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The TLNC field experience with pre/post activities can be used as an introduction or follow-up to important concepts educators teach during the school year. TLNC uses nature to teach concepts about adaptations, ecosystems, interdependence and more. 

The Lake County School District pays TLNC program fees for their students to participate in an interactive learning experience at TLNC. Lake County School teachers should contact the county office to make their reservations for a field experience at TLNC. Additional funds may be available to cover costs for private or charter schools, schools outside Lake County or home school groups.

These groups should make reservations through TLNC at or call 352-357-7536.

In addition, TLNC received funds to cover busing costs for schools participating in their field experience.

To Prepare for your TLNC field experience:

We strongly suggest that you conduct the pre- and post-visit activities provided. These activities are provided in your welcome packet or through your school’s curriculum resource teacher (CRT). These activities will help prepare students for their field experience and help to maximize learning. Post-visit activities are provided on the day of your field experience with program evaluations. Pre- and post-visit activities vary based on the learning program chosen by the teacher.

We are looking forward to seeing you in our natural classroom. Here are a few tips to make your experience fun, educational and comfortable.

Pre- and Post-Visit Activities (available through your CRT and attached to welcome packet): Please conduct these activities with your students. It is essential that these activities be completed to prepare your students for their field experience and to maximize their learning.

Field Experience Requirements:

Student /Teacher Ratio: Separate the total students participating in the field experience into four groups (roughly equal in size). One adult (either teacher or approved chaperone) must accompany each group.

You must observe the 1 to 10 ratio enforced by the Lake County School District. Group size is limited to no more than 60 students or three classes.

Personal Comfort: Most activities will take place outside. Students and adults should dress for the Florida weather. Ponchos are available from TLNC in case of wet weather.

Students are required to wear:

  • Closed-toed shoes


  • Mosquito repellent (TLNC staff/docents cannot apply repellent, it must be applied by the parent.)
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat

Pack It In, Pack It Out Policy: Bring large trash bags to pack any trash created by your visit. Have students police the lunch area to be sure no trash is left behind. You can deposit the trash bag in TLNC’s dumpster on your way out of the property.

It is the start of a new school year and TLNC is preparing for student field experiences and programs. Learn about our PreK through fifth grade programs. We have updated our fourth and fifth grade programs to better align with state education standards. Check out the calendar provided to find dates that will work with your classes. If you need additional dates, call 352-357-7536 and arrangements can be made.

Once again, the Lake County Water Authority is providing funds for busing costs and for ten (10) in-school presentations. Funds and presentations are on a first come, first serve basis.

A busing application must be completed and submitted to receive busing funds. In-school presentations can be scheduled by emailing

Collecting Specimens: TLNC is a sanctuary for birds, animals and plants that are found in Florida. No collection of plants, flowers, rocks, or insects are allowed. Caution your students not to pick any items unless directed by TLNC instructor as part of an activity.

