Family Picks

For most, it's one last weekend before school starts to get the kids outside

CorrespondentAugust 15, 2013 

There are a variety of nature programs that kids can take part in before the start of the school year.


Believe it or not, the last week of summer vacation has arrived for most public school students.

If you’re looking to squeeze in a few more summer memories of exploring in the outdoors, there is an array of nature programs to choose from in the Triangle.

Many parks host these programs almost every weekend during the warmer months, and they’re a great way to get young kids curious about the natural world.

If you’re feeling ambitious, there are so many programs that you could make a whole day of hopping from one to the next.

Most charge a small fee and require registration, so be sure to call the park in advance.

Here are some options to choose from this weekend:

• 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday in Apex, Crowder District Park will hold “Bird Cafe,” where children can make bird feeders, learn what birds like to eat and the best place to hang a feeder. The cost is $4 per child, and you can register by calling 919-662-2850.

• At Cary’s Stevens Nature Center, kids ages 3-5 can learn about beavers and see evidence of their work 10-11 a.m. Saturday. The cost is $11 for Cary residents ($14 for non-residents), and you can register by calling 919-387-5980.

• For older kids, ages 5-8, Stevens will hold a separate “Insect Adventures” program 11 a.m. to noon. It’s part of a series of junior naturalist programs that encourage kids to explore nature. The cost is $8 for Cary residents and $10 for non-residents. Call the park to register for that one as well.

• 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Blue Jay Point County Park in Raleigh will host “The Better to Eat You With” as part of its family wildlife series. Kids age 5 and older can learn about prey and predators, study animal skulls and dissect an owl pellet. The cost is $5 per family. Call 919-870-4330 to register.

• For the bravest outdoor explorers, Lake Crabtree County Park in Morrisville will have “Spider Sniffing” 8-10 p.m. Saturday. Take your flashlight for a hike on the Old Beech Nature Trail, and your guide will show you a fun technique for finding spiders in the dark. It costs $5 per family, and you can register by calling 919-460-3355.

• On Sunday, 1-3 p.m., Lake Crabtree will hold “Down N’ Dirty,” where kids can dig in the dirt to learn about soil-dwelling creatures like springtails, nematodes and night crawlers. That one is $5 per family.

• On Sunday, 2-3 p.m., Crowder Park in Apex will help kids discover spiders, slugs and other creatures that live under logs. The cost is $5 per family.

• Last but not least, Harris Lake County Park in New Hill will have a “Haywagon Ride with the Lorax” on Sunday, 2:30-4 p.m. Families can listen to a reading of Dr. Seuss’ classic tale, and then take a hayride to learn what our native longleaf pines have in common with truffula trees. The ride is also $5 per family, and you can register by calling 919-387-4342.

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