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Nature playgroup exposes kids to outdoors

The free River Rovers Nature Playgroup for children ages 3-7 begins Thursday and runs every Thursday until August 23. The group meets from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Lake Superior Estuarium, 3 Marina Drive on Barker's Island, Superior. Nature activities, crafts, games, snacks and stories are led by professional education staff at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve and provided free of charge.

River Rovers and other nature play programs support lifelong science learning and nature play offers many benefits to young children. One study conducted in Sweden over a year compared motor skill development with children whose preschool spent two hours a day in the natural outdoors vs. traditional playground playtime. By the end of the year, the students that had nature as a playground outperformed their playground peers. Others studies have shown that when children experience nature at an early age, their brain development improved for problem solving and creative thinking as well as increasing chances of becoming lifelong outdoor enthusiasts.

Parents or caretakers should attend with their children for the duration of the program. No registration is necessary and children can join for one week or the entire summer. For more information, call Reserve education coordinator Deanna Erickson at (715) 399-4086.

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