Tag - maplewood nature center

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Nature Playgrounds in the Twin Cities – Get Back to Green
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Maple Syruping with Kids in the Twin Cities
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Free Family Weekend Events for January 2-3, 2016

Nature Playgrounds in the Twin Cities – Get Back to Green

Nature Playgrounds are a growing trend for good reason; scientists keep finding connections between nature to child development and well-being.

nature playgrounds
It used to be, according to my children, that in order for a park to be authentic, it needed at least a slide and a set of swings. I was less enthusiastic about taking them to places like state parks simply because I felt I’d have to go the extra mile to “prove” that playing and exploring in a natural environment could be just as fun as clambering around a commercially manufactured jungle gym. Don’t get me wrong – the local playgrounds can be a lot of fun, too. And some are really inventive! But I have to say that I get a deeper satisfaction from watching them play in a more natural setting: digging, figuring out how to climb that tree, following paths, building forts. They become immersed in tossing rocks into the water, scouting frogs, collecting wildflowers. They also gradually forget that “playing at the park” requires a plastic treehouse.

So here’s what I find really cool: incorporating natural elements into new playground designs seems to be the trend. More places are popping up where kids get the opportunity to interact with the landscape and, perhaps, develop a greater appreciation for it. Here are seven places I’ve discovered that have those goals in mind:

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Maple Syruping with Kids in the Twin Cities

March is maple syrup month in Minnesota, and with an abundance of nature centers around the Twin Cities, we have ample opportunities to learn about and participate in the maple syruping process. Maple syrup events usually contain one or more of the following activities: tapping the maple trees, collecting the sap, boiling it into syrup, and the best part — according to my kids, anyway — a sample of the finished product.

Click through for a list of upcoming maple syrup events across the Twin Cities Metro. Read More

Free Family Weekend Events for January 2-3, 2016

Winter is finally here! Get out and embrace it with these four family fun ideas, or use our Family Fun Calendar for more ideas on getting out and about this weekend.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 2

Free First Saturday: Wintertime Escape
@ Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis

Time: 10am-3pm
Details: Admission is free for all every first Saturday of the month and the galleries abound with arty activities for kids of any age. This month’s theme, Wintertime Escape, will warm you up with an all-day dance party.

Snowflake Wonders
@ Maplewood Nature Center, 2659 E 7th St, St Paul

Time: 1-3pm
Details: Design beautiful snowflakes for your windows. Learn how snowflakes are formed, and peer at preserved snowflake crystals up close on the microcam. Nature Center exhibits and trails will be open for self-guided activities.

SATURDAY & SUNDAY, JANUARY 3

Free Admission to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska

Time: Daily 8am-4pm through January 31, 2016
Details: Explore the winter season at the Arboretum free of charge! Play outside, or warm up indoors by taking a stroll through the “please touch” greenhouse and playing with the kid-friendly exhibits in the Marion Andrus Learning Center. Drop into the Plant-Maker Studio weekends between noon and 4pm — this weekend’s theme is “Evergreen Wonders” and will keep kids busy crafting with branches and pine cones.

Wells Fargo WinterSkate
@ Rice Park, St. Paul (map here)

Time: Rink opens 11am daily through
Details: Bring your skates to the Wells Fargo WinterSkate rink in downtown St. Paul. Skating is free and the backdrop of Rice Park is beautiful. Skate rental is available for $4/pair. For more free skating opportunities, use our Skate the Twin Cities list to find your nearest free outdoor ice rink.

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