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Audubon sets Nature Lab for young children

On Thursday and Friday mornings at Audubon Community Nature Center’s Nature Lab, 4- and 5-year-olds can build skills that will prepare them for their future education.

The Nature Lab, a new program at Audubon Community Nature Center on Thursdays and Fridays from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., gives 4- and 5-year-olds a variety of activities that build skills in the outdoors.

Children who have an older sibling in The Outdoor Classroom can be dropped off earlier.

During each class, educators provide a host of supplies and activities that are the building blocks for engineering, science, art, physics and math skills.

The Nature Lab provides a safe place for children to engage in the most important work of childhood: building, climbing, jumping, balancing, socializing, problem solving, making mud pies, or rolling down hills. With nature as their classroom, in all but the most inclement weather children create, manipulate materials, explore, and experiment as they learn about the natural world around them. Guided mini-lessons help students get ready for classroom settings, learn routines, and develop school-readiness skills.

The health benefits of playing outdoors are widely recognized. In the open space of the outdoors, children participate in a mix of guided and self-chosen activities.

Self-chosen activities, whether group or solitary work, develop a number of early childhood skills and benchmarks such as fine motor skills, full-body movement, balance, core muscle development, risk assessment, and socialization.

Students need to bring a snack, water bottle, and a face covering that will not be required when students have enough distance between them outdoors while playing.

The daily fee is $24. Nature Center members receive a 25% discount. Enrollment is limited. Paid reservations are required two days prior to the program date by calling 569-2345 during business hours or by going to AudubonCNC.org and clicking through “Upcoming Programs.”

Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren.

The first floor of the Nature Center building, including the Blue Heron Gift Shop, is open to the public Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Because not all of the building will be accessible, admission is by donation only.

Visitors can attend the 600-acre nature preserve from dawn to dusk daily. While practicing safe social distancing measures, hike, snowshoe, or cross country ski the six miles of trails and view Liberty, Audubon’s non-releasable Bald Eagle.

To learn more about Audubon and its programs, call 569-2345 during business hours, visit AudubonCNC.org, or find Audubon Community Nature Center on Facebook.

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