School programs are conducted by the Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association (VBGA). Our programs support the BC Ministry of Education’s Science Curriculum and aim to enhance environmental stewardship and a love for the natural world.
Guided 90-minute programs
Bookings for guided programs are now available for the 2017-18 school year. Book early – spots fill up quickly. Create an online booking account. It’s free, easy and secure. If you need assistance, call 604-257-8423
Our programs support the BC provincial curriculum. Please note, a visit to VanDusen’s popular Elizabethan Maze is not incorporated into your 90 minute guided program. If you plan to go to the maze, please do so either before or after your program.
Fees: $8/student, one adult admitted free for every 4 students (including teachers) extra adults pay $10 (Fee INCLUDES entry to the Garden and any self-guided time you may wish to have before or after your guided trip.) A $60 deposit per program is due within 14 days of booking. Cancellations are subject to a $15 administration fee. Any cancellations made less than 30 days in advance will not receive a refund.
Group size and choosing a booking time: We can accept a maximum of 30 students per time-slot (i.e.: 30 students at 10 AM or 30 students at 12:30 PM) If you are bringing two classes on the same day for guided programs, you should book on a Wednesday or Thursday where there are both AM and PM bookings available. For single classes, please try to book a guided program on a Tuesday or Friday.
+-A Sense of Nature: K - Grade 2 (Oct - Nov & Mar - June)
Foster the young biologists in your students, encouraging them to explore nature through focused observation, playful learning games, and collaborative outdoor education activities. As they walk through seasonal highlights in the Garden, students identify key parts of plants and how these parts help plants to meet their needs for growth, play the Maple Leaf Match–up, make earth art, and more!
- Describe and compare plants using different resources, including their senses
- Identify similarities and differences among plants.
- Identify key parts of a plant (roots, stem, leaves, flowers and fruit)
+-NEW! Ecosystem Explorers, Grades 3-4 (Oct - Nov & Mar to June)
Within the tranquil beauty of VanDusen exists a complex and intimately connected ecosystem. By analyzing three native plant species, students will discover the intricate ways plants, big and small, interact with organisms in their environment. After discovering the vital role decomposers play in ecosystems, the group will display their understanding of energy and connections by constructing a collaborative food web.
- Recognize how different components of an ecosystem are interconnected
- Document observations and data on ecosystem interactions
- Observe the biodiversity and complexity found within VanDusen Garden’s local environment
+-Fantastic Flowers: Grades 1 - 4 (April - June)
As students enjoy the beauty and fragrance of flowers throughout VanDusen, they investigate the parts of a flower, their role in pollination, and how pollination fits in the life cycle of flowering plants. Students will search for pollinators in action, explore the interdependence between pollinators and plants, and their role in food production. A visit to the beehives is included.
- Explore the garden searching for a variety of flowers and pollinators and observe
them in action
- Learn about the parts of a flower and how each part is involved in the pollination
- Link pollination to the life cycle of flowering plants
- Begin to understand the interdependence between pollinators and plants and how
they are linked to the everyday needs of human beings
- Explore the garden searching for a variety of flowers and pollinators and observe
+-Pond Peering: Grades 1-4 (May & June)
Hidden beneath the surface of VanDusen’s ponds, lakes and streams is a diverse world of beautiful and strange life. Students explore and learn about the pond environment, use nets to dip into a pond and identify the creatures they find.
- Observe the various water bodies at VanDusen, looking for signs of plants and animals that live in the area
- Observe the wildlife in action
- Investigate the different pond regions (edges, bottom, water column, water surface) searching for living things
- Collect aquatic invertebrates, observe and identify
+-Seed Secrets: K - Grade 4 (Oct - Nov)
Seeds fly, float, hitchhike – and even travel though the stomachs of birds – all in order to spread to new places and grow. Students explore the Garden in search of seeds with parachutes, hooks or fleshy fruit surrounding them. Students will dissect seeds and make “seed babies” to take home.
For guided field trips, a minimum of 30 days notice prior to your field trip date is required if you wish to cancel your booking otherwise the full deposit of $60.00 will be retained. All cancellations are subject to a $15 administration fee.
Guided Field Trip Pre-visit Materials
Download pre-visit material for your guided programs
Self-guided Field Trip Programs
Use VanDusen’s menu of new self-guided tours, lesson plans, guides and scavenger hunts to design the perfect day for your students at the Garden. A diversity of learning resources are available below, spanning the Elementary grades and subject areas, and offering variety in complexity and depth of programming.
Visiting for a self-guided tour allows teachers to customize the experience to meet their needs and schedule, while allowing time for a visit to VanDusen’s Elizabethan Maze. Teachers can also choose to add on our 45 minute guided program, Connecting to Nature, to kick-start their visit.