Any questions or concerns can be directed to TLNC at 352-357-7536 or


TLNC field experience descriptions

TLNC 2017-18 Field Experience Dates

In School presentations v2017

Busing application 2017

Grade-Level Focus Areas
Created with the assistance of Lake County school teachers, the TLNC Field Experience activities are designed to meet the needs of teachers and students. Designed to be a learning progression, students participate in different activities as they advance to higher grade levels.The teacher may chose the grade-level program or one of the specific programs that are available. 
The grade-level focus areas for the activities on the day of the field experience are as follows:
PreK Focus—Real and Living: Students will develop an understanding of what makes animals “real live animals” and how animals find the things they need in the forest. They will learn how animals use their senses to help them find food and to survive.
Kindergarten Focus—Organization and Development of Living Things: Students will observe plants and animals and describe how they are alike and how they are different in the way they look and in the things they do. Students will also recognize that some books and other media portray animals and plants with characteristics and behaviors they do not have in real life.
First Grade Focus—Plants: Students have a basic understanding of the life cycle of plants/trees. What role does the sun and water play in the life of a plant? A tree is a living thing making its own food (using the sun’s energy) and providing food, shelter and other materials to animals and people.
Second Grade Focus—Interdependence: Students will develop a basic understanding that all living things have basic needs that must be met for survival. Living things are found all over, under, and above Earth, but each is only able to live in habitats that meet its basic needs.
Third Grade Focus—Ecosystems and Habitats: Students visit the four main ecosystems within Trout Lake Nature Center. They will observe and record the differences in light, water, soil and temperature that create conditions in which different animals are comfortable. Students will adopt an animal for the day and try to find out which habitat best suits its need for food, water, shelter and a place to live.
Fourth Grade Focus—Plants and Food Chain: Plants are the producers in the food chain. Plants alone capture and store the energy of the sun. That energy is passed from the producers (plants) to the consumers (animals/people). Plants provide food, shelter and oxygen. Without plants, people and animals would cease to exist.
Fifth Grade Focus—Animal Adaptations: Students will understand the role of animal adaptations (structural and behavioral), that enable them to survive and meet their needs within their habitats.
Special Program Focus Areas
“What Lies Beneath” Our Floridan Aquifer
Students investigate the Floridan aquifer using a groundwater model. This model helps students understand how groundwater moves, springs flow and pollution travels underground. They learn about the soils of Lake County and perform percolation tests. In addition, they test the waters of Trout Lake to determine what can live there. Students will construct a micro-habitat after learning the components needed for it to function.
Wondrous Watersheds: Earth Systems—the Water Connection
Using a watershed model, students learn about watershed functions, point and non-point pollution and best management practices or BMPs to protect our surface water. Students assemble a watershed floor puzzle and assume the role of home and business owners in our watersheds. Live frogs and toads, and a game of survival help students understand why amphibians are good indicators of water quality. In addition, they test the waters of Trout Lake using test strips and macro invertebrates to determine what can live there.
Water World 
Using dip nets, students collect and record the macro invertebrates found in Trout Lake. By travelling back in history, students complete an activity that teaches about the value of water and difficulties encountered by early settlers in obtaining water. Students estimate the water found on earth, what percentage can be found in many common foods, and how much water is found in our bodies along with how it keeps us healthy.
Bugged Out: Spiders and Insects (Note: Spiders are more easily found from September through November)
Through discovering spider senses, students learn how these senses are used to detect food or a friend through a spider web game. They take a bug safari on the trails of the TLNC and learn what types of ecosystem each spider inhabits. Spiders come in all shapes and sizes, students learn about the many spider adaptations that help them survive. Each student also learns how spiders produce silk and spin a web of their own.
The Bear Facts: Florida Black Bear (Available September through February)

Bears are common in Central Florida and students should learn about this magnificent native carnivore and predator. Through an educational game, students learn what a bear eats and needs to survive in Florida. Students travel the TLNC trails finding items that a bear would use to survive. Students conduct a discussion on what all living things need to survive and a bear’s specific needs. Through examining bear artifacts such as skull, claws, scat and more, students learn about bear adaptations or characteristics that make them such good survivors in Florida habitats.

Pre-Visit Activity PreK
Alive in the Forest

Read the following story to the students. As you read the story, point to a student and let them move like the animal. It was evening in the forest. The animals began to wake up and move around. The bunny began to hop. The alligator began to swim.The bear began to amble. The owl began to swoop. The bat began to fly. The animals enjoyed moving through the forest, the air smelled like pine trees, the breeze was cool. But the animals were not just out for a pleasant walk in the forest. The animals had work to do. The bunny hopped to eat some grass. The alligator swam to find fish to eat. The bear ambled to a meadow to eat berries. The owl swooped down to catch a mouse for dinner. The bat flew around to catch some mosquitoes. The animals enjoyed moving through the forest, the air smelled like pine trees, the breeze was cool, and the sun was just starting to peep over the horizon. The bunny hopped back to his nest in the forest. The alligator swam over to hide in the tall lake grasses. The bear ambled to his den. The owl swooped back to rest on the tree branch. The bat flew back to a large palm leaf. It was morning in the forest. There were no animals around. No animals moved through the forest, or smelled the air, or felt the breeze, or knew the sun was shining bright as day. All the animals were asleep in the forest. After reading the story, ask students the following questions:

  1. Why did the animal (alligator, etc.) move from place to place?
  2. What do all animals need to survive?

Pre-Visit Activity Kindergarten

Everybody Needs a Home

Objective: Students will generalize that people and other animals share a basic need to have a home.

Subject Areas: Language Arts, Environmental Science

Duration: one 30 minute session or longer.

Group Size: Any, however, no more than 25 students is recommended.

Setting: Indoors

Key Terms: Differences, Similarities, Survival, Needs, and Habitat


Humans and other animals, including pets, farm animals, and wildlife have some of the same basic needs. Every animal needs a home. But a home is not just a house where people live.

