School Programs

Knowledge that Cannot Be Forgotten

Our school programs provide authentic learning experiences for all grade levels, preschool through college. We connect classrooms to the outdoors, knowing that we learn the most from experiences that reach us deeply. SJMA has combined our school programs with Durango Nature Studies’ programs. These programs pair classroom presentations with unforgettable trips on public lands– in the San Juan Mountains and at our Nature Center. All school programs are aligned with state and national science standards, including Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Colorado Academic Standards.

Please reach out to Adriana Stimax at for up to date information on available grants and a quote for your program.

Preset Curriculum

In our programs, we can focus on a deep dive into one specific topic or approach with a broader view to several topics. All of our programs address the standards through the lens of outdoor and experiential education specific to our location. Our standard programs consist of a one hour classroom lesson followed by a three hour field trip on a separate day.

Our preset curriculum topics include the following:

  • Rock Cycle–Building Up and Breaking Down
  • Plant Adaptations
  • Animal Adaptations
  • Living Things (and populations) Grow and Change — Life Cycles and Adaptation
  • Trophic Detectives
  • Weather, Climate, and Habitat
  • Watersheds and River Ecology
  • Ecological Relationships
  • Fire Ecology
  • Nature through the 5 Senses
  • Watersheds in Winter / Snow Science
  • Surviving and Thriving in Winter
  • Archaeology and Human History in the Southwest

For more information on program details and suggested grade levels, check out the following documents.

Design Your Own

If there is a standard or topic not listed below that you would like to explore or you would like a longer or shorter program, please reach out to us for a custom lesson on the topic of your choice. If you are interested in a lesson series for a longer term project, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions. Sample programs include:

  • The Social Lives of Bees
  • Bats: Adaptations for the Sky
  • Bird Survival
  • River Ecology
  • Winter Wildlife

Interested? Contact our Education Director, Adriana Stimax at


SJMA has wonderful preschool programs for younger students that can be held in the classroom or schoolyard of your preschool. These classes  are made even more exciting by our array of pelts, bones, birds, and other sensory material. Program choices include:

Animals Have it Covered:  Fur, Feathers, and Scales – Oh My!

This hands-on lesson allows students to observe and investigate different animal coverings and learn how they help each animal survive. Students will categorize animals based on their coverings, talk about covering differences between juveniles and adults, and also learn every function (such as camouflage, insulation, and protection) that the coverings provide. Meets CO Science Standards: Pre-K: 2.1, 2.2

Shadow Play: A Lesson on Light

Shadows. We see them every day, inside and outside, but how are they created? Through different hands-on stations and a myriad of exploratory objects, students will discover what creates a shadow, how the sun moves, which changes the position of a shadow, and how a shadow reflects an object in front of the sun. Meets CO Science Standards: Pre-K: 1.2, 3.2

Winter is Here: Animal Adaptations

Students will explore the many structural and behavioral adaptations of local wildlife as they prepare for winter survival.  We will bring in samples of winter furs, dress up in animal “winter gear,” create winter homes, and play games to imitate the tasks animals must do to survive winter. Meets CO Science Standards:  Pre-K: 2.1, 2.2

Move Like an Animal

How do animals move and why?  Join us as we hop, fly, swim, and crawl our way through the animal kingdom. Students will observe different body structures of animals and how they allow an animal to move.  We will classify animals into groups according to how they move and discuss specific attributes that make that animal unique. Meets CO Science Standards: Pre-K: 2.1, 2.2

Interested? Contact our Education Director, Adriana Stimax at