West Ridge Nature Preserve, Park Advisory Council (PAC)

Chicago Park District

 Family Nature Days May Shift to One Big Celebration in Late Spring or Early Summer

 

The PAC has sponsored three to six Family Nature Days each season for the last three years. While they have been well attended and enthusiastically received, it may be time for a change.


We are considering a large opening event at the beginning of next year's good weather season as well as smaller programs in the improved Nature Play Area. Also under consideration is an informational sharing for adults.


In the meantime, here is a description of the the activities and purpose of Family Nature Days, followed by a photo gallery highlighting some of the events over the last several years. 

At Family Nature Day you can count on crafts, face painting, a specimen table, I Spy, and monitoring information. In addition, activities often include music, creative movement, writing, guided walks, and listening and touching experiences. Our Nature Play Area and StoryWalk are permanent features.


The purpose of Family is to provide fun, engaging activities that will encourage children and adults to explore the preserve. In doing so, we want them to increase their understanding of our special wildlife and habitats. All of us have a stake in growing future stewards who will appreciate and protect natural areas.

 


PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS 


Butterflies, Dragonflies and Bees, Oh My!

How fun to see children darting about holding dragonflies that they made! And they darted about some more in the Nature Play Area, chasing bubbles with small butterfly nets.
Older children and adults used larger nets to capture insects, gently putting them into an observation container. Once identified, the insects were safely released.
The beekeeping exhibit, including live bees, proved to be a real highlight. Visitors continually gathered around the table throughout the event as the beekeeper explained and demonstrated the process of making honey.
Besides the dragonfly craft, creative activities included a bee making craft, imaginative dance, observational drawing and poetry writing. The budding poets got to keep a special journal for writing and drawing.

In addition, volunteers presented educational activities from the Peggy Notebaert Butterfly Trunk, including samples of real butterflies, models of the butterfly life cycle, puppets depicting metamorphosis, field guides and numerous children’s books.

Other educational options included odonate activities by the Backyard Nature Center, a monitoring update from our Citizen Science Center and binocular tips by the pond where dragonflies were spotted.


All in all, a really fun and educational day!

Amphibians, Reptiles, and Pond Life

A constant stream of families walked through our front gates throughout our June Family Nature Day event. They plunged right into activities related to amphibians, reptiles and the aquatic environment.
And plunge they did. An aquatic station enabled visitors to examine live turtles, collect pond samples to observe through a microscope (many tiny creatures), and search for above water pond life through a spotting scope.

Also, thanks to the Jr. Herpetologists, live snakes were on display – some quite large. Brave children touched the snakes and even draped them around their necks!


Rounding out the day’s activities were face painting, crafts (paper bag frog puppets and paper bowl turtles), creative writing, feed the frog and other games, plastic pond fishing, binocular tips, aquatic touch and feel, and citizen scientist information.

Eighteen dedicated volunteers helped organize, set up and run the July Family Nature Day event. And of course, there is always the clean up afterwards. Kudos to all our volunteers!

All About Birds

On a lovely, but breezy spring Sunday, approximately 250 people helped kick off the first Family Nature Day of the season at the preserve. 

Features included feathered paper plate birds, bird nesting bowls, bread bird feeders, bird face painting, bird finger puppets, bird observation station, bird artifacts and more.  "Bird" is the operating word here. 

There also was live music from Coalesce and the bluegrass band, From the Start. Poetry writing and nature-based creative movement rounded out the activities.