Audubon Offering OT-Inspired Nature Play Days on July and August Mondays

The Audubon Community Nature Center has a special opportunity for children from ages 18 months to 10 years this summer: OT-inspired Nature Play Days.

On six Mondays in July (11, 18, and 25) and August (8, 15, and 22), Audubon is collaborating with local occupational therapist Jenna Miller to use their space and her expertise to deepen the impact of nature connections through nature play.

The 9 to 10 a.m. sessions are for children ages 18 months to 3 years with one caregiver. From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. is for children ages 4 to 6, and 1 to 4 p.m. is for 7 to 10 year-olds.

The techniques used in these play groups are designed to enhance developmentally appropriate play skills and meaningful social engagement with peers. They offer purposeful interactions, while exploring all the great outdoors has to offer. For the youngest group, families alongside their children can develop a sense of connection to nature as well as tips and tricks on ways to encourage their children to safely experience play opportunities in nature.

Play groups are not therapeutic interventions or a replacement for receiving occupational therapy services, nor do they require an occupational therapy evaluation or script to participate. Instead, they pair the accessible, natural resource at Audubon with the scientific knowledge of occupational therapy to create a community-based experience for children and their caregivers.

Depending on the ages of the children, group sessions can be expected to include:

¯ nature-based activities that provide sensory-rich play experiences

¯ a nature hike that includes alternative terrain for the development of mobility skills

¯ real-life opportunities for cause and effect learning

¯ opportunities for free play in a loosely structured environment

¯ strategies for parents to promote play in nature at home

¯ healthy snack time (caregivers send snacks with children)

¯ learning activities that foster a connection with nature

¯ risky play opportunities that foster social-emotional learning, problem solving, team building, and resiliency

Play groups will use both indoor and outdoor spaces in all but the most inclement weather.

Enrollment is limited to 20 participants per session.

Fees for the program are $25 for 18 months to 3 years (with one caregiver), $46 for ages 4 to 6, and $64 for ages 7 to 10. ACNC members receive a 25% discount.

Paid reservations are required by the Wednesday before the program day.

For all the details and to register, call 716-569-2345 during business hours or go to AudubonCNC.org and click on “Register for a Program.”

To review ACNC’s most up to date COVID-19 protocols, visit AudubonCNC.org and read the COVID-19 Notice at the top of the page.

Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren. Visit the 600-acre nature preserve and see Liberty, the non-releasable Bald Eagle, enjoy the native tree arboretum, gardens, picnic area, natural play space and hike the six miles of trails dawn until dusk daily for free.

The three-story Nature Center building houses interactive displays, a collection of live animals including the Hellbender exhibit, the 2021 Nature Photography Contest winners, and the Blue Heron Gift Shop. Visitors are welcome Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sundays, 1 to 4:30 p.m. Nature Center members and SNAP/EBT cardholders have free building admission daily. Building admission is also free every Sunday for non-Nature Center members.

To learn more about Audubon and its programs, call 716-569-2345, find Audubon Community Nature Center on Facebook, or visit AudubonCNC.org.


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