What do these questions have in common?
- How can I explore nature when the weather’s (too cold, too hot, too rainy, etc)?
- How can I expose my kids to nature when I hate being outside?
- How can I entertain my kid’s obsession with animals and/or insects without going to a zoo?
- How can I keep my kid entertained in the winter without resorting to screens or a germy indoor play area?
- Where can I learn more about the plants, animals, and insects around me?
- Where can I find inspiring and fun nature-based activities to do with my kids?
They all have the same answer: Visit your local nature center!
We’re big fans of our local nature center, but I’m always surprised to find out how many families are unaware both of their existence and the treasure trove of benefits they’re missing out on. We visit our nature center often, and definitely at least once each season. Sometimes we just need something interesting to do. Sometimes I need something to do that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Sometimes we want to learn something specific. No matter what our purpose is for going, we always have fun.
Each nature center will be different, but here a few things most nature centers offer:
Interesting things to see: Most nature centers will have a few animals for kids to see up close and personal. Ours has turtles, lizards, snakes, rodents and insects. It also has a bird viewing area, with binoculars to use for an even better view.
Fun activities to do: Many nature centers will offer a craft or some activity pages for kids to do while they’re there. Most offer special programming, such as crafting projects, story hours, or child-centric hikes.
Resources: Think beyond the library! Nature centers often resources at hand that you can explore, such as identification guides and books to spark or entertain your child’s interests.
Help: The naturalists at your local nature center are there to assist you. They’re happy to help answer questions or to give you ideas about how to incorporate nature into your everyday life. Chances are, whatever question your child has asked that has you stumped, they’ll be able to answer (or point you in the right direction).
Have you ever paid a visit to your local nature center? What’s your favorite activity there?