If you want your children to experience some of the good old-fashioned outdoor play that kids reveled in before they were constantly racing to lessons, camps and sports leagues, try Wilkerson Nature Preserve in North Raleigh.
Today and the third Friday of every month, Wilkerson Nature Preserve hosts a Nature Play Day where kids can build forts, make mud pies, blow bubbles and dig for buried treasure. Activities run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We set up a whole bunch of outdoor stations that help the children to play in nature,” said park manager Marti Kane.
The 157-acre preserve opened in 2011 and is one of Raleigh’s newest parks. The land was donated to the city by a doctor who stipulated that it be used for nature and wildlife education.
The park has trails, ponds and fields but no traditional play equipment.
At any time, families can check out an “explorer backpack” containing items such as binoculars, a compass, a bug-viewing box, a nature journal and a card to help them identify different types of animal tracks and scat.
With your pack, you can hike one of three short loop trails: one through a forest, one around a pond and another that leads to a rocky outcropping where kids can explore and climb.
On the special play days, Kane said staffers add play stations such as a theater curtain in the woods with puppets and materials for making costumes. The audience sits on stumps.
They also put out materials such as bamboo and rope that can be used for making teepees or forts. They create a mud pit and a sand pit with buried gems and shells and provide supplies for building fairy houses and blowing bubbles. When it’s windy enough, they bring out kites.
Kane said the activities are appropriate for children of all ages.
The play days are free and do not require registration. The park is at 11408 Raven Ridge Road in Raleigh. For more information: 919-996-6764.
Some ice time
On Saturday, the Polar Ice House of Wake Forest will hold a free open house to introduce kids to their new hockey league that will begin in the fall.
Beginners can receive a free hourlong lesson beginning at 4:15 p.m. Afterward, they can participate in stick and puck drills until 7 p.m.
The Polar Ice House says the league will be a cheaper alternative to travel leagues in the area.
For more information, go to icehousewakeforest.com.
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