We now live just a few miles from a nature preserve. We’ve been a few times just to explore and play and once we met up with friends to play. I kept forgetting about the $3 classes they hold every week for three to six year olds (and I get a bit anxious about new places and people sometimes). We finally made it and Wallace had a blast. The instructor was wonderful and managed the group without being overbearing.
When she first called them into a circle, Wallace plopped himself down within arm’s reach of her. He knew where I was but wanted to be where the action was. He also really likes charming whoever is in charge. First, she brought out her tool box and started talking about different tools and how some animals have parts of their bodies that they use like tools. Next, they all got bowls and water and pipettes to pretend to be mosquitos, bees, and elephants sucking up water.
After that, she showed them a book of animals and had a glove puppet with different alaskan animals. Everyone got a booklet of Alaskan animals and stickers of the tools they relate to. This was a bit harder for the three year olds but my friend’s six year old was a pro. I stepped in and helped the birthday buddies while Jen changed a diaper.
The instructor then talked to them about leather work and handed out practice leather, tools, boards, and mallets. I was a bit skeptical that this crowd could manage the activity, but they all seemed to do great. I held the leather tools for Wallace so my knuckles did get a bit of a beating.
Finally, everyone got a clipboard and a crayon and we headed out for a scavenger hunt. I really like that she empowered the kids to get the materials themselves, gave ground rules, and then expected the kids to all make it happen. And they did! The hike was a bit confusing for Wallace but he caught on. There were laminated cards with a picture of an animal on one side and a tool on the other. It was mostly mayhem but Wallace understood some of it and had fun running around outside with kids.
And I got to hold the baby!
Between this, gymnastics, and story time, I think Wallace will do just fine for a few months. He needs the stimulation and socialization, but at the same time fatigues very easily and was exhausted and wired the rest of the day.