Nature Explore® Outdoor Exhibit

Our Nature Explore Outdoor Exhibit draws on field-tested, research-based principles to create effective spaces that support children’s interactions with the natural world. Developed collaboratively by the EcoTarium and the Nature Explore organization, based on these principles.

Entering Nature Explore, children and families will find the following play areas:

Gathering Area: This flexible space with wooden benches offers a welcoming space for orientation, hands-on science programs, or even story time for our younger visitors.

Sand Digging Area: Bring your young builders and diggers here to create while you enjoy the natural log seating, or help make sand masterpieces!

Building Area: Using natural, child-sized building materials such as wooden blocks, mini-bricks, and tree blocks, children can build the house, castle, or city of their imagination.

Nature Art Area: Set on a deck under trees, this area inspires close observation and creativity with natural art materials on specially-designed nature art tables. Make your own pieces of art, create a sculpture, paint, or build a fairy house!

Messy Materials Area: In this large space, children can use a wide variety of natural materials (logs, twigs, tree cookies, and fabric) to build over-sized collaborative projects such as forts or shelters.

Dirt Digging Area: This area encourages children to use tools as well as their imagination. From a mud kitchen to engineering projects, the sky’s the limit.

Climbing and Crawling Area: Anchored by existing play structures from our Freedman Playground, this area is all about physical motor play. Visit old favorites such as the climbing net and climbing structures, or try the new crooked natural log balance beam.

Fox Den Area: In a simple den, children can pretend to be a fox, a fairy, or an explorer camping in the wilderness.

Eagle Nest Area: We’ve kept this favorite play structure for kids to role-play while sitting on one of the big eagle eggs.

Music and Movement Area: In this area, a stage has been constructed to host guest performers and a wide range of programs by EcoTarium staff. We also welcome impromptu performances by our visitors!

Open Area: This is the space for large-motor activities such as running, jumping, dancing, or playing active games. In winter, it becomes the perfect spot for building snow people or snow forts.

Water Play Area: Children are invited to experiment, investigate, and observe the properties of water in a safe, open-ended environment. Hone math and science skills when measuring with watering cans or studying cause and effect scenarios when using the hand pump (seasonal). Or, just splash!

Nature Explore is a collaborative program of Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.

The Nature Explore Outdoor Exhibit has been made possible by many generous donors in our community including Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and UniBank.

Nature is a great place to play! The outdoors offers children space to:

  • Play creatively and imaginatively
  • Improve social and physical development
  • Practice collaboration
  • Gain greater self-awareness
  • Feel independent and take appropriate risks
  • Participate in joyful movement
  • Have fun!