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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lakeview Nature Center in Oakbrook Terrace

Place: Lakeview Nature Center
Location: . 17 W 063 Hodges Rd in Oakbrook Terrace.
Type of Place: Nature center
Secret: There's a shallow little creek that the kids enjoyed splashing around in. Sometimes we find snail shells there!
Appropriate ages: everyone
Cost: Free!

I found out about Lakeview Nature Center last summer, through the Passport To Adventure program. Its a great little nature center, with tons of ammenities that make it possible to spend an entire long summer day there!
During the summer, Lakeview has a weekly program called Wild Wednesdays. It starts out with a very nice, interactive storytime led by a volunteer at the nature center. Then, staff members give a presentation on a live animal. Kids get to view and touch the animal and learn interesting facts about it. Sometimes it is an animal that actually lives at the nature center, such as a frog or a chipmunk. Other times it is a more exotic animal brought in from somewhere else, such as a toucan! This past Wednesday the kids were introduced to centipedes and millipedes. And as it turns out, millipedes are not as creepy as I would have thought! (Centipedes, with their long feathery legs, still freak me out, though!)
Wild Wednesdays take place in rainy or sunny weather. This week it was rainy in the morning, so the event was inside the nature center. That was nice, because they have a great playroom, and the kids all played for a long time after the presentation! There are also many small animals, fish, insects and reptiles, on display in the nature center for kids to look at.
But on sunny days, there are even more festivities, such as lemonade and popcorn being sold, free fishing, and $3.00 paddle boat rides!
Last week, in order to get our passport stamps, we had to go on a hike/scavenger hunt. Since it was sunny by then, we hiked over to the creek, where the kids enjoyed wading around. I am not actually sure you are supposed to do this, but I couldn't see why not... there weren't any "No Swimming" signs posted, and the water only went up about halfway to the kids' knees anyways! I'm a pretty strong believer in giving kids the freedom to enjoy nature, the way I got hill to do when I was little. It seems like, often, these days people are like, "We want you kids to appreciate nature, so look at it... but do not touch it! Don't climb the tree, don't walk on the fallen branch, don't pick up the frog, don't stand on the rock, don't roll down the hill, and DON'T PUT YOUR FEET IN THE WATER!" To me, I want them to be able to do all that. And if you watch the slide show at the bottom of this post, you'll see how genuinely happy the kids ar e to be outside in nature... even though we could hear the sounds of the highway in the background!
Anyway. Lakeview also has a nature-themed playground! After getting our passports stamped and collecting our prizes for doing the hike  (which Little Bear, Rafael and Pufferfish all immediately lost) we headed to the playground They love the playground there, especially the rotating net. Its like a regular merry-go-round, but it is surrounded by a rope net that kids can climb on as they spin! What a thrill!
I had a lot of pictures this time, so I decided to put them into a slide show so you can see how much we enjoyed Lakeview Nature Center.


Christine said... [Reply to comment]

I also love letting the kids just go and enjoy nature! Luckily, so do their parents! The other day we were at the park (which floods pretty bad when it rains) and the kids were in the big puddle. E was even riding his bike through it. There was a lady there with her two girls that probably thought we were crazy. She was telling her girls that they couldn't do this or that because they would get dirty.

Nicki said... [Reply to comment]

Yep, we get lots of that kind of looks! A lot of people are really paranoid these days and want to keep their kids completely safe and protected from EVERYTHING at all times!

Chris said... [Reply to comment]

We love the Lakeview Nature Center. We've only gone to Wild Wednesday once this summer due to travelling, but maybe we'll see you there in a few weeks!

Nicki said... [Reply to comment]

@Chris We're going today to see the snake! And next week its a giant turtle!

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