Take a Child Outside Week: Sept 24-30, 2015

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Seeing a turtle along the Wee Walkers Nature Hike

Cooler temps and lower humidity means that Fall is on it’s way and it couldn’t be a better time to participate in Take a Child Outside Week (TACO), held September 24-30, 2015. Take a Child Outside Week is an national initiative through the NC Museum of Natural Sciences with partner organizations throughout the country.  The program emphasizes outdoor nature activities with children to increase their awareness and appreciation of the environment.  Here are several outdoor activities at local parks to highlight this program:

City of Raleigh Parks – has several organized events throughout different parks where you can learn about the native animals and plants in our area, enjoy a family campout, hike a nature trail, feast on s’mores and a story around the campfire, and many more events; several events are FREE or have small fees; to see the complete list visit the City of Raleigh’s TACO website; as a hint, the Wee Walkers program at Durant Nature Preserve Park is a great organized nature hike for young ones

Wake County Parks – their list of TACO organized events includes nature hikes, a twilight bike ride, nature play day, junior meteorology experiments, tree and spider identification activities and a storytelling festival; several events are FREE or have small fees; to learn more check out the events on Wake County Parks TACO website

JC Raulston Arboretum – join the plant experts at the Arboretum for a variety of nature crafts, scavenger hunts; several events are FREE or have small fees; learn more about the TACO events at JC Raulston Arboretum calendar

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Eno River State Park

NC Museum of History – although not a specific TACO event, join the museum’s garden staff for Saturday’s in the Garden, an informal tour of the History of the Harvest exhibit along Bicentennial Plaza; FREE; Saturday, Sept. 26 from 1:30-2:30pm; for more info visit event details 

Prairie Ridge Ecostation – listen to a story and take a nature hike, explore the nature play area (bring bug spray), discover the nature garden, or explore the nature trails; for more ideas, visit the Prairie Ridge Ecostation website

Eno River State Park – take a walk with a ranger to search for salamanders and amphibians, go canoeing, learn about Occoneechee Mountain’s geologic wonders; for more details visit the NC Parks TACO website and select “Eno River”

William Umstead Park – learn about insects and butterflies, discover animals native to the park, watch the Amphibian movie, take a short (0.6mile) nature photo hike, go fresh water fishing on Big Lake; for more details visit the NC Parks TACO website and select “William Umstead Park”

Falls Lake State Park – go on a spider safari complete with campfire story and s’mores, take your child fishing; for more details visit the NC Parks TACO website and select “Falls Lake State Park”

NC Art Museum – visit the Museum Park to explore the Park Art including a new “Park Pictures” exhibit; my personal fave is hiking the unpaved trail to discover the Cloud Chamber (aka Hobbit House) exhibit

NC Environmental Education – listen to nature stories, go on hikes, visit with native animals and more; check out the NC Environmental Educations’s complete list of TACO events in the Greater Raleigh area and beyond

If you can’t make it to any of these organized events, check out TACO’s list of suggested activities and head to the nearest park or greenway and just explore!

Take a Child Outside Week: Sept 24 – 30, 2014

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Brookhaven Nature Park hike, Fall 2012

With the fall weather on our heels, it couldn’t be a better time to participate in Take a Child Outside Week (TACO), held September 24-30, 2014. Take a Child Outside Week is an national initiative through the NC Museum of Natural Sciences with partner organizations throughout the country.  The program emphasizes outdoor nature activities with children to increase their awareness and appreciation of the environment.  Here are several outdoor activities at local parks to highlight this program:

Umstead Park – various organized events that week including: Animals of Umstead, Hug-a-Tree, Learn to Fish, Millin’ Around, American Beech Hike; for more info search their September calendar

JC Raulston Arboretum – various organized events that week including: Leaf Rubbings, Garden Bingo, Plant Sale, Cloud Watching, Garden Storytime; for more info visit their September calendar 

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Prairie Ridge Ecostation Nature Play Space

NC Museum of Natural Sciences – a few events that week including Nature Stories and a family-friendly event on Sat, Sept 27 at Prairie Ridge Ecostation; for more info visit the Prairie Ridge Ecostation TACO Events Page

