Children from the Special Learning Center (SLC) were able to experience nature in a whole new way Thursday, using their senses of smell, touch, sight and sound on the Naturescape Sensory Trail at the Runge Nature Center.
"There isn't anything better than being outdoors," said Jan Alexander, a volunteer at the Runge Nature Center.
At the beginning of the trail, the kids were allowed to smell different spices like sage, parsley and thyme and were asked to point out the colorful flowers they saw in the garden.
They were allowed to touch the fur of a fox, a beaver and an otter. Inside of a decorated box, they also touched smooth surfaces found on various kinds of nuts you would find in trees.
And a crowd pleaser of the evening was getting to see a live turtle crawl right before their eyes.
The sense of hearing came into play toward the end of the trail, where there was a cabinet full of musical instruments for the kids to play with and listen to.
"Our mantra says go out and discover nature," Alexander said. "That's exactly what we want everyone to be able to do at our center."
She explained the Naturescape Sensory Path is structured so people who are looking for just a moderate walk or parents with strollers can easily get through the trail.
Amy Edwards, program director at the SLC, said families were able to take advantage of this opportunity through a grant sponsored by the Children's Trust Fund.
"This trip was a way to involve the parents in the activities so that they, too, can be learning with their children," said Edwards. "Plus, kids learn best through their senses."