A Winter’s Day at Playful Nature Explorers….
Children arrive to our indoor classroom space at the Just Be Cause Center greeted by hellos and smiles from Mara and their fellow Explorers. Seasonal themed, nature-based sensory bins and loose parts are available as friends find their way into the classroom. Mara eagerly listens to stories of adventures of the previous afternoon.
Once everyone has arrived, Explorers gather for a brief community circle of songs, stories and sharing. We’ve been exploring hibernation both in the classroom and at the Garden. Some children choose to add to the “bear caves” they’ve been building with recycled boxes and are busy adding cotton ball “snow” to their caves. Others have built child-sized cave out of chairs and the community circle blanket and are pretending to hibernate and awaken at signs of spring.
Before long it’s time to head outside. Before layering on snow pants, hats, and mittens we join together once more for snacks brought from home. The walk to Ithaca Children’s Garden takes as little as 10 minutes or as long as a half hour depending on explorations discovered along the way. Sometimes there are tracks in the snow to follow or some busy ducks along the inlet to chat with. Once at the Garden the play continues. Some Explorers continue the hibernation play, working on the snow cave they began the day before. Others are checking on bird feeders made the week before while two children are deep in conversation huddled over a “treasure” found in the snow. All the while Mara responds to an invitation to make the bird sounds to wake up the sleeping bears while the children with the treasure invite the bird feeder patrol to join in the search for more treasures. Always too soon, parents and caregivers arrive, picking up backpacks and signing their Explorers out in the Kids’ Kitchen.
While Playful Nature Explorers is based at Ithaca Children’s Garden, the new ICG Education Outpost at the Just Be Cause Center (a lovely 10 minute stroll from Ithaca Children’s Garden along the Cayuga Waterfront Trail) provides a delightful indoor retreat in inclement weather.