Historic Yates Mill County Park – enjoy several events including Paddle the Pond, Apple Orchards, Mill Tours, Fishing Footprint, and an organized Nature Hike; for more info visit the Yates Mill Events

Blue Jay County Park – free events this week including Hopper Herding and Nature Stories; pre-registration is required; for more info visit the Blue Jay County Park Events

Bill hiking with Jerry at Harris Lake, circa 2008
Pre-kiddo pic of Bill hiking with Jerry at Harris Lake, circa 2008

Lake Crabtree County Park – free scavenger hunt event on Mon, Sept 29 at 6pm; pre-registration is required; for more info visit the Lake Crabtree County Park Events

Harris Lake County Park – various events including Park After Dark and a Drop-in Nature Exploration; for more info visit the Harris Lake County Park Events

American Tobacco Trail – attend the Biking with Bats 3-mile bike ride on Sun, Sept 28 from 6-8pm; for more info visit the ATT Events

 

Durant Nature Park

  • Durant Family Campout (COR Reclink barcode #161109) – Fri, Sept 26 at 6pm; ages 6+; a lakeside campsite will be your home for the night; have an overnight experience including dinner, a night hike, s’mores, a light breakfast and fishing; Adults $15, Youth $10; for more info check the Reclink description or visit the Nature Programs page
  • Wee Walkers (COR Reclink barcode #161125) – Thu, Sept 25 from 10-11am; easy paced hike around the park; free; pre-registration is required; for more info check the Reclink description or visit the Nature Programs page

If you can’t make it to any of these organized events, check out TACO’s list of suggested activities and head to the nearest park or greenway and just explore!

By the way, what TACO activities in the Greater Raleigh area am I missing?  Please let me know in the comments section below.

9/15/2014 Update: Since this post was originally posted, the City of Raleigh has compiled a list of TACO week events happening at various parks around the county.

Prairie Ridge Ecostation

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A few weeks ago Claire finally got her own special park day where we took advantage of an early Spring day and headed to the Prairie Ridge Ecostation, which is NC Museum of Natural Science’s outdoor learning space.  Even though the science museum is located downtown, this outdoor gem of 45 acres is located down the street from the NC Museum of Art at 1671 Gold Star Drive in Raleigh.

The Prairie Ridge Ecostation is an outdoor oasis of walking trails, play spaces, nature programs, animal habitats, gardens, and more!  This particular day we spent the morning with friends listening to the storytime program, walking the trails, and exploring the outdoor buildings/gardens.  After parking, we headed on the paved trail (with the small signage) through the woods and eventually found the outdoor storytime spot at the amphitheater.  I love the idea of outdoor storytime, but with the noise from the nearby road and a novice story teller, it did not make for optimal conditions. So, even though several of the smaller kids lost interest, there is plenty of adjacent natural play areas: tunnels and slides, sifting, digging, stacking, balancing, jumping on tree trunks and more!

img_5519Next, we passed by several picnic tables and open spaces on our way to the grassy walking trail.  The trail follows along the stream and then crosses into the lowland forest and piedmont prairie areas.  Near the piedmont prairie area is a building that overlooks the pond that is made for bird watching.  The kids had a great time looking for birds and playing in the building.  After we arrived back at the beginning of the trail (about 1/2 mile total) we visited the Green Building, which is used mostly for educational programs but also has restrooms and a back deck great for picnics. Since we didn’t pack a picnic we continued to explore the grounds and settled in the Nature Neighborhood Garden.  The garden features NC native plants, dry stream beds for collecting run-off water, a koi pond and more.  Claire and I enjoyed some quiet time on the benches under the pavilion before heading out.

This outdoor expansion to the science museum is a must-explore spot for any family; wear old clothes, pack a picnic lunch, bring a carrier for any non-walking children and plan to get dirty!

Resources:

Thumbs up: outdoor learning opportunities, play space, picnic spots, bird watching

Thumbs down: story time program is in its infancy