October is a great month to get outside, the leaves are changing colors, the humidity and bugs are at a lull, and it offers an opportune time to explore the outdoor environment. The great outdoors offers a necessary experience for both children and adults alike. Being outside supports many sensory experiences including; gross motor development, which is the most obvious, but not all encompassing of the stimulation you will enjoy.
Being outside offers sensory experiences that stimulate development for children in other areas as well, sounds, sights, smells, and light are all different outside. Aspects such as; observing a bird in flight, feeling the breeze, seeing sunlight, watching breath crystallize on a cold day, tasting raindrops and snowflakes are just a few examples of experiences that are unique to the outdoors.
Expanding exploration and learning experiences to the outside environment can offer unique learning opportunities for children, and what better way to do this than by exploring one of our many Forest Preserves here in Illinois.
Ryerson Woods is a tried and true favorite and easily accessible from all areas of the greater Chicago area. Ryerson Woods Welcome Center is located at 21950 N. Riverwoods Road in Deerfield Illinois, and you can check out their web-site at www.ryersonwoods.com.
Ryerson Conservation area, which is better known as Ryerson Woods, is comprised of more than 550 acres of woodland and supports some of Illinois’ most pristine land and several state threatened and endangered species. The welcome Center was built in 2006, and is an example of “green architecture” and has achieved a platinum rating which is the highest level of standards. Most importantly it has clean bathrooms, several child friendly exhibits, and a friendly staff who are always willing to help including handing out Band-Aids!
Besides the phenomenal Welcome Center, which makes this area very Family friendly, there are over 5 miles of trails to explore and you can check-out nature themed Explorer Backpacks that are filled with Family friendly hands-on activities.
What makes this experience even better is there is no parking or admission fee, and you can pack a lunch or snack, there are several benches even along the trail for weary travelers, and bathrooms in the Brushwood Mansion open to public use, making this accessible for ALL.