We are so pleased to be able to share this visitor letter with you and we hope that, in your own way, you find the Nature Discovery Center to be “Just right!”
Gretchen is 3 years old. Our first trip to the Nature Discovery Center began at the playground. We meandered through what must have seemed to her like a magical forest right out of a favorite children’s book. The path invited her to explore the wooded area with lizards, frogs, dragonflies, and butterflies. There were quiet places to sit, and we saw birds, as well as the beloved bunnies. The path areas are not manicured or forced into landscaping, but instead they are tenderly tended to allow the plants, trees, and animals to be themselves. Gretchen was encouraged by her environment to touch and examine the wooded area and become part of nature.
The park is about the discovery of nature AND the nature of discovery.
The “magic forest” path opens to an old house that looks as though a kindly crone might be in residence. Once inside this old home, young children are at home. Every room feels like it could belong to the child, because indeed, they do belong to the children. Drawers with specimens to touch, prod, and caress are worn with age and sticky fingers. Children are invited to linger and learn in a room with child size furniture and books. And in addition, there is a whole ocean room that invites children to play hide and seek while matching names to sea creatures.
Gretchen opened drawers and carefully poked and petted fur, animal skeletons, and all manner of “stuff.” The room is set up to allow children to follow their own curiosity and learning timeline. Having a setting that is unhurried and filled with unlimited possibilities is a treasure. And everything is touchable!
Matthew is 6 years old. His trip to the Nature Discovery Center coincided with a birthday party that was ending. While the parents gathered and cleaned, Matthew made a new friend and the two boys romped up and down the stairs and played in the ocean room. Two little pirates sailed the seven seas of their imaginations. The same rooms in which Gretchen had quietly opened drawers and looked at books became an adventure playground to the little boys. The house and discovery rooms are built for multiple experiences.
My grandchildren live in Blacksburg, Virginia. I have memberships to the major museums in Houston, but they asked frequently if we’re going back to the house with the drawers this summer. Of course we are! Of all the museums and parks in Houston, the Nature Discovery Center is like “Goldilocks:” not too big, not too small, but just right. The home invites touch and play, sticky fingers and all. Children are part of the ocean and woods and open fields. The walk on the path, into the house, and up the stairs is, for a young child, a walk of wonder and excitement mixed with comfort.
Everything about the Nature Discovery Center is “just right.”
~ a local Grandparent
Please donate to our midyear appeal to help us help families like this Grandma’s, and like your own, continue to connect with nature.