We have lived in the area for over a year now, but it wasn’t until last week that we finally made our way to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. If I could go back in time I would, instead we bought a yearly pass and have visited four times since. We have found peace in the Butterfly House, adventures on the pirate ship play area, and amusement seeking out the cast of scarecrow characters scattered around the grounds.
Our lastest visit was to take part in the Seeds to Sprouts program for 2-5 year-olds that meets at 10AM on selected Fridays. With her new love and knowledge of the Butterfly House in the distance, it wasn’t easy corralling Haze into the Visitor’s Center Classroom where the class meets, but we made it. Greeted by a friendly staff and crayons on the table with pictures of nature to color on, we were set to learn about this week’s lesson Pinecones.
Misty Hertzig, the woman who runs the program, had a packed house. Kids were excited and ready to learn. She instantly engaged all age levels while reading The Lonesome Pine by Jane West. It was a nice introduction to Pine trees through the tale of a tree that didn’t quite fit in, but in the end found purpose – being turned into a book about him. There is something deeper there, but the kids took away an introduction to what a pine tree is, which was quickly followed up by being able to touch and stroke pinecones and their branches.
After the introduction to our coniferous friends, we made our way back to our tables to make pinecone bird feeders out of, yes, you guessed it, pinecones, animal fat, and seeds. Haze enjoyed “painting” the cone and rolling it in seeds so much that her love of sister came out when she declared that we should make one for her too, I’m going to take it as a thoughtful gesture.
After a short break to clean up, we went outside to see some real live pine trees. Misty did a nice job of sharing knowledge of the trees with the kids while giving them activities to test the information she shared with them earlier in the class; asking them to find pinecones that had been eaten by squirrels or if they had a male or female pinecone.
The class was well paced, informative, and had the right mix of learning with fun. Not that we need another excuse to head back to the gardens, but I know we will be there October 12th to learn about Monarch Butterflies. I’m planning now for how am I going to keep Haze from wanting to take one home, lets just say we had a little “issue” parting with a winged creature while making our way to the car.
Who: Seeds to Sprout Program
When: Selected Fridays
Where: Huntsville Botanical Gardens
Cost: Parents free with membership or Garden admission. $8 per child
Upcoming: October 12: Monarch Butterfly & October 26: Squash
Contact: Educational Department 256-837-4104 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Meyer is a Special Education teacher from Madison, Wisconsin, whose wife’s job relocation changed their family roles and physical location. He's now a stay-at-home dad in Madison, Alabama, to two awesomely creative, sometimes challenging, and mostly sweet five and two-year-old girls who fill his days, nights, and in-between spaces. When with or without them, he writes, works-out, wonders, wishes he wouldn’t worry, wrestles with his wife’s commitment to her job, and listens to music. You can also find him at www.papasense.wordpress.com, on Twitter @papasense, and Facebook.