This week, my 3 year old daughter and I experienced a fantastic morning at the Junior Nature Club thanks to Waggle Dance.
Waggle Dance offer gift packages, offering interesting and unique experience gifts for children of all ages, and the Junior Nature Club is just one of these adventures.
Junior Nature Club is a program run by a Zoologist Christina Renowden for pre-schoolers. Each term the program runs at a different park or nature reserve in Melbourne. The aim is to invite children to connect with nature, while learning about the various plants and animals that are around them.
The session we attended was at Cheltenham Park. We met in a grassy area where each child was given a bug jar and a bug chart for identifying bugs. Children were then encouraged to run off and explore to see what they could find.
Christina has a very relaxed and carefree style and my daughter instantly felt comfortable to run through the park with the other children. She wasn't too enthused about the actual bug catching to begin with, as it is something we have never done before, but she was more than happy to carry around a bug that Christina had caught for her in the jar, and compare it to all the other children's catches. It was amazing to see little kids running around comparing bugs, and digging around in the dirt care free.
More bushwalking led us to an interesting tree to climb, a dead tree with a hole to look into and finally a gap in the clearing for us to sit and learn more about bugs. Bugs, both plastic and in jars, nature toys and books were spread out and children chose what they wanted to play and interact with, all the while asking questions of their parents and resident zoologist. Children then created their own bugs out of clay and sticks and what ever they could find.
To signal the end of the session, all children were given a musical instrument to play and sang to a beautiful song about a ghekko.
The session ran for an hour and a half and I was a bit skeptical to see how my daughter would go after the initial bug freak out! But the nature of the class allowed her to quickly relax and participate, and at the end she didn't want to leave. The session is mostly self directed with children choosing which way to go and what to play with, which promotes independence and makes children feel at ease.
Children are encouraged to use all their senses while out in the bush, not worrying about getting dirty and having the freedom to play, which I think is fantastic.
The idea of gift of a Junior Nature Club activity, or any other Waggle Dance experience, is to illustrate how parents, family members and friends can offer something far greater to a child, than a quickly forgotten toy.
Waggle Dance offer children fun experiences that can also be shared with parents or loved ones, much like the Junior Nature Club adventure.