Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Zion Nature Center

This last week we stopped by our old house in Zionsville, visiting a few friends and the nature center we always visited. The center was usually only open on weekends, yet with preschoolers we often started with a program at the nearby library and then walked over to the nature center for hands-on exploration of the topic. Zion Nature Center is open on weekends.

It was a gorgeous day--we were okay outside without jackets! I noticed they were already tapping their maple trees. Looking forward to this soon. I also liked how they depicted the water of the area on panels along the fence. This is a great visual to see the impact of the water along the shoreline.

The Center is also a Certified Wildlife Habitat. There is a school next door--it is great they have access to nature so readily! Inside there are many animals. I liked how this section was organized with amphibians on one side and reptiles on the other. Above, they had information about each category, showing the differences and similarities. Of course the kids immediately watch the animals and I had information at my fingertips to discuss the differences with them. We could refer to the posted information as needed.

Throughout the museum, I noticed the intentional blend of good science and the invitation to play. There was a nice display on birds with information about each and a big basket of bird puppets. This was perfect for my preschooler. We could also make connections between the real specimens and the puppets. 


This whole front room was full of bird items. I like the varying heights, the interactive displays, the information available, and hands-on puzzles, puppets, etc. The specimens are up above where little hands can see, but don't touch; however, there are many opportunities of things to touch!

The nest display with floating shelves was effective as they let the viewer really see the details of the nest without being obscured with a wooden shelf.

Details throughout the center invited children to touch and make sense of the natural world.

There are seasonal displays throughout the center. These keep the center interesting and make opportunities for frequent visits throughout the year.

One room is entirely dedicated to play! There are small animals, games, tree blocks, costumes, puppets, and more! While small, this is a nice place to just chill and let children play for a while. 

These quiz displays allow interaction with information and pictures. During the winter, many "feeder" birds are easier to identify. These activities give practice in identification and more in-depth information on the birds.

I love how my son was engrossed in counting the rings. This was a huge piece of wood down at his level that he could inspect closely. The history of Indiana throughout the rings added to his experience.

There was a nice reading room. The books were color coded to easily put them back. Comfy chairs were available to sit and read for a spell. While children books were available, this was an inviting space for adults who want to learn more about nature.

Once again, this display on wild turkeys gave information and real specimens, yet also included puppets and hands-on items for the children to touch and feel.

Most of the walls were covered with information on animals of the area. Credit was given to local photographers in this interactive snake display. 

A whole room was dedicated to an insect display, including a live bee hive. 

It was great to see the birds up close! 

They had another room dedicated to Indiana Mammals with a focus on tracks, items to feel, and a place to play. All the specimens were up high on the wall for reference, yet out of the way of being destroyed.

Once again, special items were protected, yet could easily be seen. Items to touch and feel were nearby.

Another room had lots of animals. The turtles are usually kept in the attic over the winter, yet they come downstairs for a bath once a week. The boys enjoyed watching them up close. They also have a great aquarium to view! 

We had a great time visiting our old stomping grounds! This is next to a school and woods with a small creek running through it. There are hiking trails nearby. We've put the backpack carrier on many, many times to stroll through the woods and explore. They also regularly hold programs at the Center and larger programs, like animal shows at the nearby town hall. If you're in the area on a weekend, this is a nice place to explore and connect with nature. I appreciate all they do to encourage nature education in the area.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know there was a nature center in Zionsville! Looks nice. Thanks for the information.