School Programs

Description of the video:

Video opens with aerial footage showing Bradford Woods property including the tops of green trees in the woods, grassy open fields, a stream leading to a lake, a bridge, service roads, and a building.

On-screen text reads: At Bradford Woods, students have engaged in hands-on learning using our unique outdoor classroom for more than 60 years.

Video shows smiling, school-aged campers walking through the woods, and then changes to school-aged children walking on a path toward a building.

Video shows students listening and looking up into the tree canopy as an adult talks and points in the air.

Video changes to an adult man talking to a group of school-aged children in the woods. The man starts walking and the children begin to follow.

On-screen text reads:  We bolster environmental literacy and stewardship among students using a curriculum designed to meet state standards.

Video changes to two young boys stacking sticks in a pyramid, seemingly to build a fire.

Video changes to a girl pushing leaves into large sticks that are leaning against a tree, seemingly to build a rustic shelter.

Video changes to young people shifting through a water puddle with a hand-held strainer.

Video shows school-aged children looking into small bowls they are holding with one bowl shown containing water and a crayfish.

Video changes to a girl handing an adult a large stick that he then places up against other sticks leaning against trees, seemingly to create a shelter. Other children watch.

Video changes to students walking off-trail through the woods.

On-screen text reads: Students also engage in recreation, team-building, and character-building activities.

Video changes to a large indoor cafeteria filled with school-aged children and some adults sitting at tables finishing up a meal. A student walks through the middle of the cafeteria as others walk in the background.

Video changes to a grass-filled hill with several children rolling down the hill in play.  Other children, as well as an adult, stand or walk along the top of the hill watching them roll down.

Video changes to a scene showing a web of ropes tied together and tied to trees to simulate a giant spider web. Students are shown stepping over and ducking under the ropes trying to navigate their way through the openings in the web.

Video changes to an adult walking with smiling, school-aged children down a grassy hill. 

On-screen text shows a quote from an unnamed Monroe County Community Corporation Elementary Teacher that reads: “We see it time and time again—the students who struggle with traditional learning in the classroom excel in this learning environment.”

Another adult and more children come into the picture and many start raising their hands and giving “high-fives” to one another.

Video changes to an aerial footage of the tops of green trees.

On-screen text reads: Contact us today to build a program for your students! Visit our web site at

The screen changes from video footage to a screen showing the IU Trident.  Text fades in on the screen reading “Indiana University” and “” at the video ends.


89%of students increase their enjoyment of nature

86%of students increase their desire to spend time outdoors

85%of students increase their connectedness to the environment

Two young girls measure how high a stick is with their hands for use in shelter building.

Custom Curriculum

Over 20 years ago, a team at Bradford Woods worked alongside area school administrators to align our curriculum with Indiana Academic Standards. We now boast over 25 different modular units and three thematic units with alignment for third through sixth grade in the areas of English/Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Mathematics, and History. Class options include Geology, Dirt on Dirt, Wings of the Woods, Invasive Species, and more. We continue to refine our curriculum to meet the needs of today’s students and our changing world. Upcoming options include Alternative Energy and Physical Activity in the Outdoors.

You can review our curriculum units, recreation and evening activity options below. Schools can work with our program coordinators to choose options that work best for their students. If you're interested in replacing curriculum units with teambuilding initiatives, high challenge activities, or other recreation options, talk to your coordinator.


AQUATIC LIFE: Students explore the aquatic communities of BW by using chemical tests and collecting samples of macroinvertebrates. 

COMPASS: Students will become familiar with the parts of the orienteering compass and be given instruction in its use.

DIRT ON DIRT: Students learn about soil and its importance to the woods. 

GEOLOGY: Students learn about the geological history of Bradford Woods and south/central Indiana, including the influence of glaciers on local topography.

HISTORY HIKE: Students will tour the historic property and find out how the history of the Bradfords fits in with the greater cultural history of Indiana.

INITIATIVES: Teamwork is key to much of our success. Students are challenged with problem solving activities that require the cooperation of the entire group. 

INSTINCTS FOR SURVIVAL: Students participate in an animal survival game. Students assume roles of herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores. How they play out these roles determines the outcome of the game. Students gain an understanding of food chains, food webs, and other factors relating to survival and adaptation. 

OUTDOOR LIVING SKILLS: Good conservation practices are necessary for minimum impact camping. Students are introduced to the basic requirements for selection of a good campsite, basic equipment needs, fire building techniques, shelter building techniques, and leave-no-trace ethics. 

TREES: Through examination of trees, both living and dead, students develop an understanding of the tree life cycle. Identification keys, close observation and sensory awareness activities aid in the student’s recognition of several trees common to Indiana.

VERNAL PONDS (SEASONAL): “Vernal” is the latin word for “spring.” Learn about springtime ponds and their role in the ecosystem, including what plants and animals can be found in them. 

WETLANDS: Learn about different types of wetlands, the important role of wetlands in the environment, as well as the plants and animals that make their home in wetland areas. Discover how Bradford Woods uses a wetland system to treat its waste water.

WILD EDIBLES: You can eat wild plants?! The primary objective is to increase students’ awareness of wild edible plants available in south central Indiana.