To ensure a successful day, VanDusen Education staff will work with teachers in advance of their visit to identify the best resources for their class. We will greet the group upon arrival for a short orientation and review of the Code of Conduct with students.
Book online if you’d like to book a self guided group visit for children and youth ages 3-18. This will reserve a time slot for your arrival. Fees are due on arrival (cash, credit or debit): $5/child. One adult is admitted free for every 10 children. Additional adults pay $5. Fee INCLUDES entry to the Garden. If you are already paying for a guided program, you do not need to pay an additional self-guided fee.
For ADULT ( ages 19+) group visits please contact the VanDusen Information Desk at 604-257-8162.
+-Adaptation Exploration (Grades K - 4)
Adaptations are features, traits, or characteristics that help an organism survive and thrive in its environment, and can be classified as structural or behavioral.
Students will understand:
- Living things have adaptations that help them survive and reproduce in their environment
- Adaptations can be either structural or behavioral
+-A Sense of Spring (Grades K - 3)
This self guided tour takes you to some of the more spectacular parts of the Garden in the spring season. Exact blooming times are in the hands of Mother Nature, so you may find not everything in this tour will be in bloom when you visit. As you walk along, be sure to look way up and way down, so as not to miss any of the beauty unfolding.
+-Art in the Garden (Grades 3-7)
Explore themes of art and nature, view artworks and practice artistic techniques in the beautiful outdoor setting of VanDusen Botanical Garden. This guide provides background information on several of the artworks in the gardens as well as activities, discussion points, and extension projects to try back in the classroom.
+-Biodiversity Detectives (Grades 2 - 4)
Biodiversity is important! Having many different living things in an area allows ecosystems to maintain critical ecological services (like providing clean water, air, and pollination). Biodiversity ensures resilience during natural disasters or threats, and preserves the ability for species and ecosystems to evolve under changing conditions.
Students will understand:
- Living things are diverse, can be grouped, and interact in their ecosystems
- Biodiversity is critical for maintaining healthy ecosystems
+-Quick and easy tours, scavenger hunts and bird guides
Don’t have a lot of time, but want a bit of structure to your visit? Check out these tours:
The following one-sheet activities can be easily implemented with very little preparation and can be done in a 60-minute visit.
Connecting to Nature: Guided program add-on
Available as an add-on to your self guided program through the school year (Sept-June) and the summer (July-Aug)!
Jumpstart your field trip experience with a 45 minute guided tour designed to prepare students for a successful day of learning and adventure in the Garden. A VanDusen Educator will lead students along a lake, between volcanic rocks walls, and amongst conifer trees where they will discover cool, weird, and wacky plants and animals. Students will make connections with the natural world and identify two iconic native trees through interactive games, stories and an introduction to the Tree of Life.
Cost per 45 minute mini guided tour: $50 per class (up to 30 students)
Wednesday, June 13th – Friday, June 15th
Spring flowers throughout VanDusen Botanical Garden provide the perfect setting to explore pollinators and the habitats that support them. Pollinator Days gives students opportunities to identify the pollinators in their backyards, explore pollen up close, make connections between pollinators and food, practice citizen science and become empowered to make a difference. Plan your day around visiting various educational activity stations, where VanDusen educators will lead activities. School groups will be given maps of the Garden and the freedom to explore the Garden on their own schedule.
Facilitated learning stations include:
• Microscopes and pollinator specimens presented by the Environmental
• Pollen Collection and bee life cycles
• ‘See Like a Bee’ – students use special paint and black light to learn
about nectar guides and the visible light spectrum of bees
• Citizen science training and monitoring, including pollinator
• Visit a real beehive and sample different types of honey
• Photo booth with lots of fun and wacky pollinator props
Who: Grades 3-6 (Limited spaces available, as priority is given to schools participating in the CWF Wild Spaces program. Pre-registration is required)
When: Wed – Fri, June 13 – 15, 2018. 10 am – 2 pm
Where: VanDusen Botanical Garden
Cost: $10/ student. One adult is admitted free for every 10 children. Additional adults pay $10.
How to register for Pollinator Days:
Call 604-257-8443 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm availability
Subsidized Bus Funding
Underserved schools may be eligible for our Nature Express Bursary Funding which offers up to $300 towards the cost of bus transportation to and from VanDusen Botanical Garden. Call 604-257-8423 for more information.
Nature Express Bursary funds are sponsored in part by the McGrane-Pearson Endowment Fund.
Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation: Go Grants – This grant may cover transportation, project materials, and/or program fees.