EDUCATION

classes

CLASSES

Kid's Day Out - Spring 2024 Class Schedule

Green And Blue Butterfly
CLASSES

Animal Adventures

In collaboration with Frederik Meijer Gardens

Have fun exploring the survival techniques of a snake, rats, chinchilla, and tarantula! Enjoy watching live animal presentations, listening to animal stories, completing art projects, playing animal games, and trying your luck at animal challenges. Perfect for ages 3 to 6, but all ages are welcome. Come in from the cold and have some fun! Reservations are required and can be made online at MeijerGardens.org/calendar or jbzoo.org, or by calling Meijer Gardens at 616-808-3619 or John Ball Zoo at 616-336-4302.
 
Saturday, January 21 10-11:30 am
Sunday, January 22 1-2:30pm
 
Members/$8  Non-Member/$13
CLASSES

Frequently asked questions

Kid’s Day Out – A fun day for kids 4-10 years of age. No need to stress over finding a babysitter to enjoy an afternoon kid-free, drop the kids off at the zoo and let them have a great afternoon out as well. 

Spring Break Camp – Our always popular summer camp has expanded to include Spring Break. Kids get out into the zoo at a great time of year when animals are often most active and also have lots of opportunities to explore the park during adventure time!

Summer Camp – Kids 3 years through going into 9th grade enjoy day camps here at the Zoo. Individual classes are designed around specific topics, students enjoy zoo and park time, animal encounters, behind-the-scenes activities, and much more. 

Youth classes are unique, fun, hands-on learning experiences! Each class follows its particular theme and uses a variety of age-appropriate methods to stimulate the learning process including; zoo tours, games, stories, hands-on activities, crafts, up-close animal encounters and more. Parent letters/updates are sent home first and last days of the session to keep you informed of your child’s activities and special projects are often brought home many days.

We provide classes for children ages 3 years to those entering 9th grade, and most age groups have a variety of themes/topics of classes. Every class will be a fun and unique learning experience that utilizes the zoo setting, but we suggest you talk with your child about which class(es) they are most interested in and choose together.

No. Students will be strictly limited to classes for their age/grade level. Older and younger students can cause disruption to the learning process. For the benefit of all class participants, we cannot allow younger or older children to attend. Three and four year olds must be that age by the first day of class. 

NO. All students must be self-sufficient in the bathroom; diapers and pull-ups are not permitted.

John Ball Zoo will make reasonable accommodations for students with special needs to attend class. This includes but is not limited to allergies, medical conditions, and social/learning needs. Receiving adequate information from guardians is crucial for our success. Any information is kept strictly confidential. Please notify us of your child’s needs as far in advance as possible to allow us to best prepare a quality experience for your child. Any student who poses a safety hazard to themselves or others will be dismissed from the program. If your child requires 1:1 supervision, you may be asked to assist in finding an assistant for them. 

We are committed to providing a safe and nurturing learning environment that features excellent supervision. The emotional and physical well-being of each child is a responsibility we take seriously. Different age levels have different ratios. 3-year-old programs operate at a 1:5 teacher-to-student ratio, 4-year-old programs operate at 1:7, and all others are a 1:10 teacher-to-student ratio. Class sizes are strictly limited. You can expect your child to have a safe and fun learning experience!

Due to space limitations and class design, it is best if parents/guardians separate from their child at the drop-off location. Most children, while perhaps experiencing a brief moment of anxiety, overcome their fears and participate more quickly without a parent present. If you think your child cannot remain in class without you after a few minutes, please consider waiting another year. 

Light snacks are provided during all pre-school programs, Kids’ Day Out programs, and select Camp Sessions. 2-day camp sessions all have time for lunch as well as a snack break. 4-day camp sessions have a snack break for the 3-year-old and 4-year-old classes. 

We are unable to provide child care before, between, or after classes. If you and your child arrive late and do not see someone at the drop-off area, proceed to the office in the Zoo Administration building. Missed activities will not be made up. Parents may be required to accompany their children into the Zoo to meet with their class. 

* A $10 late pick-up fee will be charged for any child not picked up within 15 minutes of class dismissal.

Due to the popularity of the Summer Camp program, we limit registration to two – day camp sessions per child.  We ask that three year olds only register for one class. While we appreciate your enthusiasm and support of our program, we feel this allows more children a chance to participate. Many classes are repeated from year to year, allowing your child, over the course of two summers, to participate in most class offerings. Each class has the same curriculum from year to year so please plan for this when registering.  

Yes. There is no charge to sign up on a waiting list and all full classes maintain one. While there is no guarantee an opening for you child will become available, we do encourage you to add your child’s name. We will notify you as quickly as possible if such an opening occurs. If classes are full, you can register for a waitlist online. 

Confirmations will be processed immediately when registering online. Confirmations are emailed so please confirm email addresses are accurate and up to date in the system. 

In the event you must cancel, money will be refunded (less a processing fee) ONLY with advance notice. Changes in registration must be made in writing and emailed, mailed, or dropped off at the Zoo Administration Office during normal business hours (M-F, 8am-4:30pm). 

Kids Day Out – $10 processing fee, 1-week notice

Day Camp – $20 processing fee, 2 weeks’ notice

Mail: John Ball Zoo – Education, 1300 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Email: [email protected]

Please contact the Education Department at (616) 336-4302 or email at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

In the event the zoo must cancel a class participants will receive a full refund. In the case of severe weather (i.e. blizzards or ice storms), if Grand Rapids Public Schools are closed, the zoo will cancel all classes for the day and attempt to reschedule. For Saturday classes staff will make the determination either the day before or the day of and will call all participants. Please make sure to list the best contact phone numbers on your registration form. 

