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Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year to play outside with kids. The leaves are changing and North Carolina’s humidity and heat are less of a factor. If playing outside sounds like fun, come and celebrate the seventh annual Take a Child Outside Week and play with us at the new Prairie Ridge Nature Play Space on Saturday, September 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free. The Prairie Ridge Ecostation is the outdoor field station of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences,  located at 1671 Gold Star Drive, Raleigh, NC 27607.

Nature Play Space is a learning environment designed for young children, seven and under, to explore the outdoors using natural materials. Families are invited to join Museum staff on the prairie’s grassy knoll to hunt for ladybugs and grasshoppers, listen to stories, sing songs, investigate the fun uses of river cane and participate in turtle tracking.

Inside Prairie Ridge’s Outdoor Classroom, they can make a tree-cookie name tag or tattoo a rock! After refreshments and our vine cutting ceremony,  the Nature Play Space will open and children can investigate how water moves using funnels, explore a groundhog tunnel, use screens and sifters to discover what’s hiding in “Jurassic Sand,” transform acorns, pinecones and berries in our nature kitchen, build a gnome home, weave a design in the fence using natural objects and participate in an interactive Story Time in the outdoor amphitheater.  Participants are asked to please dress for the weather, consider insect repellent, sunscreen and wear closed-toe shoes.

Today’s generation of children don’t spend significant time outdoors exploring the natural world right outside their door. Studies have shown that this alienation from the environment can lead to feelings of stress, trouble paying attention, increased childhood obesity and feelings of being disconnected from the world. To address this trend, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences designated September 24 – 30, Take A Child Outside Week all across the nation. The week is also inspired and supported by Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder.” To find out more about Take A Child Outside Week visit www.takeachildoutside.org.

Currently, all 50 US states and four foreign countries actively participate in Take A Child Outside Week. More than 400 organizations participate nationwide, including North Carolina State Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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