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'Take a Child Outside' week connects families to nature-based play

What do the following activities have in common: gazing at the stars, taking a hike and meeting animals on the farm? They are all ways to connect with your children in the great outdoors.

As the St. Charles Park District celebrates the nationally recognized week, Take a Child Outside (TACO), from Sept. 21-29, families are encouraged to participate in the line-up of nature-based activities to engage the senses, slow down and reap the benefits of playing outside.

New this year is Scopes in the City, presented by Adler Planetarium astronomers, at Hickory Knolls from 7:30-9 p.m. Sept. 21. This free event is for all ages to learn from experienced astronomers what is viewable that night and in the fall season. Observation targets on Sept. 21 will include Jupiter and Saturn in the southern/southwestern sky. Adler astronomers and volunteers will bring telescopes to share but feel free to bring you own. Please register.

Also new this year at Hickory Knolls is a Walking TACO Hike from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Sept. 29. Inside the Discovery Center, you’ll assembly your taco; then, take it with you as you stroll through the natural area. Naturalists will guide families along the trail during this casual, short hike.

“It’s a fun way to have a picnic outside,” said Laura McCoy, Hickory Knolls Nature programs supervisor. “It shows families how easy you can fit in time outside, even during a busy day.”

Dessert will be provided after the hike. In case of inclimate weather, the event will move instead, but instead of a hike, there will be critter visits.

The cost is $10 for the residents and $15 for nonresidents. Registration is required.

Farm Frolic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 22 is another way to take advantage of the fall season while participating in festive activities at Primrose Farm. Surrounded by 100 plus acres of rural farmland on this 1930s working diary farm, you can witness historic demonstrations; cuddle up on a tractor-drawn wagon ride; watch your children ride ponies and paint pumpkins; race through a straw maze, meet and greet animals and much more.

Admission is $6 for ages 3 and older and free for ages 2 and under.

Let your child’s imagination be their guide to outdoor fun during Come Play With Me at the Hideout, Hickory Knoll’s nature play area. Balance on tree stumps, make a mud pie or build roads in the digging area, but that’s only the beginning; the possibilities are endless. The Hideout is open during normal hours, but from 2-5 p.m. Sept. 29, staff will be onsite to engage children in different activities in the play area. This event is free.

If you want a hands-on experience to give back to the community and help preserve the natural areas, sign up for National Public Lands Day. Volunteers are encouraged to come out from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 28 to lend a hand in collecting native plant seeds in the Hickory Knolls Natural Area. Call 630-513-4399 for more information.

For more information or to register, visit

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