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Go Ask Mom

Destination: Prairie Ridge Ecostation storytime

Posted September 5, 2013
Updated September 23, 2013

Prairie Ridge Ecostation, nicknamed the "backyard of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences," is the latest Triangle spot to offer a regular storytime for preschoolers.

The weekly morning program started last month and is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Thursdays, for kids ages 2 to 6 and their adults. (NOTE the time change. It was originally 10 a.m., Thursdays).

Long-time Go Ask Mom readers know that I'm a big fan of this 50-acre spot on the western edge of Raleigh not too far from the N.C. Museum of Art. The outdoor facility is part of the natural sciences museum and serves as an outdoor learning space and model for renewable and sustainable energy.

It's also just a great place to explore - from the prairies with grasses taller than most adults and the pond to look for water creatures to the low-land forest with all sorts of trees. A small natural play area, where my own kids can spend hours, includes a fossil dig, gnome home building area and dirt pile (again, emphasis on small). 

But there are big plans for the spot, including a much larger natural play space that will be partially unveiled at a family-friendly event on Sept. 28. Click here for more information. I'll have much more about that as we get closer to the end of this month, so stay tuned. It's an exciting development! Prairie Ridge Ecostation Destination: Prairie Ridge Ecostation storytime

Prairie Ridge staffers hope the new weekly storytime will pull more families out for visits. The program typically starts in the outdoor amphitheater right next to the new play area's home. Kids and adults gather for stories and some discussion about the topic of the day - butterflies one week, grasshoppers the next. Kids pretended to be the creature of the day - fluttering like a butterfly, for instance, or munching like a grasshopper.

Then the group takes a short walk to another spot at Prairie Ridge. During the first storytime, we walked over to the garden to find all kinds of caterpillars and butterflies. The next week, we found grasshoppers in the tall grasses.

My preschooler really enjoyed our two morning visits there for storytime (she's back at school now). And it even kept my third grader, who was still out of school for the first storytime, entertained. She loved searching for caterpillars and chrysalis in the garden. 

Some logistics if you go: Wear closed toe shoes. If you're bringing a baby who might ride in a stroller, bring a jogging stroller that can make it over natural terrain or wear your baby in a backpack or sling. There are bathrooms on site.

I chatted with Julie Hall, an environmental educator and mom who has worked to develop the storytimes, about the program. For more about the storytime and to see some scenes, watch the quick video interview.

The storytime is free. No pre-registration is required. Find Prairie Ridge Ecostation at 1671 Gold Star Dr. off Reedy Creek Road in Raleigh.

And in related storytime news: Don't forget that the N.C. Museum of History also now offers a regular storytime.

Go Ask Mom features places to take kids every Friday. For more ideas, check our posts on park and playground reviews and Triangle family destinations.

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