Ivy Creek Natural Area is a magical place for children to learn, play and grow. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our usual offerings of guided programs for children are on hold right now but there are still so many ways to experience the magic. Of course, one of the best is to simply come and take a walk. In joyfully observing what you find and safely interacting with nature, you can spark a curiosity and lifetime love in a child.
We have collected the following resources for parents, grandparents and caregivers who might be looking for ways to talk about nature with young people and/or simply need a little inspiration. We hope that you can find something useful.
Little Naturalists; children ages 3-5:
During this time that we are unable to offer Little Naturalist programs, our guides have created some tools for you to use. For families that are new to the Ivy Creek Natural Area, here is an introduction to some of the places you might explore. Our Little Naturalist (LN) guides have also created a series of themed units to inspire you to get outside with your preschoolers. These activities follow the rhythm of a LN gathering with stories, book recommendations, fun facts, activities and even some coloring pages. These might give you things to talk about when you are out in your backyard, in a neighborhood park or out at Ivy Creek.
- Praying Mantis
- Autumn Leaves
- Great Blue Heron
For exploring with older children:
Ivy Creek has been providing guided tours for school groups for almost 40 years. These tours are integral to our mission and dear to our hearts. While guided tours are on hold due to the pandemic, there are some ways that you can still add another dimension to your family hike at Ivy Creek.
Try using one of these self-guided trail tours that you can download from our website and bring with you.
There are also several GPS triggered audio tours specific to the Ivy Creek Natural Area. The Water and Geology Walk for Families takes you down to Martin's Branch and introduces you to a rock that is a billion years old. Or take a walk created by Dede Smith: Listening to the Landscape: Wildlife Habitat. Download the free Izi travel app and walk them at Ivy Creek with earbuds. Or "walk" them using your home computer. You can also access other audio tours relevant to Ivy Creek, including the monthly Walking With Bess series.
A wonderful place to explore with kids is the Ivy Creek Pollinator Garden which is found near the Education Building and Barn. Our volunteer gardeners have provided information for you about the garden and the pollinators that visit it which you can find on our Gardens page. For ideas on how to engage children while visiting the Pollinator Garden, you can visit the Capturing Kids' Attention in the Pollinator Garden page.
For learning about River View Farm:
Before Ivy Creek Natural Area was created, this land had been owned and farmed by the Carr/Greer family for over 100 years. Hugh Carr was a formerly enslaved man who bought, established, nurtured and grew River View Farm where he and his wife raised their seven children. The family was an integral part of the local history of the time and we have created ways to share some of that history with you, even while we cannot invite you into the Barn or Farmhouse at the current time.
Our Education Committee created this way to introduce River View Farm to younger children.
Stop at the kiosk with older children to read about Hugh Carr and the Union Ridge community and/or try taking this audio tour, created by Dede Smith: Listening to the Landscape: Walking through History.
We hope that you enjoy your time at Ivy Creek. And remind you that we continue to ask for your respect for others while visiting. Please be mindful of physical distance with other visitors. Please hike out any trash or food stuffs that you bring with you. Stay mindful of the wildlife that make their homes at Ivy Creek and interact safely and respectfully.
Feel free to contact us with questions, thoughts or suggestions.