Welcome to April, the month of mud season, spring break, warmer weather and Earth Day! Creatures big and small begin to stretch and prepare for the busy spring season. Salamanders, frogs and toads wake up from their long winter rest, and the forest fills with the sound of peepers in the trees.
Children pull on their rain boots and splash in the mud, their laughter and the squishing sound of dirt and water resonating through windows cracked open for fresh air. Above, the skies fill as feathered friends return to the Northeast, migrating home after a winter in warmer areas.
This is a month of rain and of reawakening, and the sounds, sights and smells are a wonderful chance to reconnect with the beauty of the world around us.
For young children, this exploration of the natural world through their five senses is an important developmental opportunity. April is also the Month of the Young Child. This nationally recognized campaign was spearheaded by the National Association for the Education of Young Children in 1971 and is an opportunity to focus on the needs of young children and to recognize the early childhood services that meet those needs.
Scientific studies continue to demonstrate that time outside, interacting with the natural world, is critical to the healthy development of young brains. Outdoor programs for kids are an incredibly important service that helps our young citizens develop and grow.
At The Nature Museum, we asked local families: “What is your favorite way to connect with the kids in your life outside in the spring?” Parents, guardians, aunts, uncles, teachers and friends wrote back with a wide variety of ways to enjoy the beauty of our landscape in spring with young explorers:
“We take a walk in the woods, following animal prints in the soft ground, and splashing in puddles.”
“My kid loves exploring swimming holes and noticing the seasonal changes in the water.”
“I like to take nature walks with my 5-year-old. We pick up rocks to paint and collect interesting objects for fairy house making.”
These family memories are more than fun excursions into the fields and forests that surround us. When we encourage our young children to be curious, to explore, to touch and to ask “why?” about the world around them, we offer opportunities for brain development, for confidence and skill building and for a connection with nature.
In an age of touch screens and social media, so many of our young citizens are discovering their identities in a digital world. By encouraging and nourishing a strong connection to the physical, living, breathing planet around them, we help our children develop healthy and happy habits.
What better time to begin this nourishing connection to nature than in honor of Earth Day? In celebration of Earth Day, of the coming spring weather and of the Month of the Young Child, The Nature Museum, at 186 Townshend Road in Grafton, Vt., is offering five days of interactive environmental programs over spring break!
In addition to The Nature Museum’s regular visiting hours, we invite you to join our environmental educators every day from Tuesday, April 17, to Saturday, April 21, for nature programs that will be fun for all ages. Saturday will include a special Abenaki and Nature program in honor of Earth Day. Guided programs include “Eagles, Hawks, & Owls: Predators of the Sky” and “Boom! Flash! Recipes for Thunderstorms.”
After the programs, we invite you to explore the museum – crawl through an underground bear den, dig for fossils and dress up as your favorite wild creature. Get outside with a trail map, try out a nature exploration kit or go on a scavenger hunt with your family.
We believe that everybody deserves the opportunity to learn, enjoy and explore their wild side. Therefore, we strive to keep our costs low: Admission to our spring break programs, and to the museum itself, is by donation. Visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, from Tuesday, April 17, to Saturday, April 21.
Guided nature programs begin at 11 a.m., and the Earth Day Party will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 21. The Nature Museum will also extend open hours to include Thursday and Friday for the entire month of April.
Oh, and did I mention that there will be Earth Day Cake?
Our programs are designed to help local families get outside and learn about the landscape, but an adventure is always waiting just outside your own front door. I encourage you to take this muddy, messy, beautiful season as an opportunity to go outdoors with your family and make memories your family will treasure for years to come.