Home, for many animals, includes the outdoors. The scientific term for an animal’s home is “habitat.” An animal’s habitat includes food, water, shelter or cover, and space. Because animals need the food, water, shelter and space to be available in a way that meets the animals’ needs, we say that these things must be available in a suitable arrangement.

A house may be considered shelter for people. People build houses, apartments, trailers, houseboats, and other kinds of shelters in which to live. An animal’s shelter might be underground, in a bush, in the bark of a tree, or in some rocks. Animals need a place to find food and water. They also need enough space in which to live and find the food, water, and shelter they need. Home for an animal is more like a neighborhood with everything in it that is needed for survival.


  1. Ask the students to draw a floor plan of where they live or where a person they know lives. A floor plan will include the things the students need in their home—a place to cook and keep food, a place to sleep, and a source of water.
  2. Once the drawings are finished, have a discussion with the students about what they drew. Ask the students to point out the things that they need to live and that they included in their drawings. Ask the students how their homes are similar to animals’ homes. If a human home has several stories, it can be compared to a forest with an attic (the canopy), first and second floors (understory), and basement (ground). How does the ground furnish the needs of humans and of animals?
  3. Make a “gallery of homes” out of the drawings. Explain that everyone has a home, and all the homes together form a neighborhood. Neighborhoods and local services form a community. A community of animals includes animals (and plants) of different species. How are human communities like animal communities?
  4. Ask the students to close their eyes and imagine a bird’s home, an ant’s home, a beaver’s home, the President’s home, and their homes. Show the students pictures of different places animals live.
  5. Discuss the differences and similarities among the different homes with the students. Have the students identify the components every animal needs in its home—food, water, shelter and space in which to live—arranged so the animal can survive. Summarize the discussion by emphasizing that although the homes are different, every animal needs a home.


  1. Select an animal and draw its home or habitat. Compare the animal’s habitat to places where people live.
  2. Take the students outside and look for animal shelters.


  1. Identify three reasons people need homes and three reasons animals need shelter.
  2. Draw a picture of a suitable habitat for an animal. Write a paragraph to describe how habitat meets the animal’s needs for survival
Pre-Visit Activity First Grade
Schoolyard Safari

Activity Summary: Students will learn that every organism requires a place to live that satisfies its basic needs for food, water, shelter and space. Such a place is called a habitat. Students will go on a safari to explore a nearby habitat – the schoolyard – while looking for signs of animals living there.

Time: 20 minute preparation and 40 minutes for the activity.

Vocabulary: Safari

Background: A habitat is a place where an organism lives. A habitat will provide everything an organism needs to live—food, water, shelter, space and a place to reproduce.

A habitat can be large or small. A tree can be an entire habitat for the plants and animals that live there. Even the crack in a sidewalk can be a habitat for the dandelions and ants that live there. Discuss some other places around their schoolyard that might provide habitat.

Tell students that they are going on a safari around their school grounds. They will be looking and listening for signs that animals live or visit their schoolyard. Ask students what some of the signs might be that animals live there. List their suggestions on the board such as insect-egg masses, spider webs, feathers, nests, animal tracks, bird or insect sounds, candy wrappers (people are animals too).

Remind students that while they are on their safari, they need to respect the plants and animals. They are only to observe and not pick any plants or animals.


  1. Divide students into pairs.
  2. Set up a safe area where they can explore and define the boundaries of this area.
  3. Allow students time to find two animals or signs that animals are there. (You can use the Schoolyard Safari Survey for PLT at Click on curriculum, and then PreK guide for a copy.
  4. Gather the students in a group and have them share their findings. Ask the following questions:

    1. What animals did you observe?
    2. What evidence did you find of animals?
    3. What kinds of food would these animals find in the schoolyard?
    4. Where do they get their water?
    5. What kind of shelter might they find in the schoolyard?
    6. Are the plants in the schoolyard important to the animals? Why?
  5. Discuss their findings and ask them if they think they will find the same kinds of animals at TLNC. Will they find evidence that animals live at TLNC? Will they see the same kinds of plants?
  6. Tell students that they will be learning about some of the plants at TLNC and why they are so important to animals (including us).
  7. Tell students that they will be doing an activity when they return from TLNC about some of the plants that they learned about.

Adapted from PLT’s Schoolyard Safari activity and FWC’s Schoolyard Wildlife Program.

