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Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

Reinstein Woods School Programs

Guided Outdoor Lessons

DEC staff and trained volunteers will lead your students on an outdoor exploration of nature. These standards-based lessons are taught outdoors, last about 1.5 hours, and are offered year-round (unless otherwise noted). Please plan on a two-hour time frame for your visit to Reinstein Woods, to allow time for arrival, dividing into groups and using the restrooms.

Exploring the Outdoors
Grades PreK - 1
A close-up look at nature, emphasizing the development of exploration skills and wonder at the mysteries in the outdoors. Students are encouraged to discover and share the excitement of finding a caterpillar or a chipmunk hole. Hands-on, inquiry-based activities help young children to feel comfortable in the outdoors and to appreciate the beauty and fragility of our environment.

Animal Signs
Grades 2 - 8
An introduction to some New York State wildlife and their habitats. Students will search for "clues" - footprints, gnawed trees, and holes - that animals have left and will use these clues to learn about animals' needs, life processes and interrelationships. Hands-on, inquiry-based activities and natural objects such as animal pelts and feathers will illustrate wildlife adaptations.

World of the Pond
Grades 3 - 8
Students will explore the rich and diverse ecosystem of the pond. After examining the physical characteristics of the pond, students will collect aquatic organisms and observe them closely. The students can then identify these inhabitants of this exciting miniature world and develop explanations about their interconnectedness. Offered May-June and September- October only.

Alien Invaders
Grades 3-12
After searching for "alien" (non-native) plants and animals, students will understand the impact of these invasive species on the environment. In-school program and service projects are also available; call for more information.

Forest and Pond Ecosystems
Grades 7 - 12
Even though Reinstein Woods is a nature preserve, it has been influenced by the actions of humans. This lesson focuses on habitat and wildlife management issues affecting the ecosystems in the woods today. Students will also observe examples of ecological forces at work, such as forest and pond succession, invasive species, and decomposition.

Winter Challenges
Grades 2 - 12
Students will discover how wildlife survive the cold challenges of the winter season by taking a guided walk on snowshoes to search for animal homes, tracks, and other signs. Large groups may be divided into indoor and outdoor sessions, due to snowshoe availability. Snowshoe rental fee is an additional $5.00 per person. Offered December - February only.

Climate Change Connections
Grades 6 - 12
Students will learn about global climate change by exploring Reinstein Woods' own "green" building. Eco-friendly features of the Environmental Education Center are woven into hands-on, inquiry-based activities. Students will discover connections between themselves and the environment. Using what they learn, students will devise ways to go green in their schools and homes.

In-school Programs

DEC education staff will bring nature to your classroom in these exciting educational programs, which last about 45 minutes. Maximum of 25 students per session. Programs may be modified for age groups other than those listed; please call for more information.

Forecast: Frogs
Grades K - 3
Through hands-on and whole-body activities, students take an in-depth look at the adaptations of New York's frogs. An ideal program to supplement raising frogs in the classroom.

Animal Tracks
Grades K - 3
Students learn about animal tracks and traces through interactive activities, then compose their own track "story."

Trash Talk: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Grades K - 8
Students will learn about the three "R's", explore the impact of garbage on the environment, and find out ways to reduce, reuse and recycle at home and school. Activities may include using math to study trash and playing "Recycling Jeopardy!"

Nature's Recyclers: Wonderful Worms
Grades 2 - 8
Students will learn how red wiggler worms take food scraps and make compost to use in vegetable and flower gardens. This presentation will include other creatures living in compost bins, how to make a compost bin and what foods you can feed your worms. A starter kit with worms and some compost will be provided upon request.

What's Flowing in Your Watershed?
Grades 3 - 8
With a tabletop 3-D watershed model, students will learn what a watershed is, how water can become polluted and ways to help protect our water resources.

Skull Science
Grades 4 - 8
Using skulls and furs from New York State wildlife, students will explore how the physical features of different species help them to survive in their environment.

CSI: Critter Sign Investigation
Grades 4 - 8
Students will examine evidence left by insects, birds and mammals and interpret these "clues" to learn about the lifestyles of local wildlife.


Call 716-683-5959 for a lesson or program reservation. Please be sure that the date is acceptable to your group before making the reservation, as we are often unable to reschedule groups. Lessons and programs may be scheduled on weekdays, for morning or afternoon times, based on staff and volunteer availability.

Please contact us a minimum of three weeks before your desired date. In-school programs may be scheduled at any time. For guided outdoor lessons, May, June, and October are our busiest months; call early to reserve your preferred dates. Reservations for spring outdoor lessons are taken after January 1, and reservations for fall outdoor lessons are accepted after August 1.

After making a reservation, you will receive a confirmation letter by e-mail or by postal mail, along with pre-visit materials for guided outdoor lessons.


There is a requested fee of $2.00 per person for outdoor lessons and $25.00 per in-school program session (payable to "Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve"). Groups with financial limitations may request a fee waiver. Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization which supports education programs at Reinstein Woods.

Group Size

To provide the most effective outdoor lesson experience, large classes are divided into smaller groups. The maximum size allowed is 15 students for each Reinstein Woods instructor, and a maximum of 75 students per lesson per day. Large groups may be divided over multiple days.


Schools must provide a minimum of two adult chaperones (and maximum of four adults) for each group of 15 students. Chaperones must be prepared to participate fully in all activities and to assist the instructor with some tasks when requested to do so. Chaperones are also responsible for the discipline of the group.


Students and chaperones must be prepared to encounter weather! Watch the weather forecasts before your tour date and encourage parents and students to do the same. Please make every effort to see that students are prepared for any possible weather conditions. We reserve the right to refuse to take any student outdoors who is not appropriately dressed for the weather.


If you must cancel your scheduled lesson for any reason, please contact us at 716-683-5959 at least one hour before the designated time. We reserve the right to cancel a tour in unsafe conditions (e.g. thunderstorms, high winds, extreme cold). If the weather is questionable, please call us to check the weather conditions at Reinstein Woods and to discuss alternate arrangements (i.e. indoor programs) before departing from your school.

Lunch Facilities

Full service bathrooms are available on site. Small groups (maximum 30 kids) may use the pavilion or classroom for lunch upon request. Picnic pavilions for large groups and restrooms are available at neighboring Stiglmeier Park (Town of Cheektowaga) on Losson Road. Contact the Cheektowaga Parks Department at 716-656-2280 for more information.