Sunday Sunset @ Wildwood Community Park

We had a gorgeous Sunday, so of course, we had to spend it outside. We had a leisurely big family brunch- one of my favorite things to do on the weekend- followed by a hike at Babler and then a visit with my parents, who live near Wildwood.

Wildwood Community Park is located near 109 and 100. It’s kind of hidden off the road just west of 100. It’s on the right if you are coming westbound on 100. It’s fairly new, and it’s really nice. It has a gorgeous Pavillon and nice bathrooms. It’s all accessible too, even the tallest tower and slide. It always warms my heart to see my dad playing with my kids, but it was very special to see my dad be able to access all the places the kids wanted to go.

The playground has a ton of activities for all kids big and small. We had four kids from a newly turned three year old up to a ten year old, and nobody ran short of things to do. The playground is nature themed and it’s surrounded by woods, which I love. A creek runs by it as well, and this is easily accessible- no climbing, sliding, or scrambling necessary to get down there.

The playground has a tall structure with climbing apparatus and two tube slides. There is a ramp to get to the top, so this is accessible for all as well. There is a typical climbing structure with steps also and metal slides on both ends. It has tipi shaped structures connected by a metal bridge. There’s a roller slide, an obstacle course type climbing structure with monkey bars, a few swings, a unique round swing, a merry go round with climbing structure, a web-like rope climbing structure, two climbing walls connected with rope net, some log-type climbing structures, a ball that spins and sways- so much! It’s aesthetically beautiful and very fun and functional.

It is pretty large and so I was glad to have a man-on-man D for our trip. :). There were lots of families there and it was pretty crowded because it was such a nice day. But as dinner time approached and the sun started to get low, it emptied out and eventually, it was just us.

I’ve been here a couple times and we will definitely be back!

Nature Classroom @ Towne Park

I hurt myself last week, and wasn’t quite feeling up to a hike. But I would never deprive my children of some quality outdoor exploration! So we headed to Towne Park, a St. Charles County Park in the Wentzville area.

The park is listed as in “Foristell,” so it took me a while to actually visit because in my mind, it was really far away. It really isn’t far, and it doesn’t *feel* like Foristell- it’s right off 61, about six miles north of the 40/70 intersection. My cousin recommended it to me, knowing that we would love it, and she was right! It features a playground, pavillions, several paved and natural surface trails, and a fishing pond, but its most attractive amenity in my opinion is the Nature Explore Classroom!

This is not just a few benches in the woods, which is what I always think of when I imagine an outdoor classroom. This is a Nature Explore certified classroom. Nature Explore is a national nonprofit program of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, which works collaboratively with a network of organizations throughout the nation. Their goal is to help nature become an integral, joyful part of children’s daily learning.  Nature Explore provides research-based workshops, design consultations and resources created to support programs as they continue to connect children and families to the wonders of nature. What I love about this is that the goals of this program completely align with my family values, and the research and intention behind the design and programming totally align with the educator in me. There are not many in Missouri, and only a few in public spaces. Most are in private schools. We are lucky to have two nearby- MoBot Gardens @ Shaw Nature Reserve and Towne Park! I love having them in the public space, accessible to everybody so that all children can benefit from it.

When we first entered the area, the kids were thrilled! We hit the music section first, where there were many instruments to try out, small and large, made of natural materials.

Then my kids spent a lot of time in the construction area. The entire classroom area has gravel trails around and through it, with plentiful seating in the form of wood benches. We hung back and let the kids figure it out in the construction area. It was slightly Lord of the Flies-esque, but it was so exciting and rewarding to watch them negotiate, compromise, and help each other as they worked on building a little city, shelter, and bridge. There are logs and sticks for them to build with, as well as stools and tunnels to climb and play in.

There was a water feature area. Powered by a bike and series of chains/gears, you pump water into a gutter that flows down onto some rocks. The kids really were enthused about this, though it was tougher for the youngest ones, and for Nick who is always challenged by bikes. He was very motivated though, and I was proud watching him try and try again to pump the water! Eventually, Kareem got on the bike and Nicky got soaked, but we had a great time.

There were climbing structures, a huge tire swing, a balance area, and a sand area among other things. This kept them engaged for a very long time. We then crossed the pond via pier and went to the more traditional playground, which had something for everybody as well.

We spent a few hours here. I’ll definitely want to bring a picnic and make a day of it next time- so fun!