Fall 2016: What to Know Before You Go

We are so excited for our Wednesday, 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.

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! 

Check out the theme for each class.

Each week will investigate a different animal. Where does that animal live? What does it eat? How does it spend most of its time? We’ll learn about animals both big and small! We like to mix it up by focusing on sounds, colors, textures, shapes and more! We will end class each week by reading a related story, having a cool animal experience, or going on a nature walk. An animal experience can mean getting to meet and possibly touch an animal or watching some fun enrichment be given out to an animal that lives in the building we’re in that week. Check out the right side of the blog to see what else we’ll be exploring this fall!

Dress for a mess. 

Playing with natural materials sometimes means getting dirty, be it digging in the dirt, painting with spices, or building a beaver lodge out of clay.  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.

Dress for the weather.

What would a nature play program be if it didn’t include a little time IN nature? We try to set as many stations up outside as we can when the weather allows. We won’t go out when it’s not safe, but we like to take any opportunity to get outside! Occasionally, we will end class with an outdoor nature walk, rain or shine.


Enjoy this special time with your child.

LEAP is centered on 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. We’d like everyone to unplug for the hour that you’re at LEAP each week and ask that you keep phone use to a minimum during class. Explore the fun materials and the animals surrounding you, and share in your child's sense of wonder, seeing the world through their eyes.

Join the LEAP dialogue!

Feel free to chat with staff and fellow participants at LEAP, and follow this blog to learn more about nature and child-directed play, share your ideas and feedback, and get inspired to extend your outdoor and nature play experiences beyond the class. Nothing makes us happier than hearing about how you incorporate what we’ve done at LEAP together into your life at home! 

Subscribe to this blog by clicking on the top right part of the page.

Throughout the series, we will share photos, discuss nature play and its benefits, give you some activity how-to's, and hopefully inspire you to extend your nature play experiences beyond LEAP class! 

We can't wait to meet you!

--Emily Van Laan & the Lincoln Park Zoo LEAP team