You know you have a supportive family, when you tell them you are going to the Zoo today and it is 35 degrees and raining; and they only complain a little bit. I was in Chicago and I really wanted to see the Brookfield Zoo's Nature Playground and this was the only time we could go. So we bundled up and headed to the Zoo.
It is a great Zoo (or so I have been told) we only made it the the Hamill Family Play Zoo where the nature playground is located. Luckily, there is an indoor and outdoor part of the play area so the rest of the family stayed indoors while I stood outside in the freezing cold taking pictures of a playground with no children on it. Hopefully you will still get the idea.
According to MIG who designed the area the goal of this family-centered “adventure and discovery landscape” is to help children and adults develop a caring attitude towards animals and nature. They continue by saying "This zoo changed the old paradigm of a petting zoo or farm into a participatory setting where children take the lead through interactive exhibits where they become the animal keepers, the zoo staff, the zoo designers, and even the animals." The Hamill Family Play Zoo received the 2002 Best Exhibit Award from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
The inside component is wonderful. It is like a children's museum, but dedicated to animals and being in a zoo. You can dress up as animals, paint your face as an animal. become part of the zoo staff in addition to looking at animals and even getting to pet a soft rabbit. The inside is beautifully designed and there were tons of families with young children having a ball.
The outside component was also nice, although I have seen pictures of much more elaborate and engaging nature playgrounds. It was difficult to completely tell how children would interact in the environment because it was so grey and some of the area wasn't open yet for the season. But for anyone who wants to experience a nature playground this is a good introduction.
Here is the slide show:
Once, I finished taking pictures, we quickly left the museum--so sorry we didn't see more. But I owed my daughter big time for all the picture taking I did during vacation, so we went to the Magnificent Mile and went shopping--ending with chocolate sundaes.
- Let Kids Play
- I am an educator, a parent of a child with multi-disabilities, and a seasoned advocate for inclusive. I believe that ALL children should play! Unstructured, creative and imaginative play. Working on strengths not weaknesses. I will be sharing ideas about playgrounds, toys, disabilities, and my own personal story. You can learn more about what I do at my website www.letkidsplay.com. To learn about accessible playgrounds, visit accessibleplayground.net.