Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Class: Long Branch Nature Center

Long Branch Nature Center
625 S Carlin Springs Rd
Arlington, VA 22204

This morning LG and I attended a class at the Long Branch Nature Center. We had never been to the center before but it had been recommended by a neighbor. I thought that a good way to explore the center would be through the class (my neighbor has not attended a class). The class was inexpensive ($3 paid upon arrival) and runs for 45 minutes. There is one theme per month and the classes are offered multiple times per month. You can find out about classes in the Snag Newsletter.

Here is a breakdown of the class:

~ Information Session
The theme of the class is introduced, in our case: Bears. There were stuffed bears for the children to play with while the teacher told them about bears and hibernation. The teacher engaged the children through questions and by showing them a bear rug.

The children were all given the chance to stretch. The teacher did a little rhyme that children followed along with. It was cute but the teacher only did it two or three times so by the time the children had caught on to the game, it was over.

This was where we started to go downhill. The ball game. The teacher took out a ball (a highly desirable object for toddlers) and proceeded to roll it to one child at a time and have them roll it back. Okay, this is fine if there are say 3 kids, but with 9 children? I don't think so! This was way to long to ask most of the children to wait. LG was fine with the waiting but after she waited so long and patiently she was really disappointed when she didn't get to at least hold the ball for a little bit. So we made it around the circle with minimal tears and then the teacher decides to do it again! You have got to be kidding me! When something fails, just bail out! Anyway, this part of the class obviously bothered me.

So the theme is bears. I would think it would be very easy to find a book about bears that is appropriate for young toddlers. Sure it might not talk about hibernation but it would be about bears and therefore be on theme. So you can imagine my confusion when the teacher pulled out Don't Wake Up The Bear by Marjorie Dennis Murray. LG and I have taken this book out from the library. It is a good book and it does deal with the concept of hibernation. But it is a difficult read out loud book for 2 year olds. LG did fine with it when I read it one on one with her and was able to make it slightly shorter and we could talk about the animals. However, with this many children things got a little confusing (and loud, by this point many of them had had it).

~Art Project
This was a very cute idea. Each child received a brown construction paper bear and a brown paper bag. The bear could go into his cave. LG really liked putting her bear 'Night night.' There were cotton balls to add on for snow. Again very cute. Unfortunate that we didn't have a table when the glue came out but in the end we all coped just fine and the kids had a cute project.

~Nature Walk
This was not the day for a nice walk so we kept it short. We went to see the owl, who was awake and very cool. I can definitely see that this would be a great place to come on a nice fall day. The grounds seemed very interesting with a lot of fun things to explore.

One of the parents in the class commented that she enjoyed the class at the Gulf Branch Center more than this class. I am not sure why she enjoyed it more but I just thought I would put that out there.

I imagine that that class differs slightly depending on who is teaching it. We are signed up for another class in January so I will let you know if that one has a different format.

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