Nature activities abound for families

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The Pajarito Environmental Education Center is sponsoring lots of fun, free activities for families this summer.
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Gail Haggard of Plants of the Southwest will create a wildflower meadow near PEEC’s new Mud Kitchen, and participants can watch and learn.
Haggard will share tips about how to seed an area to create that beautiful effect. She’ll also discuss which seeds work best, when to plant, and how to care for the flowers.
Plants of the Southwest has been in operation in Santa Fe since 1976 and Haggard has been working there since it opened. She loves native plants, and loves to share that knowledge with others.
This event is free and open to the public, and no registration is required.
Nature Playtimes commence from 10-11 a.m. every Monday at PEEC. During Nature Playtimes, kids up to age five enjoy a short storytime and a wide variety of activities about nature. Kids and parents rotate through activity stations together, with each week bringing new activities on a different theme.
The National Wildlife Federation recommends that every kid get outside for a “Green Hour” each day.
Time spent in nature reduces stress, increases attention spans, and stretches young brains in beneficial ways. Green Hour hikes are a great way to get kids outside, because kids decide how far to hike and when to stop and play. The hikaes are about the journey instead of the destination.
Kids have fun playing outside with the others on the hike, and parents have other parents to chat with while the kids are busy making mud pies, digging burrows, or setting up houses. PEEC volunteers will be leading Green Hour hikes 9 a.m. every Thursday in June and July.
To find the location each week, check PEEC’s website (pajaritoeec.org), subscribe to PEEC This Week, a weekly emailed newsletter (you can subscribe from the website), join the PEEC Family Nature Yahoo Group (groups.yahoo.com/group/peecfamilynature), or call 662-0460.
Fort building and digging in the dirt are such popular kid activities that PEEC has another activity that focuses just on that. First Friday Forts celebrates all things relating to sticks and dirt. Kids can build a giant fort in PEEC’s Nature Play Area, or get cooking in the mud kitchen. First Friday Forts is at 3:30 to 5 p.m. on the first Friday of every month. Parents must stay with their kids, but they’re welcome to sit on the benches outside, or access free Wi-Fi inside, as long as they are comfortable letting kids be outside on their own.
Meanwhile, kids will be busy setting up house, selling items at the trading post, planting a “garden” and “cooking” their harvest, or anything else they can dream up.
PEEC also offers Summer Family Evenings, with fun activities and events for families at 6:30 p.m., every Tuesday in June and July.
There is still time to sign up for Kids’ Summer Gardening (9 a.m., Wednesdays for kids in kindergarten through the third grade) and Elements with Melissa Mackey (2 p.m., Wednesdays for ages 8-12).
Learn more about these programs and more at pajaritoeec.org.