Block Building Area–In the building area, we have a table with sides to make building accessible to younger children. There are blocks that can be checked out to use in this area. The materials can be varied, sometimes bringing in animals, trees, and/or natural items to help us explore.
Music Area–The Pay It Forward Club sponsored by Santa’s Pantry developed this music wall to use in the play area. There are also dancing scarves and musical instruments that can be checked out to use in this area. This was made by children for children. Feel free to add more items to it for more musical play.
Messy Materials Area–In the Messy Materials area, there are several logs, longer pieces of wood, smaller pieces of wood, and lots of mulch! Items are added to this area seasonally. It becomes a digging area, a building area, and a place for creativity. We often see lots of cooperation right here.
Water Area–The water area is a small pond and a waterfall that has been existing at the nature center outside the wildlife viewing window. There is a plaque in the center with people who helped donate funds and build the pond. This spot allows for observation and interaction with the water.
Dirt Digging Area–Children can check out buckets and garden tools out as needed for digging. It’s a great place to find worms. We plan to turn this into a bird’s nest area.
Open Play Area–There are several open areas we use for large motor skills, game playing, and learning activities. We intentionally keep one large open play area behind the center to have space needed for larger play activities.
Gardening Area–For now, there are just some wildflowers and a garden loom used for special occasions. We hope to build garden boxes in this sunny area this spring. This is an area where we could use some additional help, building garden boxes, planning the garden, and keeping the garden going throughout the season. Do you have a green thumb?
Gathering Area–Just off the trail in the woods is a gathering area around the campfire pit. There are several logs used for seating. The area is used to give instructions, read stories, or just share around the campfire in this area.
Nature Art Area–In the nature art area, there is a child friendly table with tree stumps for seating. There is also a clear painting easel. Mirrored trays and lots of loose parts come out from time to time to change up this area and what we are doing here. Nature art also often adorns the nearby trees!
Climbing Area–In the climbing area, several large logs piled on top of each other that become a natural place to climb on a regular basis. The younger and older children all love it. There are also balance logs nearby that are low to the ground, perfect for taking appropriate risks.
Other areas are sprinkled through the woods and more will be developed in the future. Additionally, we use spaces along the trails for nature play and learning during hikes. There is a large mound of dirt that becomes a climbing hill. Tracks are often found in this part often as the animals must like it as much as the kids! Fallen logs are used for climbing, cut logs as seats and tables, and more. There are at least two “thrones” in the woods. One is near a larger open area, often called the throne room. There are several groundhog holes there. This open area often becomes a play area. Additions might include a few more “adventure” type areas, such as a fort building area, a “beehive” play area, and a fairy garden with a place for children and families to add their own fairy additions for others to find. Large rocks for climbing, animal statues, and other elements as time and resources permit would be great. We also need an entry feature and storage for the items we use outside frequently. You can help through service projects, donating funds, connecting us with resources (like those big climbing rocks), or helping with the planning and implementation. The biggest compliment is bringing children out to play! Look forward to seeing you soon!