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Beyond School

In October 2020, the Peoria Park District is launching “Beyond School.” These classes are appropriate for homeschool purposes, but can also be used as an educational supplement for students engaged in online school learning. Programs are available for students ages 4-17, in three categories: Fitness, Nature, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).

Each class is 6 hours spread across 3-4 sessions over the course of a month. Classes are scheduled in October, November, and December. Registration for each session closes the Friday before classes begin.

In addition, the Park District offers other ways to support student learning this school year. Please scroll down for descriptions of these program offerings.

Register for Beyond School Classes

Class Descriptions
(Not all classes are available in all ages for all sessions; see registration information for details.)


KidFit Jr (ages 4-6): Let’s introduce physical fitness through play, simplistic games, and following directions. Led by an accredited trainer, KidFit Jr. will provide children with age appropriate, traditional PE games (with restrictions due to COVID), obstacle course work, and basic functional movements to help develop coordination, balance and proper movement patterns.  Children will learn the importance of physical fitness and the benefits of continued movement, all while having fun.

KidFit (ages 7-10): This program will challenge kids, aged 7-10 through multiple modalities.  In this fitness series, kids will learn basic functional movements, bodyweight callenstenics and engage in traditional PE games and physical fitness testing (COVID restrictions apply).  An accredited trainer will provide age appropriate training, such as cardiovascular based movements, strength movements, and flexibility movements to help children develop a base for physical fitness.

Intro to Weightlifting (ages 11-13): This course is designed to introduce the basic fundamentals of strength training.  Children will learn basic anatomy as it pertains to weightlifting, as well as proper movement patterns and lifting technique.  An accredited trainer will provide proper supervision of all lifts/movements.  An educational section will also be part of this series showcasing the benefits of strength training as well as explaining the different terms associated with strength training.

Weightlifting I (ages 11-13): This course is designed to build on the previous course, Into to Weightlifting.  In this class, children will learn additional strength training movements, different training modalities, as well as modifications for different movements.  An accredited trainer will also talk about exercise selection, frequency, rest and recovery.  This course will also educate children on the common injuries associated with strength training.

Weightlifting II (ages 11-13): This course is designed to help apply the fundamentals of strength training into effective programming based on goals.  An accredited trainer will not only guide children through strength training workouts each week, but will also help children develop their own program based on need/physical limitations/goals/restrictions.  Children will also get a glimpse into how strength training builds better athletes through sport-specific programming.


Young Naturalists at Forest Park Nature Center (ages 4-6): Get ready to explore, ask questions, and have fun in the forest with Forest Park’s naturalists! Enjoy stories, activities, and songs all focused on the natural world. If weather cooperates, we will enjoy a short hike each time class meets. One adult is invited to participate along with each child.

Outdoor Adventures at Sommer Farm (ages 7-10, 11-13): Engage in some classic outdoor activities at beautiful Sommer Farm. Participants will go canoeing, fishing, and hiking during this session. They’ll also experience other Sommer Farm favorites such as archery, gaga ball, and, for the older age groups, teams course activities.

Wilderness Survival at Camp Wokanda (ages 11-13, 14-17): Learning survival skills builds confidence, teamwork, and a knowledge of world around us. Instructor Kelsey Ernst will lead participants in skills such as fire and shelter building, identifying safe sources of food and water in the wild, navigation and preparedness, wilderness first aid, and more.

Treemendous Trees at Forest Park Nature Center (ages 7-10): Here in the Illinois River Bluffs, trees are all around us, so let’s take the time to learn about and appreciate them! We’ll discover the science of forestry through activities, observation, and spending time among them in the woods. Participants should prepare to be outside for at least part of each session.

Discovering Climate Science at Forest Park Nature Center (ages 11-13): Climate isn’t just the weather – it’s an incredibly important force that determines what can grow and thrive in our world! Participants will discover the carbon cycle, learn how to identify weather and climate patterns using data, and make connections between our climate and the living environment around us. Prepare to spend some time outside when weather allows.


The Scientific Method (ages 4-6, 7-10): In these sessions, your child will not only learn what the scientific method is, but put it to the test! Various experiments include using chemistry to make batteries and rockets, using biology to create their very own monster using simple genetics, and using physics to create a structure that will prevent an egg from cracking when dropped, all while using the scientific method.

Science in the Past and Future (ages 4-6, 7-10): In these sessions, your child will learn not only how the way we use science has changed over time, but also how science has remained the same! From learning about simple machines and how ancient peoples used them to create architectural feats, to making their own architectural masterpieces using simple machines and designing their own tools and transportation systems for the future.

Dinosaurs (ages 4-6, 7-10): Everyone loves dinosaurs! In these sessions, your child will not only learn about dinosaurs, but what the world was like when they walked the Earth, as well as what animals came after the dinosaurs. Activities include learning about plate tectonics and geological time, learning about fossils and how paleoartists figure out what dinosaurs look like, and making dinosaur dioramas.
Registration links COMING SOON!
additional resources

Peoria Zoo Free School Admission Program – through December 30, 2020
Having missed the spring field trip season due to COVID-19, Peoria Zoo is hoping to increase its use as an educational resource this fall by offering discounted rates.  All children, K-12 grade, with an ID card from an Illinois school will receive free admission to Peoria Zoo Monday – Friday.  Accompanying parents and non-school age children will pay a reduced price of $7. (Don’t have a school ID- bring anything in as documentation that the child is enrolled in e-learning/virtual or a homeschool program.) To enhance the learning experience, teacher’s packets and activity sheets can be downloaded from the Zoo’s website: https://www.peoriazoo.org/teachers/

Printed and Virtual Resources

Encourage your children to write by having them submit an article for the PlayHouse Times. Pictures, comics, videos, and podcasts are also welcomed.

Explore the diversity of Central Illinois through multicultural StoryTime videos.

Learn about different careers with our the PlayHouse’s Virtual Career Days, and use accompanying curriculum materials to build skills related to these careers.

Explore the animals at the Peoria Zoo through Peoria Zoo Animal Fact Sheets. For each animal, find animal facts and sometimes a video from their Keeper!

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