Schools and Education

Descanso Gardens is a valuable resource for educators seeking to facilitate meaningful nature experiences. Serving over 14,000 participants each year from all over Los Angeles County and beyond, we provide opportunities for students to discover and connect with the natural world through close observation, self-guided exploration, and hands-on learning.

Field Trips

Field trips are available free of charge for qualifying schools with advance reservation. A qualifying school must meet one or more of the following requirements:

  • An accredited California public or private school
  • A preschool providing academic instruction to students over two years of age
  • A program through a school that provides academic instruction to students
  • A Head Start or Child Development Center
  • Homeschool groups (see below for information on Homeschool Days)
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Book a Field Trip

1. Choose the type of field trip that works best for you and your students:

  • Self-Guided Field Trips
    Self-guided field trips allow teachers to structure and lead the educational experience. Offered September–June, Monday through Friday, at scheduled times beginning at 9am. Minimum of 10 students per day, maximum of 80 students per day. Scroll down to the Teacher Resources section to access pre-visit materials to help you prepare for your field trip.
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  • {FULL} Docent-Guided Field Trips
    These hour-long guided tours are offered October–May, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 9:30 or 10am. Minimum of 10 students per day, maximum of 60 students per day (unless otherwise noted). Please note that all docent-guided field trips are full for the 2019–2020 school year.
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    Seasonal Garden Exploration, Kindergarten–8th grade
    : Students explore plant and animal life through multi-sensory garden expeditions. Tour focus changes seasonally and include plant life cycles, habitat explorations and more.
    Habitat Detectives, Kindergarten–2nd grade: Through hands-on activities, close observation, and play, students discover how Descanso is an important habitat for many animals.
    Spring Discoveries, Kindergarten–2nd grade: Students use their observational skills and movement to explore plant and animal life cycles. Available March-May.
    Interactions & Adaptations, 3rd–5th grade: Focusing on California natives, student scientists investigate how plant adaptations support the balance of nature, and explore the many ways plants and animals depend on each other to survive.
    Seeds of Wonder, ages 3–5: Students participate in hands-on, garden-themed activities that nurture wonder through experience, observations, discovery and play. Offered Tuesdays in March and Fridays in April; 10am start time; maximum 48 students.

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2. Reservations for the 2019–2020 school year are now open. Please use the form below to submit a field trip request.

Click here to submit a field trip request.

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3. Descanso Education staff will contact you within 3 business days to confirm your reservation. Questions? Call (818) 949-0120 or email programs@descansogardens.org.

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Teacher Resources

The following resources are available to help you prepare for a visit to the Gardens with your students:

Self-Guided Habitat Student Journal: English/  Spanish
Self-Guided Habitat Teacher/Chaperone Guide: English/ Spanish
Self-Guided Pollination Student Journal: English
Self-Guided Pollination Teacher/Chaperone Guide: English
Field Trip Checklist: English/ Spanish
Introduction to Descanso Gardens Slideshow: English/ Spanish

Common Animals at Descanso Gardens: English
Descanso Gardens Map

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Homeschool days

Spend the day at Descanso Gardens exploring nature with your own focus and at your own pace. These self-guided visits for homeschool students are available three times throughout the 2019–2020 school year. Free of charge; advance registration is required.

Reservations for 2019–2020 Homeschool Days are now open. Please use the form below to submit a visit request.

Click here to submit a field trip request.

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Descanso partnership programs

The Harvest Garden

The Harvest Garden encourages curiosity and discovery of the natural world by providing diverse communities the therapeutic benefits of gardening. Descanso Gardens partners with a variety of schools and organizations to bring these communities to the Harvest Garden.

A Day of Discovery

A Day of Discovery at Descanso Gardens is a collaboration with the LAUSD Beyond the Bell Office of Outdoor and Environmental Education. In this program students investigate several of California’s native habitats; explore relationships between living and non-living things, and record observations in journals provided. For more information, click here.

My Masterpieces: Discovering Art in My Community

A collaboration between Pasadena Unified School District, the Pasadena Educational Foundation, and local cultural institutions, My Masterpieces provides community-based arts learning opportunities for students in Pasadena, Altadena, and Sierra Madre. Descanso Gardens offers a 3rd grade program combining nature exploration and artmaking to build on students’ creativity, visual literacy, and observational skills. For more information, click here.