WEB EXTRA: Getting Out There --
The following local resources can help spark your child’s interest in the natural world:
Zoomazium at Woodland Park Zoo, Phinney Ave. N. and N. 50th St.: This indoor, nature-themed play space (primarily for ages birth to 8) encourages ongoing contacts with nature through the Nature Exchange. Bring in, write about and/or draw something that you find in nature and receive points toward cool items from the Zoomazium’s collection, including shells, rocks, fossils or petrified wood. 206-684-4800; www.zoo.org.
Pacific Science Center, Seattle Center, 2nd Ave. N. and Denny Way, and Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center, 1625 118th Ave. S.E. Bellevue: Besides nature-themed exhibits and IMAX films a the main location, kids can explore the natural world in school year and summer programs and camps. Environmental education, including mud-splashing and creature-collecting, is emphasized at the Mercer Slough location. 206-443-206-443-2925, www.pacsci.org.
The Burke Museum, University of Washington Campus, 17th Ave. N.E. and N.E. 45th St.: “The Burke” is the coolest place to see fossils and bones and all kinds of odd collections, as well as an ethnobotanical garden. Family events include Dinosaur Day, Bug Blast and Learning from Archeology. Summer programs include “Dr. Mossbreath’s Natural History Mystery” and “Extreme Earth: The Science behind Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Tsunamis and More,” for middle-schoolers. 206-543-5590; www.washington.edu/burkemuseum.
Seattle Aquarium, 1483 Alaskan Way, Seattle waterfront: Many of the aquarium’s exhibits invite kids to continue exploring beaches on their own. Short-term summer classes and programs are geared to all ages from toddlers to teens. The Aquarium is open as usual during remodeling, except for a closure planned for June 21. 206-386-4300; www.seattleaquarium.org.
Camp Long, 5200 35th Ave. S.W., West Seattle: Seattle Parks and Recreation operates this urban retreat, where families can learn about nocturnal creatures around a campfire, stay the night in a rustic cabin, enjoy and pancake breakfast and go for a nature-exploration hike with a naturalist – you may learn to eat some interesting plants. 206-684-7434; www.seattle.gov/parks.
Environmental Education, Seattle Parks and Recreation: The department offers year-round programs, nature classes and beach walks primarily at Seward Park, Lake Washington Boulevard S. near S. Orcas Street in Rainier Beach; Carkeek Park and its Environmental Learning Center, 950 N.W. Carkeek Park Road in northwest Seattle; and Discovery Park on W. Government Way in Magnolia. All of these parks are also great to explore on your own. 206-386-4236; www.seattle.gov/parks.
Washington Park Arboretum, north entrance near the SR 520 exit to Lake Washington Boulevard, south exit at E. Madison Street: Explore this regional treasure and the neighboring Foster Island wetland trail on your own or rent an explorer pack from the Graham Visitor Center, with field guides, scavenger hunts, magnifying glasses and activity ideas. Summer outdoor programs and camps are offered for Grades K-6. 206-543-8801; www.depts.washington.edu/wpa.
REI: The six Western Washington REI stores provide recommendations on a few nearby hikes for kids and families, along with a list of essentials to take along. The Passport for Kids summer program allows children to earn prizes for taking hikes and filling in a free journal. Free PEAK (Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids) presentations are available in the stores or off-site. Seattle flagship store, 206-223-1944; www.rei.com.
YMCA Camp Orkila, Orcas Island: The granddaddy of local outdoor camps turned 100 last year. It’s operated by the YMCA of Greater Seattle and offers resident camps, teen expeditions, family camp weekends, marine science and outdoor environmental education on a private beach surrounded by forest. The Y also includes outdoor activities and skills in its urban day camps and at Camp Colman, west of Gig Harbor. 206-382-5001; www.seattleymca.org.
IslandWood, 4450 Blakely Ave. N.E., Bainbridge Island: The outdoor learning center opened five years ago, offering environmental education to older elementary school students. The center also provides half- and full-day camps, overnight camps and family camps on topics ranging from bugs and creatures to forests, water wonders and wilderness survival. 206-855-4300; www.islandwood.org.
On the Web:
www.GreenHour.com – This new Web site from the National Wildlife Foundation features a monthly activity and related nature activities to do with kids. Find more information on the main National Wildlife Foundation site at www.nwf.org/kids.
www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs - The United States Forest Service site for the local Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has information on trails, permits and recreational opportunities. Look for information on the new More Kids in the Woods pilot program later this summer.
www.parks.wa.gov - Find descriptions, maps and features on 120 state parks, as well as information on camping and boating reservations and fees.
www.cnaturenet.org - The Web site of the new Children & Nature Network provides background on No Child Left Inside initiatives around the country, along with links to research studies.
www.adventuresofriley.com – This site has games and activities about nature, especially animals and exotic creatures, based on the Adventures of Riley books by local author/photographer Amanda Lumry.
©2007 Caliope Publishing Company
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