Ah, Saturday mornings. What were you like before kids? Lazily laying around, considering what we might do, but didn’t have to, and otherwise taking the day as it came. Now, we try to squeeze as much sleep into our eyelids before the eventual pounce, please, and plans for the day are made and okayed. For us, after emptying the coffee pot, it’s imperative that we do something as a family, preferably outside, mid-morning, and not involving squeaky carts.
So, it was no shock that we were excited when we heard that Operation Green Team of Huntsville has started a Nature Explorer’s club for families with 3-6 year old kids. It meets the first Saturday morning of each month at Hays Nature Preserve. Our kids have enjoyed days playing in their bent tree playground and attending Earth Day Festivities at the Preserve since we moved here. An activity that is educational, outside, and for the whole family? Perfect.
We arrived early, which I would recommend. The girls had time to swing on wood planks, climb in a castle, and burn off energy before sitting down for our organized activities. When the Nature Explorer’s club was officially called to order, you learn the handshake when you get there, we sat on chairs made of tree stumps, appropriate for this week’s topic, trees. The kids were instantly engaged asking and answering questions while Denise Taylor of Operation Green Team read children’s books about the day’s subject.
After the books, it was time to put on our hiking shoes as we were led on a tree scavenger hunt. The kids followed a map and Operation Green Team member Thomas to various trees in the area. Alongside learning about trees, which my wife and I enjoyed, we collected leaves, acorns, and anything else we could find for our art project. The kids took pleasure touching, smelling, and observing nature. It was peaceful, until squeals were heard from around the area when Denise played with a Daddy Long Legs. I think our girls were the only ones filled with fear.
After a well-paced and informative stroll, we gathered around tables made of wood to create a craft centered on the items that we found. The girls busily laid their leaves, flowers, and poor helpless ants between layers of contact paper for our “tree-hunting keepsake.”
Our daughters are 3 and 5, the activities catered to both of their ages. The amount of walking was minimal, and team members do a nice job of making sure that all kids are engaged and active while learning about nature. The Nature club meets near the park entrance by the playground. We will be back October 6th for their “Leaf Shaped Adventure”. It’s nice to have one Saturday morning a month with a plan. Now, if only we could have avoided the squeaky cart store on the way home.
Who: Nature Explorer’s Club for Families Sponsored by Operation Green Team
When: 1st Saturday of each month from 10-11AM
Where: Hays Nature Preserve
Cost: FREE (advanced registration is recommended)
Contact: Denise Taylor, (256) 532-5326 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.