Remove the guesswork, keep the wonder
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center
3609 Spring Road, Oak Brook
Teaching kids about nature seems easy, right? Just take them outside and point out trees and wildlife. But our urban environment often gets in the way. (Forget for the moment that many of us don’t know the difference between a sparrow and a wren.)
Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center takes much of the guesswork, but none of the wonder, out of learning.
Situated on a bend in Salt Creek, at 3609 Spring Road in Oak Brook, the center is a treasure trove for nature lovers and novices. Best of all, you only need to bring comfortable shoes. The volunteers at the Education Center will provide you with everything else, all at no charge.
Upon entering the center, you’ll exchange your car keys for a backpack, which kids can fill with the tools they’ll need—a magnifying glass, bug viewer, paper and crayons, binoculars and a compass. You can pick and choose the tools that work best for your family.
Then simply set out and explore some or all of the 2.5 miles of multipurpose trails that wind around Salt Creek. If you pick up a Bingo Game from the Education Center, your kids can search for specific items, like birds and spider webs, but if you make your way slowly and quietly, you may come across deer, frogs or even beavers. Take or draw pictures of what you find. A camera is one thing you want to carry as photo opportunities pop up everywhere.
You can use those pictures when you return to the Education Center to identify birds or animal tracks you saw. The center provides a wonderful indoor respite. Young kids love the giant nest into which they can climb and play with puppets. Have them create their own animal tracks while you learn together to identify them. Or simply take advantage of the view down the creek through mounted telescopes and binoculars.