Nature Centre services for daycares and schools

The Harakka Nature Centre offers guided and free environmental education for daycare and school groups in Helsinki. Environmental education courses are available for educators and teachers, as well as for city residents. Activities are organised at the Nature Centre's premises on the island of Harakka and on the mainland.

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Lapset seisovat meren äärellä kallioilla haavit kädessään
Photo: Raisa Ranta

The Harakka Nature Centre is a field station for environmental education in the heart of the archipelago nature. At the Harakka Nature School, students learn outdoors in the sea breeze or in the shelter of a laboratory. A Nature School day on the island always offers some insight to take home. On the island, you embark on a tale of adventure to the pace of the young nature researchers. The Harakka Nature Centre's courses are guided by the environmental services' own staff and other experts.


Island adventure days for early childhood education groups

Apply for an island adventure day for pre-primary education pupils in April

The Harakka Nature Centre organises island adventure days for daycare centre and pre-primary education groups in Helsinki from May to September. The spring season extends from May to Midsummer and the autumn season from mid-August to mid-September. Apply for island adventure days with an online form in March-April.  The Harakka Nature Centre informs daycare centres in advance of the exact application period by e-mail. The island adventure days are distributed to the applicant groups based on the order of registration and the early childhood education area, taking into account regional equality.

During the island adventure trip, an environmental educator will introduce your group to the unique archipelago nature and the underwater world of the Gulf of Finland by exploring and experiencing. Experiential island adventure excursions are suitable for pre-primary education groups aged five and six. The language of the adventure is Finnish. 

Choose the right time and duration for your group

The maximum size of an island adventure group is 16 children.  For larger groups, the Nature Centre reserves two parallel island adventures that start at the same time. The excursion should include at least two adults from the daycare centre per each island adventure group.

You can choose the duration of the island adventure trip to be 3 or 4 hours. The start time of the trip can also be chosen to suit the group. Island adventures usually start at 9:30 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. Four hours on the island allow groups to experience more. The day always includes a half hour break for food. Groups arriving for the adventure will receive an information letter before the day of the excursion!  The letter provides more detailed instructions for preparing for the excursion day.

The island adventure is free of charge, with the exception of the ferry trip, which is paid for by the groups themselves.

Island adventure application

See the application instructions on the Finnish page. The application form is filled in in Finnish. The application period in 2024 is 20.3.-22.3.2024. We will contact all applicant groups by email at the end of the application period. 

Päiväkotiryhmä istuu meren äärellä kallioilla ja seuraa ympäristökasvattajaa
Photo: Raisa Ranta

Nature school days for school and upper secondary school groups

Apply for the 4th–6th grade nature study day in the spring

The Harakka Nature Centre organises free nature school days for schools in Helsinki. The nature study days are aimed at grades 4–6 of comprehensive school. The duration of the nature study day is 4–5 hours.

A nature school teacher and their assistants will guide the pupils on an expedition to the island’s rocky shores and forests. The class is divided into smaller groups on the island and pupils have access to research equipment. The class’s own teacher participates in supervising and guiding one group with the help of the nature school teacher’s instructions. The observations and experiences of the day are shared with the entire class in the afternoon. Together with the instructors, the teacher participates in taking care of the pupils' day. The class’s teacher is responsible for organising the pupils’ travel and picnic lunch. 

Nature study day consists of research themes that change according to season

Birds are the most visible inhabitants of the island of Harakka in spring. We can monitor the activities of the nesting birds on the island from a close distance. In the autumn season, we pay attention to archipelago plants, butterflies hovering over plants, as well as other insects. We collect them for research in different ways. The sea and plankton are examined on the shores of the island throughout the year. We collect plankton with a net and look for algae and aquatic micro-organisms. We examine the findings and the exciting details of marine life in the nature house with microscopes. With the iNaturalist mobile app, pupils can learn to recognise species in a new way.

Application for nature study days

The spring nature study days are applied for by 15 March 2024 and the autumn nature study days by 8 May 2024. Find more information and the online application form for the 2024 nature study days on the Finnish page (click on the upper right corner).

Luontokouluopettaja opastaa oppilaita lintuluokassa
Photo: Raisa Ranta

Apply for the 7th–9th grade and general upper secondary school environmental research day

The Harakka Nature Centre organises free nature school days for schools in Helsinki. The environmental research days are aimed at the 7th–9th grades of comprehensive school and general upper secondary school pupils. The environmental research days have continuous admission. Teaching takes place from May to September on the island of Harakka and on the mainland at other times as well. The duration of an environmental research day is 2–5 hours.

News headlines talk about blue-green algae, microplastics, air pollution, oil and dirty water! During the environmental research days, we study the state of the environment in Helsinki and consider what we can do for our environment. We carry out practical microplastics and water research in a teaching laboratory located in historical premises. We consider the significance of the results obtained and the significance of our actions in our own living environment.

Optional themes for the environmental research day

The state of the Baltic Sea by examining water samples (duration 2–5 hours)

What is the state of the Baltic Sea and what can you do for the Baltic Sea? We learn water sampling and water research in a teaching laboratory. During the day, we can peek beneath the surface of the Harakka brackish water aquariums. Alternative: Water sampling research in the school's vicinity.

Microplastics in fish (duration 2–5 hours)

Do fish in the Baltic Sea contain microplastics? How can you have an impact on the microplastics that accumulate in the Baltic Sea? We study fish intestinal samples in the Harakka teaching laboratory and delve into the plastic problem. Alternative: Microplastics analysis at the school / PowerPoint presentation remotely / at the school with assignments.

Air quality (sample collection 2–4 weeks, contact teaching 2 x 2 hours)

What kind of air do we breathe? We study air pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide concentrations and factors affecting air quality. The pupils conduct their own research, which includes collecting air samples, analysing them with a photometer in the teaching laboratory and evaluating the results. Alternative: Air quality analysis at the school / PowerPoint presentation remotely / at the school (2–4 hours)

Application for the environmental research days

The environmental research days have continuous admission by e-mail: environmental educator Asta Ekman, firstname.lastname(at)

Opiskelija tekee tutkimusta opetuslaboratoriossa
Photo: Asta Ekman

Courses in environmental education

The courses organised by the nature centres and schools in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area are aimed at teachers, daycare staff, educators and adult municipality residents. They provide you with skills to move children and young people in nature, as well as ways to discuss everyday environmental issues. The courses are mostly free of charge. Municipal borders are not an obstacle to participation in the courses.

Open the course brochure on environmental education 2023-2024 (pdf, in Finnish)


Spring 2024

Please find the detailed course information and registeration in Finnish (course language). 

  • Trash course for teachers Tue 9 April 2024 from 10 a.m. to 2.30 p.m., Rastila Manor and its surroundings
  • Bird Course Thu 18 Apr 2024 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Museum of Technology and Viikki Nature Reserve
  • Trash course for teachers and educators in Teams Thu 18 Apr 2024 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m
  • Wild herb course Tue 14 May 2024 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Haltiala farm area


Lapsi haavii vesinäytteitä kalliolla
Photo: Raisa Ranta
Päiväkotilapset tutkivat kalliolammikon elämää aikuisen johdolla
Photo: Raisa Ranta
Lapsi esittelee isossa muoviastiassa olevaa korvameduusaa
Photo: Raisa Ranta
Lapset tutkivat vesinäytteitä mikroskoopeilla
Photo: Saana Kemppi
Luontokoululaiset kiikaroivat kallioilta merelle
Photo: Marianne Aalto