WILDFLOWERS (SEASONAL): This module emphasizes observation, identification, function, and appreciation of wildflowers. 

WILDLIFE IN THE WOODS: Big, small, furry, and scaly: they come in all shapes and sizes! Students will increase their awareness of the natural environment as they observe animal homes and signs. 

WINGS OF THE WOODS: What makes a bird a bird? Students are introduced to bird adaptations and bird identification as they investigate a variety of bird habitats. Students will identify common local birds by using field observation techniques and proper use of binoculars and field guides. 

ARCHERY: Learn how to use a recurve bow and practice shooting arrows.

CAPTURE THE FLAG: Large group game that divides participants into two groups as they plot and attempt to acquire the other team’s flag.

CONSERVATION PROJECT: Find an area at Bradford Woods that needs some help and work on a project to make the situation better. A typical project may involve building trail steps or installing water bars.

DREAM CATCHERS: Learn about the Native American craft and make your own.

FISHING: Cane pole fishing in the Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole Lake in hopes of catching a big one! We practice catch and release at Bradford Woods.

FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS: Make a bracelet for a friend or for yourself.

NATIVE AMERICAN GAMES: Large group games based on learning skills and traditions of Native Americans.

PAPER-MAKING: Use old newspaper and office paper along with leaves, pine needles and other items from nature to create recycled paper. Make a few sheets to take home!

SCAVENGER HUNT: Based on exploring the property and locating a variety of things found in nature.

STAFF CHOICE: A Bradford Woods staff member will lead an activity based on their interest or skills.

TRAIL EXPERIENCE: Didn’t get enough hiking today? How about exploring more trails on the property looking for animal signs, flowers, and wild edibles? Enjoy a nice trek through Bradford Woods.

ULTIMATE FRISBEE: Large group game that encourages cooperation as participants try to get a Frisbee across the opponent’s goal line.

NATIVE AMERICAN CRAFTS: Learn to make Native American crafts like God’s Eyes and Dream Catchers.

NATURE SKETCHING: Students take inspiration from the outdoors to observe and sketch their surroundings.

KICKBALL: Play a game of kickball.

INSTINCTS: Educational module that can also be used as recreation.

PIONEER CRAFT ROTATIONS (Full group activity): Students participate in pioneer crafting, including rope belt making, quill pen writing, and other activities.

AMERICAN INDIAN LIFE ROTATIONS (Full group activity): Educational module that can also be used as recreation

ALPHA WOLF: A simulated game that begins with information about wolves and allows participants to role- play as a wolf pack while searching for the alpha wolf. Cannot be combined with another option.

CAMPFIRE: Campfires can take many forms, the most traditional being a time for skits, songs, and stories led by Bradford Wood’s staff.

DUTCH AUCTION: Participants are divided into groups and sent back to their cabins to gather a number of personal items. When the participants are back to the meeting place and in groups, an announcer will request different items. Groups that can produce that item are rewarded points. Be creative!

FOLK DANCE: Music and directions provided to teach participants basic folk dances. Dances can include other music, too!

NIGHT EXPERIENCE: Explore Bradford Woods at night. Choose to focus on one of the three areas, or combine activities from all three. The three focuses include: how we use our senses during the night, nocturnal animals, and astronomy. If you are interested in specifically astronomy, the Bradford Woods staff can tailor a night experience with an emphasis on the nightsky and have the kids take a look through our telescope.

AMERICAN INDIAN LIFE ROTATIONS: Can also be used as an evening program.

The programs presented are always full of information that we will take back and use in the classroom. Lessons were invaluable as this is a once in a lifetime experience for several of our students.

– Parkside Elementary teacher

Outdoor Instuctors

Our outdoor instructors are a critical component of our educational programs. They spend countless hours preparing lesson plans and teaching resources to create an exceptional once-in-a-lifetime experience for each student. Their unique “classroom” include outdoor spaces that bring life to each lesson and include vernal ponds, wetlands, prairies, trails, and hillsides. Each instructor has their own unique academic experience and field-based training – many from around the world. Many have advanced degrees in education, leisure and recreation, environmental studies, conservation, sustainability, adventure, and more.

Employment opportunities

Customized programs

We actively meet with teachers and administrators to determine the best content that pairs nicely with current classroom curriculum. We can customize any experience to meet the needs of the school that may include adding our challenge courses for teambuilding or waterfront for canoeing. If your school is primarily interested in leadership development, our teambuilding programs may be the best fit. Contact Amran Ahmad at 765-349-5102 or at to discuss options.

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A tradition of learning

A schoolteacher points out artifacts from the Bradford sand mining operation to her students sometime in the 1950s.

In the 1950s, Residential Outdoor Environmental Education programs were an emerging concept, and the partnerships Bradford Woods forged with the Bloomington and Martinsville school districts were some of the first of their kind in the country: Monroe County Community School Corporation started attending in 1955, and the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville started attending in 1957.

Many teachers from both of these school districts were active in building and creating the outdoor curriculum at Bradford Woods: some teachers would come for weeks at a time to teach fifth graders about astronomy, ecology, natural science, and more. Though our programs have always been focused on environmental education, from the very beginning they have also been about teaching values and social skills, such as family-style meals, peer relationships, and living well with others.