March 4, 2012

Tyke Hike: Shipley Nature Center

Saturday we went on a 'Tyke Hike' at the Shipley Nature Center in Huntington Beach.

I learned about this hike though this FunOrangeCountyParks blog.

We decided to go to breakfast at Crystal Cove beach beforehand, and even though we got there early, we had so much beach fun we were running a couple minutes late getting to Shipley. Luckily we were still among the first to arrive and didn't miss any part of the program.

starting our hike!
We signed in, and got name tags and explored the space in front of the center (mostly just the magnets on the sign board) until everyone arrived. Then we sat down in the mini amphitheater for just a minute while the guides explained the game plan.

We would (loosely) follow some 'clues' to 3 different spots where activities had been planned. Along the way, we learned lots of fun facts about California flora and fauna. For instance, I didn't know California has two State Trees (the Redwood and the Sequoia).
learning about the different varieties of sage in the park - some are good for rubbing on you to keep bugs away, while others you can rub on you to mask your scent from deer you may want to hunt

All walking involved was probably under half a mile and we spent 1.5 to 2 hours on our 'hike'. Also, there was a cost of $5 per person for the hike, but the guides were having so much fun, they nearly forgot to collect it. Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised at this trip. I was most happy with the fact that even though I think kids a little older than M (19 months) would get more out of this hike, we were never made to feel like he was disrupting the group (even when he was totally ignoring the meditation exercises below and throwing the props and running screaming into the open field), and the guide often used his name to engage him in activities. I am definitely planning on attending the next one in May!

If you visit Shipley on your own, check out the main center. Since we arrived late, we only caught a glimpse when we ducked in for a diaper change, but I instantly wish we had more time to play in it. It is relatively small, but appeared to have lots of activities, and props for kids to learn. Bathrooms are located there as well!

Don't forget water, snacks, a hat and sunscreen... and your camera!
our first stop was to check out the inside of a Native American hut (an Eagle scout project donated to the park)
we heard about the Native American legend about how California was built on the backs of turtles, and when the turtle siblings push each other, we feel earthquakes.

then we got to make turtles out of egg crate sections, pipe cleaners and paint.

our next stop was to learn some animal-themed Chi Gong exercises. M was less interested in this activity, but was happy to throw the balls they had as extra props

family exercisers
walking to our last station

the guide showed some native animals, that we were allowed to touch: a tortoise, a tarantula, and a gopher snake!

then we got magnifying glasses to look for bugs
using mirrors to look for bugs on the undersides of leaves

we were even given a kids' guide to state parks (written by kids) and a history of Orange County coloring book 

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