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Columns

Wild Wednesdays with the St. Charles Park District explore science through play-based learning

The St. Charles Park District's "Wild Wednesdays" program offers young children a chance to explore science with fun, hands-on activities.
The St. Charles Park District's "Wild Wednesdays" program offers young children a chance to explore science with fun, hands-on activities.

Give your little one the opportunity to become a scientist, a paleontologist or an astronaut during Wild Wednesdays this winter at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center.

With monthly themes from December through March, children’s imaginations will take over as they learn about wildlife, ice and snow, dinosaurs and space. Each month promises a fun, play-based learning experience, through science experiments, crafts and other hands-on activities.

All sessions meet from 9:30-10:15 a.m. and are for children ages 2-6. Each session has options for guided or self-guided activities. All Wild Wednesdays meet inside.

“Wild Wednesdays are perfect for younger kids to become comfortable playing with each other, socializing and exploring,” said Laura McCoy, nature programs supervisor. “We make each session a fun, learning experience, sneaking science into each lesson through play-based activities.”

During Winter Wildlife from Dec. 4-18, children will become animal explorers investigating the habits and characteristics of different critters each week, including reptiles, amphibians, insects and mammals. They will explore hibernation through play, crafts and hands-on activities. McCoy also encourages parents to continue the fun at home, providing information on how to explore in their own backyard.

The fun will continue in the new year with even more themes.

January’s Ice and Snow Adventures will incorporate physics, concepts such as melting, as well as animals and their adaptations. Through various activities, children will look at snow in a whole new light. They’ll touch and feel snow in sensory stations, conduct experiments and make toys.

“They’ll be playing with snow in a different way than they’re used to,” McCoy said. “They won’t even know they’re learning about scientific concepts, because they’re having so much fun.”

February’s theme, Fantastic Fossils and Dinos, will provide an opportunity to play “paleontologist,” exploring reptiles and fossils to learn about dinosaurs.

“This program will give a different spin on dinosaurs, making connections between dinosaurs and what’s in their backyard,” McCoy said. “Activities will balance make-believe with science.”

Make-believe will also meet science during the last Wild Wednesdays winter session in March. Children will blast off to space in Mission to the Moon, as they become astronauts exploring planets, stars, friendly aliens and rocket ships, as well as meeting animals on Earth.

The fee for each Wild Wednesday monthly theme is $30 for residents and $45 for nonresidents. To register, visit www.stcparks.org. For more information, call Laura McCoy at 630-513-4393.

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