Who says blogging doesn't sometimes pay off? It's just a little harder to see it if you so strongly dislike advertising that you don't put it on your blog even if it pays you money and product reviews are few and far between. Every so often I will say yes to an offer that arrives in my inbox and the invitation to a sneak peak at the new Regenstein Learning Campus at the Chicago Botanic Gardens was one of those times.
So this afternoon I loaded up nine children (no P., who had a guitar lesson, but we had B., a special treat) and headed up to the gardens. The new campus is really lovely, and it was doubly nice to have it virtually to ourselves. The first thing you come to are outdoor play areas.
There are grassy hills for climbing and running and rolling up and down.
And other areas with rocks to climb on and tree trunks to crawl through.
L. (on left) and G.
More grassy hills
There is a winding stream where children can play or walk through.
And a little waterfall to splash in.
But those grassy hills do beckon.
R., who wasn't sure she wanted to climb up, but did make it eventually.
Y. made it, too. At first she looked at them and announced that she couldn't do it. When I said that was silly, of course she could, she gave it a try and kept climbing.
See her go?
Then we got to go inside. The first stop was the preschool classroom that will hold a nature-based preschool. It was a lovely classroom filled with all sorts of cool activities. My younger crew could have stayed here for much longer than I let them.
In the outdoor area of the preschool classroom was this water table. I am in love. Swooning, see it in my dreams love with this water table. You can't really tell from my photograph, but it has three tiers that the water can run down. It was fantastically well designed and once again, I had to drag people away. I loved it so much that I came home and found it online. Well. It is just going to have to live in my dreams. Reality and budgets kind of stink sometimes.
After the preschool classroom, we got to see the kitchen classroom. (See the movie camera? This was a real 'thing' we got invited to.) Everyone got to make tortillas and then eat them.
R., H., and Y.
The last stop for us was the children's growing garden. There they had a nice selection of activities to do with plant polination and a really cute hummingbird puppet that I may have to fine for our house. They had some really interesting plants there for the children to look at and investigate. Even some not-so-welcoming ones such as this one. Not only does this thing have spikes on the tops of it leaves but has equally wicked spikes on the underside as well.
R. trying to get a grasshopper to sit on her hand.
Y., G., and B.
There's the puppet I mentioned.
In another part of this same garden are watering cans and a spigot so that children can go and water the plants.
Y. carrying her watering can
Y. and H.
We had to leave before the saw the water area with frogs and things. (Yes, you can tell that M. was not with us, as this would otherwise would not have been allowed.)
Thank you to the Chicago Botanic Gardens. We had a fantastic afternoon, and good snacks that my children ate their weight in weren't so bad, either.
If you have a chance, you should go and visit. The grand opening to the public is September 10 and 11. Check it out.