September 3, 2012

Two Days, Two Nature Play Areas

I tested out two natural play areas in the Twin Cities area this weekend: One at Tamarack Nature Center near White Bear Lake, MN, and the other at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum near Chanhassen, MN.

Both places were a lot of fun and involved great activities for kids.

Walking up to the Tamarack Nature Center, visitors are greeted by a giant frog made from recycled materials (tent canvas, plastic bottles, tools, etc.).

Inside the nature center is a room with various animal furs, bones, and shells available for touching and exploring.

There's also a bee hive,

and some reptiles to look at.

Outside, the play area is a mix of natural landscaping and play structures.

My favorite spots were a shallow, sandy pool, and a small stream.

For how beautiful a day it was, it wasn't too busy at the play area.

Another fun spot was an area with rocks to crawl over, on top of, and through.

Lastly, we visited a section with big sticks and fallen tree trunks for building and climbing. 

We missed seeing the garden because we grew too hungry and wanted lunch. Maybe next time I can make it over to that part.

The arboretum natural play area was a little different from the other one. 

It was separated into a preschool area and a toddler area. There was a garden to explore, and behind the garden was a big oak tree with various wooden forts and things to play in. 

I was first attracted to a fun play house made of wood. Inside the play house was a broom, pieces of wood, sticks, pine cones, and paintbrushes (for painting with water).

I moved on to a canoe made from tree trunks, where I patched up a few spots with paint before getting in and paddling.

My favorite spot again was the area with water and sand. I learned about making pathways for the water with tubes and troughs. 

I probably could have played in the sand for the rest of the day, but after a while Mom wanted to move on to the garden. Mom and Dad watched hummingbirds (I noticed them, too)...

...while I found something even better than sand and water: Mud!

After a few slips and trips and stains on my shorts, I was done playing in the mud and ready to move on to checking out the forts. This area will probably be a little more fun for me in a couple years.

I had a lot of fun this weekend, and I played hard. Mom wishes there were more play areas like these nearby. 

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