Aspetuck Land Trust believes that there are numerous benefits derived from outdoor play in a natural setting; fresh air, exercise, and imaginative play to name a few. We also believe that getting our children outdoors helps our community in many ways including building appreciation and support for open space. Children need open space and the outdoors now more than ever. Click here to read a moving account of why it’s so important for kids to spend time outdoors. To meet this need Aspetuck Land Trust has created a Children's Hike Series (aka Short Hikes for Short People), built the area's first Natural Playground, and have commissioned a local nature loving mom to write reviews of our nature preserves called “Exploring with Kids” to make it easier for you to hike our preserves with your children. In the Spring of 2015 with support from the William C. Bullitt Foundation we are starting a Jr. Ranger Program and Family Play Dates at the Natural Playground. Finally, we have included some Backyard Nature Activities tips. 10 ways to get your kids outside in nature and why it matters.
Children's Hike Series (aka Short Hikes for Short People)
This series of hikes for children ages 4-10 to provide great family experiences in nature. These hikes will help introduce parents and their children to our preserves and provide an opportunity for guided play and exploration together. Please click here to see our Upcoming Children's Hikes and we look forward to seeing you on the trails!
The Land Trust has built the areas first hands-on natural playground at our Leonard Schine Arboretum in Westport! Officially opened in 2010 the playground, designed for children ages 3-7 and built with natural materials found on the preserve, was inspired by a similar playground at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. It comprises approximately 10,000 square feet in a meadow and has areas for fort building, digging, tea-parties, tower-climbing, trail-walking, stick-stacking, nature collages and more! There is even an elvin village where younger visitors can play with pine cone dolls, honing both their imaginations and their fine motor skills. This is a great place to meet for a play date or to bring the grand children! For more information about the playground, click here. For preserve information and a detailed map, click here.
Preserve Exploration with Kids
Follow a family on an exploration of the Land Trust's most family friendly preserves! Join Sara, her husband and son Avery as they report on their journeys through many of our preserves. We hope they will inspire you to explore with your children!
ALT Junior Rangers
Does your child want to become an ALT Junior Ranger? Children in grades 1 - 5 are invited to join the Aspetuck Land Trust Junior Ranger program. ALT Junior Rangers explore and enjoy adventures at a variety of ALT preserves. To become an ALT Junior Ranger, children simply complete a booklet of activities ranging from hiking to leaf identification. It’s a great self-guided program that you can do with your children while exploring our local nature preserves. Upon completion of the booklet, ALT Junior Rangers will be presented with a Certificate of Accomplishment and an ALT Junior Ranger patch at a special ceremony. To receive an ALT Junior Ranger Booklet, click here for more information.
Starting Saturday April 18 at 8 am and continuing thereafter, families with children are invited to attend the free “Family Playdates Program” at The Natural Playground located at the Schine Preserve, 1 Glendinning Place off Route 57 in Westport.
The playground has areas for tower climbing, fort building, trail walking, nature collages, stick stacking, pine cone doll play and other activity. The Natural Playground appeals to preschool and elementary age children but families are welcome to bring all ages.
“This is a great opportunity for children to have some free play time in nature, for parents to enjoy some free coffee we will provide, for socializing and a sense of community. There are numerous benefits derived from outdoor play in a natural setting—fresh air, exercise, and imaginative play to name a few,” said David Brant, Executive Director, Aspetuck Land Trust. Click here for more information.
Backyard Nature Activities
The Land Trust works with educators to develop programs and ideas that encourage children to explore the outdoors. The list of activities includes great ideas for a Nature Scavenger Hunt, Leaf/Tree Identification, and a Natural Orchestra. Click here for the full list of ideas and activities and links to great sites for kids.