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 its so important for kids to spend time outdoors. To meet this need Aspetuck Land Trust has created, with the support of the William C. Bullitt Foundation, the A.L.T. Jr. Ranger Program which provides guided activities and rewards for you and your child to do together as you explore nature and our preserves (see details below). We also have 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. Finally, we have included some Backyard Nature Activities tips for you: 10 ways to get your kids outside in nature and why it matters. If you would like to read more on the subject we recommend the book "Born to Explore" by Richard Wiese, a real life explorer and resident of Weston. www.borntoexplore.net/richard-wiese.
Family Nature Trail
Aspetuck Land Trust has built a Family Nature Trail at the Leonard Schine Preserve in Westport! Officially open on June 11th, 2016, the interpretive nature trail is designed to introduce families to the many different features of Fairfield County's diverse landscape. The purpose of the trail is to engage kids hearts, minds and imaginations in nature. The trail incorporates a Natural Playground that Early Childhood Education Zone named one of the 50 Best Playgrounds in America. The Natural Playground incorporates areas for tower climbing, fort building, trail walking, nature collages, stick stacking, pine cone doll play and other activity. This is a great opportunity for children to have some free play time in nature and for parents to enjoy some quality family time in a supportive 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 of the Aspetuck Land Trust.
Natural Playground at Schine Preserve
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.
A.L.T. Junior Ranger
Children in grades 1 - 5 (and all that would like to participate) are invited to join the Aspetuck Land Trust Junior Ranger program. A.L.T. Junior Rangers explore and enjoy adventures at a variety of A.L.T. preserves. This activity is based upon your schedule. The Program has 2 fun components: Jr. Ranger Backpacks and the Jr. Ranger Activity Guidebook. Parents can now check out our Jr. Ranger Explorer backpacks from the Childrens Departments at the following libraries: Westport, Fairfield (main and Fairfield Woods branch), Weston, Easton and Pequot. These backpacks are intended to be checked out and used to enhance the Jr. Ranger activities located in the Jr. Ranger Activity Guidebook. Plus the Jr. Ranger Activity Guidebook that your child can use and keep. This is located inside the backpack, along with other items (see the image to the left). The Guidebook is for your child can be completed over time, at your leisure. This is a really great way to get outside with your child when you are able! It gives you something to do together and promotes the exploration of some of our many preserves.
To become an A.L.T. Junior Ranger, children simply complete the Guidebook activities such as hiking and leaf identification outlined in the Guidebook. Upon completion of the activities, which you log in the Guidebook, A.L.T Junior Rangers will be presented with a Certificate of Accomplishment and an A.L.T. Junior Ranger Patch at a special ceremony with A.L.T. Board Members. For additional information about our child friendly nature preserves approved and reviewed by a local mom and her child CLICK HERE or email: Administration@aspetucklandtrust.org.
We are sure you will find this a pleasant way to get outside and explore!
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.