Please call the Education Department at 616-336-4302 (Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm) or email [email protected]

Only a parent or legal guardian can register their child. Using online registration, you can simply select from those classes that are still available for a schedule that works for you. Please note that Non-Members wishing to attend with a Member must wait until the Non-Member registration date, typically the week after Membership registration begins. 

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Great Lakes Rare Turtles

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Turtles are in trouble around the world and locally. The Great Lakes Rare Turtle Program addresses on threats that are existential and widespread for Blanding’s, Spotted, Wood, and Box Turtles. The John Ball Zoo is working wth partners to study head starting as a conservation tool, protecting nesting habitat for Wood Turtles from raccoons, and researching the distribution and status of Spotted Turtles in Southwest Michigan. The zoo partners with local community scientists to indentify road crossings that pose a threat to Blanding’s and other species of turtles.

Partners

Poweshiek Skipperling

Oarisma powesheik

Facts
Habitat

Grassland, Wetlands (inland)

Threat Range

Critically Endangered

Region

Extant (resident) - Canada (Manitoba); United States (Wisconsin, Michigan), Possibly Extinct - United States (South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa), Extinct - United States (Indiana, Illinois)

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Mitchell's Satyr

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The prairie fens of southern Michigan are a stronghold for the Endangered Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly. We are working with Michigan State University, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and the Kalamazoo Nature Center to develp to propagate this rare butterfly. Offspring reared in the program may be used to supplement wild Mitchell’s Satyr populations.

Partners

Freshwater Mussels

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Freshwater Mussels are one of the most fastenating groups of animals. Unfortunately they are also one of the most imperiled groups on animals with more than 70% of North American species listed as Threatened or Endangered. Our own Grand River is home to an impressive 32 different species, 19 of which are listed. The John Ball Zoo is working with scientists at Grand Valley State University to evaluate Grand River Mussel populations. During the 2023 field season, the team documented over 1,000 individuals from 27 different species. This includes the Endangered Snuffbox Mussel.

Partners

Habitat Hero

Community Science
About

The Habitat Hero program is focused on creating better urban pollinator habitat by giving away native plants to west Michigan community members. By giving away native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, we are inviting community members to provide crucial nectar sources for pollinators as well as become more involved in pollinator conservation in their own yards and gardens.

Partners

Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

Community Science
About

American Kestrels are one of North America’s most abundant raptors, but their populations have been steadily declining since the mid 1960’s. This year we have begun participating in the American Kestrel Partnership, run by the Peregrine Fund, to monitor local kestrel nest boxes and help better understand Kestrel population trends and biology.

Partners

Grand River Sucker Monitoring

Community Science
About

Suckers are a very important, and often overlooked, group of migratory fish that inhabit the Grand River. Every spring they migrate upriver from Lake Michigan to spawn in tributaries of the Grand River. We are joining a project started by the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago to determine how changes in temperature and flow of the streams impact the spawning behavior of the suckers.

Partners

Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

Community Science
About

One of the major threats to turtle populations is mortality associated with roads and vehicles. We have a team of trained volunteers who survey predetermined road crossing sites and report the number of turtles they find at these locations. We plan to use the data to assist in conservation decision-making regarding roads and turtles in west Michigan.

Partners

Michigan Butterfly Network

Community Science
About

As part of our pollinator conservation work, we want to understand how native butterfly populations are changing over time. By training community members to use the Michigan Butterfly Network monitoring protocol, we are offering passionate people the opportunity to help contribute to our understanding of butterfly populations in west Michigan.

Partners

Bat Surveys

Community Science
About

West Michigan is home to several species of rare and threatened species of bats. This summer we will have a group of volunteers collecting bat occurrence data by driving predetermined routes and using special recorders and software to identify bat species. The data will be submitted to the North American Bat Monitoring Project as part of their ongoing analysis of bat abundance and occupancy across North America.

Partners

Massasauga Rattlesnake

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The Massasauga is Michigan’s only venomous snake and plays an important role in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, these snakes are declining in numbers and are listed as Threatened. The John Ball Zoo helps to educate the public on the plight of the Massasauga and helps conservation biologists study them in the field. Currently, we are assisting Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Grand Valley State University, and Sarett Nature Center develop new technologies to monitor this secretive snake species.

Partners

City Nature Challenge

Community Science
About

The City Nature Challenge is one of the world’s largest annual community science events. Started by iNaturalist in 2016 as a friendly competition between the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, this bioblitz has grown into a global phenomenon with over 500 cities participating. Taking place over the last weekend in April each year, the City Nature Challenge is all about getting outside and documenting the biodiversity in and around our communities while building and strengthening relationships with other people who are passionate about conserving local species. The West Michigan City Nature Challenge is Michigan’s only City Nature Challenge event, and encompasses Allegan, Barry, Kent and Ottawa Counties. We are excited to partner with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and many other local organizations to engage our communities in four days of exploring our biodiverse outdoor spaces.

Partners

Michigan Area

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Freshwater Mussels

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Habitat Hero

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Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

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Grand River Sucker Monitoring

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Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

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Michigan Butterfly Network

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Bat Surveys

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Massasauga Rattlesnake

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City Nature Challenge

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Get Involved!