For Teachers

The Great Bay Discovery Center hosts a variety of educational programs throughout the year. These include professional development opportunities for educators such as Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) and school programs for children in grades 1-5. The Center and its boardwalk are accessible to individuals with physical limitations. Please notify us ahead of time of any special needs of your students and chaperones to ensure that your scheduled program allows for everyone’s full participation: (603)778-0015.

Teachers on the Estuary

This professional training increases teacher understanding of estuary science and how to engage students in the investigation of changes in their local environments, using data from the Reserve’s monitoring programs. Through TOTE, teachers and students interact with scientists, discover information about local environmental issues, and participate in field trips and community conservation projects. Learn more!

If you are a teacher looking for online resources to help build lesson plans, this list includes sites from a variety of oganizations.

Education Programs for Grades 1-5

Come explore the amazing natural world of the Great Bay Estuary! We invite you and your class to delve “hands-first” into an interactive experience that will broaden your students’ understanding of the natural and cultural history of the region. There is a $4.00 per student charge for our school programs and $4.00 per parent chaperone.

We offer both Fall Cultural History (September to October) and Spring Natural History (April to June) field trips led by trained volunteer educators and Center staff. While our programs target 3rd-5th grade students, we can also accommodate older and younger students. Up to 72 students with chaperones can attend each session, and sessions are 2½ to 3 hours long. Most activities are held outdoors at the Center rain or shine. Reservations are required several months in advance and programs fill quickly. Please call the Center for details.

Education programs incorporate science based concepts that meet New Hampshire K-12 Science Curriculum Frameworks in the following areas: Curriculum Standards 3a., 3b., 3c., 4c., 6a., and 6b.

If you are a teacher or school administrator interested in booking a school field trip please contact Beth for more information.

Spring Natural History Program

Horseshoe crabs spawn in Great Bay in the Spring

Spring Natural History Program

The Great Bay Discovery Center offers a range of opportunities for your class to discover the Bay’s rich and diverse natural history. This program is offered to visiting school groups in April, May and June. Each field trip includes the following activities:

  • Walk On the Wild Side
    What furry predators hunt in Great Bay salt marshes? How is an estuary like a restaurant? What is a wetland and how do you find one? This guided hands-on and senses tuned-in investigative activity using the Great Bay Discovery Center trail will help your students discover the answers to these questions and more! Get ready to become a “nature sleuth” as you and your students explore the trail, discovering the major upland and wetland habitats along the way.
  • Discovery Tank
    Students gather around the discovery tank for an opportunity to hold live estuarine animals such as horseshoe crabs and green crabs.
  • Waterfront Exploration
    Can animals live in all of those 2000 feet of mud flats that we see at low tide around the Great Bay Discovery Center? Is Salt Marsh Peat a person? What plants and animals can you find in the deeper waters of Great Bay? Let’s poke around in some bay bottom mud, and take a look at some fascinating Great Bay creatures in this hands-on activity. We will uncover the hidden plants and animals found in and around Great Bay and explore their adaptations for survival in the estuarine environment.
  • Estuary Soup
    Try your hand at concocting “estuary soup” in our Great Bay Cafe. Discover all of the necessary ingredients that make up the Great Bay Estuary in this highly interactive activity. Sprinkle a little salt, grind in some bacteria, add a piece or two of detritus and plenty of phytoplankton into your bowl. Find out the rest of the recipe and make your own filter feeder meal to help you discover who else benefits from this delicious dish.

Teacher Resources: These resources can help you prepare your class for their field trip, or review what you learned when yuo get back to your classroom!  We are in the process of compiling these resources and will add more as we create them.


Fall Cultural History Program

The Discovery Center offers a unique Great Bay environmental heritage program in September and October. These activities encompass many of the N.H. Social Studies curriculum standards for 2nd through 5th grade as outlined in the Great Bay Discovery Center Fall Program teacher resources pdf file. Each 3-hour field trip includes the following activities:

  • Bounty of the Bay
    Through an interactive first person account of natural resource utilization of the Great Bay area, students will tour our newly-opened Great Bay Special Collections room located in the basement of the Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center. This activity focuses on the tools that were used for the harvesting of wildlife through trapping, waterfowling, ice fishing, and shellfishing.
  • Trail of the Arrowhead
    Did you know that the Great Bay Discovery Center is located at a spot along the edge of Great Bay that was once used by the Msquamskek people over 400 years ago? Come along and follow the “Trail of the Arrowhead.” A guide will lead your students on a discovery walk where they will learn about native plants and animals along the way. Students will travel “back in time” as they visit an Abanaki-style fishing encampment. While in camp they will have a chance to taste smoked fish, a staple in the diet of the Pennacook and Abanaki Nations that once fished Great Bay.
  • Tom Wiggin, Salt Marsh Farm Boy
    Sit on the shore of Great Bay and listen to the story of Tom Wiggin, a fictitious character based on a real family that lived on Great Bay many years ago. Back in the 1800s, farmers cut salt marsh hay to feed their livestock. In this activity, your students will see real tools that were used for harvesting the hay and learn how they kept it dry at high tide. Make sure to try a taste of switchel before you leave!
  • Great Bay Country Store
    Gundalow boats were the first “tractor trailers” of Great Bay. They carried everyday products to many ports around the Piscataqua Basin. Products like cloth, flour, smoked fish, and sugar would then be distributed to country stores where could be purchased or traded. Join us in our own “Great Bay Country Store” to learn where these local products came from. After we make our purchases, we will climb aboard the “Driftwood II,” a dry-docked model Gundalow for a time of exploration and hands-on learning.

Teacher Resources:

Get in Touch with Us

There are many educational resources at the Great Bay Reserve. Please contact us if you have questions.