National News

Tadpole School teaches youngsters about nature

Posted July 17

— A new monthly series of classes at High Falls State Park aims to not only get smaller children out into nature, but to help them have a little fun learning about it.

Park naturalist Lindsay Terrell leads the Tadpole School class, which has been held twice and is scheduled again Aug. 17. In it, children ages 2 to 5 can play for an hour, learning about nature with the help of Terrell and their own family members.

The July 13 session focused on animals. Terrell brought a basket full of plastic animals for Eadric Prosser, 3, of Flovilla and Oliver Gardner, 2, of Barnesville to play with. As they did, they learned about wings, legs and other body parts - and a few colors while they were at it.

"At the first one we had eight children," Terrell said of the inaugural Tadpole School lesson. She said she hopes the program will grow in popularity.

"Tadpole School is something Lindsay and I came up with at a Growing Up WILD training," Park Resource Manager Alyson Snipes said. "It's aimed at giving mommies and babies a safe place to learn about nature. We're trying to make it a monthly series. We have some fun activities."

Growing Up WILD is a training program sponsored by Project WILD, a wildlife-focused conservation and education organization.

The first program was about birds and how they eat, Snipes said. "We're trying to expose them to different nature themes," she said.

On Aug. 17, the group will learn about animals that live in High Falls Lake.

Aimed at preschool children, learning is combined with play. For the July program, it allowed the two boys to find out how animals move, eat, rest and play.

Prosser laid out several plastic animals in a line and successfully named most of them, including a hammerhead shark.

"I like sharks," he said. "I like crocodiles too."

Soon Terrell had the boys out from under the shelter and in the grass, rolling a giant cardboard die that encouraged them to gallop like horses, crawl like beetles and otherwise imitate a variety of animals.

The park also offers a group for elementary-age children who are home schooled. It meets one Thursday morning a month from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The Tadpole School will meet next from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Aug. 17 at the park's shelter 4, the same place Homeschool Thursdays is held. There is a$5 program fee and a ParkPass is required. High Falls State Park is at 76 High Falls Park Drive, Jackson. For more information, call 478-993-3053.

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