We are so excited for our Thursday and Saturday LEAP sessions to start this week, and we hope you are, too! Before you get here, read on to find out what to expect at LEAP, and what we're expecting of you and/or the caregiver attending with your child.
1. Let your child lead the way. Most of the class will consist of free play among 6-8 different stations. Some kids might hang out at the same station for half the class filling and emptying buckets of beans, while others may run around and continuously sample each station. Watch what your child is drawn to, and then join in!
2. Check out the animal of the day. Each week will be themed around a different animal, so the stations may connect with that animal's habitat, diet, adaptations or behaviors. Some animals-of-the-day will be animals on exhibit during class, and others we will meet up close at the end of the class. Here are the first three animal themes:
Week 1: Beaver
Week 2: Toad
Week 3: Owl
3. Dress for a mess. . . and for the weather. Playing with natural materials sometimes means getting dirty, be it spice painting, holding worms, or making vegetable prints, but that's all part of the fun! If you and your child are dressed for a bit of paint and dirt, then you can dig right into the activities and not worry about the clothes. During the September and October sessions at the Pritzker Family Children's Zoo, some stations will be held outside, so prepare for the weather and you won't have to miss out on any of the outdoor fun either.
4. Enjoy this special time with your child. LEAP is centered around nature play- playing in and around nature as well as with natural materials- so it's a great opportunity to take a break from technology, explore the fun materials and the animals surrounding you, and share in your child's sense of wonder.
5. Join the LEAP dialogue! Feel free to chat with staff and fellow participants at LEAP, and follow this blog to learn more about nature play, share your ideas and feedback, and get inspired to extend your outdoor and nature play experiences beyond the class.