Fun For All Ages
Toddlers: Discovering nature
Young children learn through play and use of their senses. Spend more time in a few areas of the Garden instead of trying to visit every area. Encourage your toddler to explore with their eyes, ears, and hands, but discourage behavior that is harmful to the child or plants. What is the softest leaf you can find? Which is the sweetest smelling flower? The most colorful plant? Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the Garden.
3 to 5 years: Exploring their world
Preschoolers are naturally curious, eager to explore, and learn best through play with real objects. Support your child’s developing sense of independence by letting them choose where to go and what to do.
Point out interesting things and let your child share discoveries—conversation will help their developing language skills, too.
The Garden’s large, colorful flowers, fruits, and seeds beckon kids to play and giant acorns beg to be climbed.
6 to 8 years: Making connections
Children in early elementary grades gain a deeper understanding of the world when they make connections between what they learn at school, at home, and at the Arboretum. Help your child recognize similarities between the things in this garden and other places.
Talk about what they are learning in school and how it applies to what they find at the Arboretum. How many tree leaf shapes can you recognize? Are there any trees you haven’t seen before?
9 to 12 years: Building their understanding further
Older children are more attuned to details and relationships among things. Use the Garden as a laboratory for your child to identify trees, observe plant and animal interactions, or study design.
Spend time playing in Adventure Woods, and focus on details that interest your child in the Backyard Discovery Gardens. Look at the plants and animals living in this pond. Can you find one that looks like a segmented green stalk? Watch all the insects that land on it to rest.
12 and up: Applying knowledge
Middle school students can become youth volunteers in the Children’s Garden and beyond, presenting nature activities to younger children.
Adults: Gathering inspiration
The Garden landscape offers ideas for the home. Look for labels or ask a staff member to identify a specimen.
Visit the Arboretum’s Plant Clinic, at the Visitor Center, for more information about plants in the Children’s Garden.
If you enjoy spending time in the Garden, consider becoming a volunteer!