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Affordable Nature-Based Education for Children

Children in garden.

Looking for something fun and educational for your children? I recently experienced a fantastic nature-based educational program at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center.

During our first Wonder Sprouts class, my son discovered the joy of turning lemons into lemonade, literally.

Suzanne Perry Slavens, Life Science Director and teacher, sang a song about a moose who loved his juice. Afterwards, she led our class to the on-site organic citrus orchards where everyone picked lemons and piled them high into baskets.

Returning to the pavilion overlooking a large, colorful organic garden, we continued singing while the children pressed juice out of the lemons. In a large mason jar, the children swirled the lemon juice with sugar and water.

While drinking a cup of his very own lemonade, my son said, “Mmmm. Lemons are yummy.”

The children also made seed mosaics depicting the lemon tree life cycle.

After the class finished, I asked Suzanne what inspired her unique program. “I hope that if kids develop a sense of connection to nature at a very young age it will benefit them throughout their lives – mind, body and soul,” Suzanne replied. “And of course – I love singing our silly songs together!”

Seems like at least in the short term, Suzanne’s hopes came to fruition for our family. Months after the last Wonder Sprouts class, my son still sings the songs he learned with Suzanne while gardening and cooking at our home.

The next six-week session of classes for ages 3-6 begins Friday, October 7, from 3:00-4:30 PM at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center in the Irvine Regional Park. And sure enough, one of the classes again deals with citrus. Other themes include root vegetables, butternut squash seeds and composting.

Pre-registration necessary at to prepare materials. Suggested donation per class: $10 – 1 child, $15 – 2 children. All 6: $45 – 1 child $65 – 2 children.

For more information, contact Suzanne at [email protected] or 714-923-3191.

By Kristine Carter

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