Spring has sprung (thank goodness), and in this issue we have a roundup of fun ways to explore nature with the kids. Shake off those winter doldrums, grab your rain boots (because let’s be real), and go learn and grow together at these fun activities.
Story Time and Sprout Smart at the Seymour Conservatory
The Seymour Conservatory in Tacoma’s historic Wright Park is a wonderful place to see beautiful flowers in bloom, and it’s a nice, warm outing during the rainy months of early spring. The conservatory also hosts special story times with gardening and science themes.
Wednesday story times for preschoolers include a story and a short art project with a nature or plant theme. These are offered on select Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and are moving to select Sundays this summer. Also offered are Sprout Smart classes. These are kids’ gardening classes with activities such as planting tiny gardens and playing plant bingo. These are currently on the calendar through April.
There’s a suggested donation of $3 per person for most conservatory events. Last year, a handful of the Sprout Smart classes required preregistration and additional fees. Check the Metro Parks Tacoma site for more details on all events at the conservatory.
Kids’ Classes with the Master Gardeners
If your kids have ever planted a sunflower or pumpkin seed at the fair, you’ve probably met a Master Gardener. The Master Gardeners are highly skilled volunteers who can help you with a whole variety of gardening questions. They also run an outstanding free program for children off Pioneer Road in Puyallup, at the Washington State University Demonstration Garden. Programs are about 11/2 hours and start with a short story and lesson followed by hands-on activities in the garden. Programs are designed for kids ages 3 to 11 with parents and begin in early May.
Nature Walks with the Tacoma Nature Center
Mother nature grows big plants without any tending. It’s easy to find a beautiful walk in the South Sound, but if you’d like to learn while you explore, consider taking a guided walk with volunteers from the Tacoma Nature Center. These are held in parks around Tacoma and are free although advance registration is required. While not appropriate for strollers, they are great for kids 3 and up who can walk on their own. There also are guided walks at Point Defiance with the park ranger and the park’s arborist.
Take a Hike
What better way to learn about nature than to get out in it? The Washington Trails Association makes it easy to find kid-friendly hikes on its website. You can even sort by distance and special features, like waterfalls. Want some company in the woods? Find the Hike it Baby website or Facebook page and join like-minded parents on adult-paced hikes or toddler-led rambles.
Grow Your Own
Is your junior green thumb asking to grow his or her own food or flowers? Your favorite nursery can help you both choose hardy, fast-growing plants. Nasturtiums and beans are two good choices.