Murphy Dome Diaries

A journalist observes life in the far north.

Preschool Nature Discovery Program

Lucky showing off her picture of a birch tree. Her taste in art leans toward the abstract.

Lucky goes to “nature class” once a month. I call it that because if I told my three-year-old that she was going to the Preschool Nature Discovery Program, I think her eyes would glaze over.

It’s a monthly program for young naturalists ages 3-6 held at the Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. For a $3 donation, children make a craft, hear a story and take a hike.

I signed up Lucky because the refuge is one of my favorite places in Fairbanks and I thought it would be fun.

The indoor space was cramped for the number of people—more than a dozen—and the story reader wasn’t as engaging as those who read for the preschool programs at the public library. But the crafts were clever and easy and a hike around the refuge is well worth a visit to Creamer’s Field.

We arrived to Lucky’s first class a few minute late but no one scolded us. We took off our coats and slipped into an available chair. The meeting room is quite small. The moms and their children packed around three folding tables that hugged the perimeter of the room. There was no obvious place to put our coats so I tossed them on top of some tables folded on their side against the wall.

The theme of the day’s program was trees and one of the crafts involved placing paper on the top of plastic cutouts of leaves and coloring over the paper with crayons. The leaf cutouts provided an easy way for a small child to make a pretty picture. The other craft was making a birch tree with construction paper, paint and glue.

Next was the story. Slate was fussy so I had to try and nurse him at the table. It was difficult because there was not enough room for me to back up my chair. I forgot to grab a scarf to cover myself so I wasn’t as modest as I like. The lady beside me turned her back to me. The teacher was kind and helped with Jade.

It was icy outside and the teacher made it clear that the walk was optional. My friend and I skipped the guided walk, opting to lead our children on our own walk. We pushed the babies in buggies while the big kids ran ahead of us.

Before I left, I grabbed a handout with suggested activities for children. One of the suggestions is to actually go out and tell your kid to hug a tree.

I am thinking about calling the class “treehugger class” instead of “nature class.”

The theme next month is ponds.

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This entry was posted on April 15, 2011 by .
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