Nature Centers and Events for Multi-Disciplinary Learning
Summer is a great time to get outdoors, and explore deep into the woods. Guided nature walks, and self-directed exploration of nature, can connect to many other interests. Nature centers are an essential resource for outdoor learning. For a list of Western Mass nature centers and their offerings, read our post, Local Nature Centers Connect Families to Nature Through Interpretive Programs. The following upcoming events use a love of nature as a jumping off point to encourage creative free play, environmental stewardship, and even art studies.
On Mondays July 25, August 1, 8, & 15, young naturalists ages 8-11 are invited to become Junior Rangers at the Great Falls Discovery Center. This four-part nature education workshop will teach children about their local habitat. Kids will become experts on the Connecticut River Watershed, and have the chance to earn a Junior Ranger Patch from Mass Parks. Events such as this are great for instilling in your child a connection with nature, which can be a crucial part of a sustainable lifestyle. The programs run from 10:30am-11:30am each day. Space is limited and registration is required. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A. Turners Falls, MA. (FREE)
An interest in nature studies and outdoor exploration can also intersect with art studies. Throughout history, many artists have used natural landscapes as the inspiration and basis for their work. Studying the work of local landscape artists, you can often find places you recognize depicted through drawing or painting. Local artist Karen Evans has based some of her work on local landscapes. Her exhibit, “Impressions of Turners Falls” will be on view at Great Falls Discovery Center until July 30th.
Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center has opportunities for young children and older youth to engage with nature. Children ages 4 and up, and their caregivers, can enjoy a morning outdoors at Northfield Mountain. On Saturday, July 23, from 10am-noon, families will engage in fairy-themed outdoor activities including games, building fairy houses, launching fairy boats, and reading fairy stories. This outdoor activity intersects with literacy and crafts. To read more about the embedded learning involved in building fairy houses, read our post: Building Fairy Houses Promotes Learning, Creative-Free Play & Citizen Science. Register by calling 800-859-2960. 99 Millers Falls Road. Northfield, MA. (<$).
On Thursday, July 28, 6pm-8:30pm, people ages ten and up are invited to engage in service-based learning by helping to save the biodiversity of the Connecticut River. Invasive species grow and spread across habitats at an extremely fast rate and pose a threat to other species. You and your older children can volunteer to hand pull water chestnut with staff from Northfield Mountain and the Connecticut River Watershed Council. This educational volunteer opportunity will also involve paddling on the river. Meet at the Barton Cove Canoe and Kayak Rental Area. Register by calling 1-800-859-2960. Gill, MA. (VOLUNTEER)
Nature is the original classroom, for youth and adults. The natural landscape of Western Massachusetts is itself a resource for learning about biology, ecology, and environmental studies. Engaging in that landscape opens up a world of creative free play, service-based learning, and even artistic and spiritual appreciation.
[Photo credit: (cc) Sienna Wildfield]