Body of Knowledge: Nature of Science

Big Idea: The Practice of Science: A, B, C, D

Benchmarks: SC.1.N.1.1, SC.1.N.1.2 and SC.1.N.1.3

Body of Knowledge: Life Science

Big Idea: Organization and Development of Living Organisms: B, C

Benchmarks: SC.1.L.14.1 and SC.1.L.14.3

Body of Knowledge: Life Science

Big Idea: Interdependence: A, B, C

Benchmarks: SC.1.L.17.1

Pre-Visit Activity Second Grade

KWL Birds

Activity Summary: Students will complete a KWL where they list what they know, want to learn and then finally learn about the basic needs of wildlife.


As a class, the students answer the following question and create a list of their responses:

  1. What do we know about wildlife’s basic needs?
  2. What do we want to know about these needs? Students will go to media center and/or use computer search to answer this question.
  3. What did we learn about wildlife’s needs? This portion of the activity will be completed as the post-field trip activity and can be used as an assessment of their learning.

Body of Knowledge: Nature of Science

Big Idea: The Practice of Science: A, B, C, D

Benchmarks: SC.1.N.1.1 and SC.1.N.1.2

Body of Knowledge: Life Science

Big Idea: Organization and Development of Living Organisms: A, B, C


Body of Knowledge: Life Science

Big Idea: Interdependence: A

Benchmarks: SC.1.L.17.1

Pre-Visit Activity Third Grade

Reading a Thermometer

Activity Summary: Students should be familiar with the use of a thermometer for their visit to TLNC. As a class, students will develop a bulletin board featuring plants and animals found in a chosen ecosystem/environment/habitat. They will discover why these animals are found in the chosen habitat.

As a class, choose an environment or habitat to study. Instruct students to think of or research an animal or plant that could be found in this environment or habitat. Then have students draw a picture of the animal or plant chosen.

Next create a class bulletin board using each student’s drawing. As the bulletin board is completed, you should introduce any appropriate vocabulary needed and facilitate a discussion about why these plants and animals are found in this habitat. The following questions could be used during the discussion:

  1. Are there any special adaptations the animal or plant has to survive in this environment?
  2. How do they get their food?
  3. Where do they sleep?

Vocabulary: Habitat, plant density, soil types (clay, sand, muck, silt), temperature, light density, adaptation, food chain, population, community, producer, consumer, herbivore, omnivore, carnivore.

Body of Knowledge: Nature of Science

Big Idea: The Practice of Science: C, D

Benchmarks: SC.3.N.1.7

Body of Knowledge: Life Science

Big Idea: Organization and Development of Living Organisms: A, B, C

Benchmarks: SC.3.L.14.2

Body of Knowledge: Life Science

Big Idea: Interdependence: A

Benchmarks: SC.3.L.17.1

Pre-Visit Activity Fourth Grade

Measuring Plants

Activity Summary: Students should be familiar with linear measurement and using a microscope for their visit to TLNC. As a class, students will develop a bulletin board featuring plants contributed by the students. These plants will be classified into different categories based on their characteristics.


Ask students to find a picture of a plant they like. Use the photos to create a classroom bulletin board. Have students group the pictures on the bulletin board into categories such as trees, grasses, flowers, vines, water plants, and exotics.

Body of Knowledge: Life Science

Big Idea: Interdependence: A, B, C,

Benchmarks: SC.4.L.17.1 and SC.4.L.17.4

Pre-Visit Activity Fifth Grade


Activity Summary

After discussion about a familiar animal, students create their own animal and are able to explain its special adaptations that help it survive.


Students discuss a familiar animal found in Florida. In the discussion, the students should determine any special characteristics or adaptations it may have and how that helps the animal survive such as deer has a good hearing, pine snake will blend in and is hard to see.

Next, students will imagine an animal and draw what this animal looks like and write about it. When creating this animal they must consider the following:

  1. How does it get its food?
  2. Is it a predator or prey or both?
  3. Where does it live?
  4. What special adaptations does it have?

Body of Knowledge: Nature of Science

Big Idea: The Practice of Science: A, B, C, D

Benchmarks: SC.5.N.1.5 and SC.5.N.1.6

Body of Knowledge: Life Science

Big Idea: Organization and Development of Living Organisms: C

Benchmarks: SC.5.L.14.2

Body of Knowledge: Life Science

Big Idea: Diversity and Evolution of Living Organisms A, B

Benchmarks: SC.5.L.15.1

Body of Knowledge: Life Science

Big Idea: Interdependence: A, B, C

Benchmarks: SC.5.L.17.1