Reflections on the Nature Tots program

Wednesday, December 14, 2016
A little mud is a good thing!

A little girl at Nature Tots stood in the mud, rubber boots protecting her tiny feet. She used a hoe to move the mud around her.

Within moments, that wasnít enough. She plunged her hands into the mud, working it through her fingers. But that wasnít enough eitherÖ

I turned around a few moments later, and there she was, in her bare feet, standing in the mire, wiggling her toes with a huge smile on her face as the mud squeezed and squished underneath her bare feet. Her huge smile made me smile. It was one of my favorite moments from the summer.

The Get Muddy Nature Tots program at the Dickinson County Nature Center this summer was something I hadnít experienced before. Our programs are usually a little more structured, but that month our naturalists decided to let kids be a little wild and just experience the joy of getting dirty. The toddlers painted with colored mud, built mud pies, looked through mud for worms and just enjoyed staining their old clothes and covering themselves in dirt. (Donít worry, we warned the parents beforehand!)

The free Nature Tots program, held the second Wednesday of each month, has been growing rapidly this year. Parents and grandparents have loved exposing their toddlers, ages 2-5, to the beauty and joy of nature.

Because of the programís rapid growth, we have decided to add a second section of Nature Tots in 2017. The program will be held at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each month. The topic at each session will be the same, but it will help keep our numbers at each program lower so that each tot gets the most out of the lessons, crafts and hikes. By adding the second session, we hope to allow more families access to the program without hindering the quality of the learning.

We are so overjoyed that Nature Tots has grown so much, and weíre appreciative of all the families who make this program a regular part of their monthly schedule. The morning program the first three months of 2017 is at full capacity already, so please make sure to call 712-336-6352 to register for the afternoon sessions.

Nature Tots is all about helping toddlers to dig in and learn for themselves. Our naturalists believe that learning often looks like play, and each program is designed to get children excited about nature, to give them real-life experiences and to help them start asking questions about our world.

Whether the theme is Get Muddy, Busy Bees, Icky Animals or Discover Dinos --- Nature Tots is packed full of fun, learning and exploration.

And the smiles that we see each month are the best part.

You can find a full schedule of Dickinson County Nature Center programs at, and you can also keep up with the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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