Standing along a trail holding a basketball may not seem like a lesson in astronomy, but to make outdoor education fun, naturalists use unconventional techniques. A series of activities developed by Irvine Ranch Conservancy in partnership with the City of Irvine helps to make lessons about nature more relevant to kids, and help them understand the natural world around them.
These programs are intended to introduce kids of all ages to the significance of Orange County’s only National Natural Landmark.
Wee Wonder Walks
Wee Wonder Walks is a pre-school aged program that allows children ages 2 - 6 to explore the wonders of nature in a safe natural setting in open space. Each program focuses on a different natural history topic that is appropriate for little ones, ranging from discovering our colors, how animals move and the changes for a butterfly. After an interactive discussion, craft or activity, the group moves out along the trails, searching for new discoveries. Topics include “Groundhog Phil’s California Cousins,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and “Sparkly Stars.”
Canyon Explorers is offered as a perfect afternoon adventure for children ages 6 - 10 years of age. The program spends time exploring the program's topic, possibly creating a craft or playing a game, before heading out on the trails to practice what they have learned. The hike is a gentle 1-mile trek along uneven terrain where our kids can become Canyon Explorers. Topics include “Nature’s Pranksters,” “Beyond the Bite,” and “Scent-sational Smells.”
J.O.Y. for Nature
J.O.Y. for Nature (Juniors or Youths for Nature) is a monthly series dedicated to showcasing different career opportunities in nature for tweens. From examining tiny bugs to exploring outer space, each month will focus on a specific nature topic and how youth can explore more of that profession for school. This series is geared towards middle school young adults ages 9 - 12, who are interested in discovering different career paths in nature. Topics include “Happening Herps,” “Natural Artists,” and “CSI: Critter Scene Investigators.”