DIY Preschool: Science and Natural History

(This is the second in a series of posts about Worcester-area educational activities for preschool-aged children.)

One of the main reasons we wanted a flexible preschool schedule for our eldest was so that he could take Discovering Nature as a Preschooler at the Broad Meadow Brook Audubon Sanctuary. (The Wachusett Meadow preschool brochure describes an extremely similar program.)  We like this program because it takes up a full Tuesday morning (9.30 to noon), and it includes a nature walk (snowshoeing in the winter!) and a craft.  The teacher, Tammy, is really awesome.  So, this has been a really great choice for us.

This year, he also started a class at the Tri-Community YMCA (in Southbridge) called “Investigation Station” which is a bit more science-experiment-y (using magnets, seeing whether things will float or sink, etc.).   Why do we go there instead of the Greendale Y?  Because they’ve got a nice Thursday-morning lineup and because it’s actually easier for us to get there at 9:00am than to attempt to cross the City of Worcester.  (My mother views Southbridge the way most people view Appalachia, so it’s worth getting the weekly eye-roll, accompanied by the, “I can’t believe you’re exposing him to Southbridge” lecture we get from her when she asks our son what he did this week…)

EcoTarium offers two programs for the under-6 set.  Preschool Wednesdays is a morning program for kids under 4.  We went to quite a few of these when our elder son was three and our younger son was a newborn.  There’s a story and presentation of an animal (either live or taxidermied) and a craft.  It’s definitely worth going to because we could always do that for 45 minutes or so, and then spend the rest of the morning exploring the museum.

Other area classes we haven’t tried:

The EcoTarium also offers a program for slightly older kids the first Thursday of the month.  The program is called Budding Scientists and it’s for children aged 4-6.  We’ve never been, mostly because we usually have something else planned for Thursday mornings, and because it’s really difficult to do anything with a five-year-old when you have a two-year-old in tow.  (That’s a nice part of the Broad Meadow Brook program — you can drop off your older one and take the younger one grocery shopping.)

Greendale YMCA offers a science class called The Science Kid for children ages 4-6 and a nature class called Hundred Acre wood for ages 3-5.  Some sessions of those classes are offered at working-parent-friendly times (evenings and Saturday mornings).

My husband notes that there are a lot of one-off things that we’ve done of interest — animal encounters at libraries, visiting Wheelabrator Millbury, and walks with the Greater  Worcester Land Trust (one of his legion of Facebook friends).  But I need to milk this series for all the blog posts it’s worth, so I’ll do a separate post on field trips.

Also in this Series:

DIY Preschool: The Background