Taking your family outside provides wonderful chances to bond and learn while staying safe. Now that playgrounds and libraries are closed due to the virus families are looking for new ways to let the kids play away from the house. We at the Community Nature Center encourage outdoor exploration & play. Taking your family outside provides wonderful chances to bond and learn while staying safe. Now that playgrounds and libraries are closed due to the virus families are looking for new ways to let the kids play away from the house. We at the Community Nature Center encourage outdoor education and play with all of its benefits on social, physical and mental health. or education and play with all of its benefits on social, physical and mental health.
So what is there to do besides hike? And what if our kids don’t want to (or can't) read signs to learn about our local flora & fauna? Here are a few ideas to get you started!
#1 Look for Bugs
Bugs, birds, and reptiles are all are easy to spot at the Community Nature Center! Kids love animals and are sure to have fun pointing them out. Stop by the log cabin in the morning and check out a a guidebook, binoculars, or a magnifying glass to add to the fun!
#2 Scavenger Hunt
There are TONS of printable nature & outdoor scavenger hunts for all ages available online. Your local Prescott Public Library also checks out hiking backpacks complete with a laminated scavenger hunt for ages 12 and under. You can right click on the photo of the one above and download it. We also like photo scavenger hunts such as PBS's Toddler, Preschool, and Elementary Photo Scavenger Hunts -- Be sure to share your photos with us so we can feature you on our Facebook & Instagram. If you complete a scavenger hunt at the Community Nature Center, come visit the log cabin in the morning for a fun prize!
#3 Loose Parts Nature Play
We have a big loose parts play area for children & families. This includes a child-size picnic table, wooden blocks, tree cookies, sticks, boards, pinecones, stones, cookware, seed pods, bones, spoons, rope, and more! Creativity abounds in the loose parts nature play area. There's even a scientific Theory of Loose Parts that explains why natural loose parts boost children's creativity & STEM skills.
#4 Have a Picnic
We have picnic tables available in a variety of locations for a nice shady meal outside. You might see some curious critters or be serenaded by some birds. Just be sure to clean up when you leave!
#5 Create Art
Use what you find on the ground (without picking what’s rooted) to create nature mandalas or land art. This is a wonderful way to let your child’s expression thrive while taking time to focus and be present. If you take photos and tag us on Facebook or Instagram (or email them to us) we can feature you on our pages!
#6 Pan for Gold at the Old Pump
There is an old red pump located towards the back of the nature center. Have fun pumping water like the old days, and maybe even discover some imaginary gold (or fool's gold if it's a special day)! Be sure to follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see when we are stocking the fool’s gold so you can take home some treasure!
#7 Help Your Local Ecosystem
Ask a ranger or Community Nature Center staff about volunteering or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for opportunities to give back with your family. Also check out our volunteer guidelines for what you can do each visit on your own. Picking up litter is always helpful; you can make a game out of it, or even make a litter sculpture!
There's always more!
Keep an eye on website, Facebook page, or Instagram. Most of our work is with the schools here in Prescott, but we occassionally provide family classes and place-based activities for kids led by our employees or volunteers. We strive to make all programs inclusive of all ages & abilities. If you have something you'd like to teach here or bring your family group or homeschool group, let us know! We'll be happy to help you out.
Do you have ideas for other activities families can do at the Community Nature Center? Let us know and we’ll share them! Now that you’re ready for adventure, we hope to see you soon!
By Amie Ouderkirk, Community Nature Center AmeriCorps member, parapro2 at Granite Mountain School, and professional mom