools are Earthworm Programs which focus on decomposing, and Owl Pellet Programs which focus on food chains and ecosystems. 

Little Chickadee - Preschool & Kindergarten Programs

Our Little Chickadee Programs teach students about out natural world, and the local wildlife and plants of New England. Programs take place at your school, and include a nature story, lesson and hands-on craft or activity. We also can lead outdoor educational lessons at your


We offer one time programs, as well as ongoing monthly programs that can be aligned with your curriculum. Our featured 2022 topics are:

September – Fascinating Fireflies
October – Creepy Crawly Critters
November – Beneath Our Feet: Lives of Underground Mammals
December – The Winter World: Preparing for Hibernation

Little Chickadee Programs run for 30-45 minutes

Scout Programs

Let Hands on Nature help your scout troop complete badges related to our natural world! We offer classes for all scout groups: Brownies, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts,
and Boy Scouts. These classes can be tailored to individual badges for the troop or den.   Badge programs, custom programs and “try-it” programs are all available. Programs are 1 ½ - 2 hours and are offered weekday afternoons. Program fees are $10/scout with a minimum of $100.    

One Time Classes

We offer special one time classes to groups of all ages, on topics related to our natural world. Programs can be done indoors, at your site or house, or on one of our sites in Berlin. We have a list of available topics or you can choose one that interests your group. Each class runs approximately for one hour and program fees vary depending on the class details. Contact us for more detailed information. 

Special Events

We also specialize in community events such as Owl Hikes and Woodland Walks. The 'Upcoming Program' section on our home page, lists information on our special events.

"May the great mystery of the Earth, make

sunrise in your heart"   

- old Sioux saying

Other Programs

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