Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Frugal Family Fun: Nature Centers

After reading Last Child in the Woods I've had this desire to find opportunities for both myself and my daughter to be outside. We've been out on the playground a few times. I try not to cringe too much when her brand new Gymboree outfits get stained with mud and grass. I've learned my lesson the hard way- buy cheaper clothing. The money I could make from resale is worth less than the value of natural learning experiences. Now my wishlist includes mud boots and rain jackets, sticks and stones for the nature "table", and more fresh fruits and veggies straight from the farm.

If you've never checked into your local parks or nature centers I urge you to start now. They can offer budget-friendly opportunities for creating fun family memories. We were out at one of my favorites yesterday, Springbrook Nature Center. It's a fairly small nature preserve surrounded by stores such as Walmart, a mall, fast food joints, and apartment complexes. For all of it's girth it packs a neat little toddler-sized punch. There are wood-chip lined paths in addition to the main paved one. If you're dealing with tiny legs the paved path is the perfect length for a stroll without getting them so tired that you end up becoming their own mode of transportation.

Now, on this particular night they were having one of their family summer evening programs. Specifically it was Insects of the Praries and Woodlands Hike & Sweep. The cost wasn't bad at all- $3 for adults, $1.50 for children. Considering the price of movies and that this is a non-profit preserve run largely on donation I'd say it was money well spent. We even got some pictures while we were out there....


Am checked out a pair of deer bones who had caught their antlers together while fighting

Hide and seek by the remains of a tree killed by a local tornado

When we got back from sweeping for insects our guide set up a live show with a microscope & projector

This beetle thing just wouldn't keep still

Our fly, after it had been in the freezer for a bit

Crazy fly mouth!

Doesn't this look like a preying mantis? It's actually a damselfly.

So if you have the time DO check into your local nature center. You never know what gems you might find! ^^


  1. Funny, we did the same thing last week. We've lived here for 1 year and never been to the county environmental center. It had several really cool for kids activities on the inside and miles and miles of trails that I did not know about on the outside. But it began to rain and we didn't get to hike about but now I know of more local trails.

    Those pics of the insects are great!

  2. We have a wonderful Nature Centre too... we haven't been for a while and you've reminded me to take the kids. Thanks for posting this on 'Friday's Nature Table'.
    Blessings and magic.

  3. I'm glad you liked the pics. I did what I could with them- they all came from my cell phone. I keep forgetting to recharge my old cruddy digital camera so I've been "making do."

    It's been raining a lot here too. I think Santa might be bringing rain boots and jackets for Am AND Mommy this year.