Gardens & Conservatory

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Kids + garden adventures = Summer learning + fun

By Tom Brinda and Lynn Kirk, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Published August 2008 in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Looking for something meaningful to do with your kids or grandkids? Check out the Children’s Garden! Located at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, this two-acre area brims with ever-changing opportunities for children and families to enjoy nature exploration, outdoor adventure and interactive fun. And if you don’t know the difference between a dandelion and a dianthus, don’t worry. Helpful handouts, interpretive signage and passionate educators make learning a joy – at every age.

What’s there to do?
The Children’s Garden’s fun-filled experiences, which often link to the Standards of Learning (SOL), teach youngsters about their connections to nature, ecology and stewardship. Following are a sampling of activities, classes and events currently on tap.
1. Climb a 100-year-old mulberry tree.
2. Look for “wigglers” in a worm condominium.
3. Make a special memory at Families After 5 on Tuesday nights.
4. Pick beans, pull carrots or harvest squash.
5. Check out an Investigation Station or explore the Adventure Pathway.
6. Earn a prize with a Kid Quest nature hunt.
7. At Good Green Fun, learn about the 4 R’s: reduce, recycle, reuse, refuse.
8. Wear your swimsuit and cool off at Water Play.
9. Look for Try It and Fast Fact signs.
10. Make mud pies (it’s okay to get dirty!).
11. Sign up for a Saturday Family Workshop about plants.
12. Rock with musical vibes of Jammin’.
13. Dance the flight of a honey bee.
14. Visit the Garden Cart or try Drop In and Dig Wednesdays.
15. Water veggies, pick off insects or pull weeds in the Farm Garden.
16. Learn side-by-side with a Children’s Garden educator or Play Pal volunteer.
17. Learn the names of flowers and plants.
18. Travel around the world in our International Village.
19. Gather nature’s materials and transform them into art.
20. Exercise your imagination at the new Garden Keeper’s Cottage.
21. Dig around in Sand Play.
22. See the world from above in the CWD Kids Tree House.
23. Explore Weird and Contrasting Plants, including Venus flytraps!
24. Try your skill with a hula hoop or beat your dad in a game of checkers
25. Report the weather using meteorological symbols.
26. See what’s in the rain barrel for water conservation.
27. Take your photo in front of towering sunflowers.
28. Read about nature, plants and animals during the Green Hour.
29. Look for bugs, chipmunks and turtles.
30. Celebrate your birthday at a Garden Party.

Offerings vary daily and advance registration and fees may be required, so log on www.lewisginter.org for specific information, schedules and admission. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, located at 1800 Lakeside Ave., is open daily during the summer.

What do kids say?
“Children’s Garden reporters,” ages preschool through second grade, recorded or dictated the following observations during recent visits.
• “Of course I did a good job planting – I’m an artist.”
• “I didn’t even imagine that there was so much happening in such a little flower.”
• “Harvesting these (three) vegetables sure was a lot of work!”
• “Plants really do make everything.”
• “You know, I think gardening should be my hobby when I grow up.”