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Free winter playgroup explores nature

The free Winter Rovers Nature Playgroup for children ages 3-7 begins Thursday, Jan. 3, from 2-4 p.m. at The Lake Superior Estuarium, 3 Marina Drive, Barker's Island, Superior.

Winter Rovers is a free series that includes nature activities, crafts, games, snacks and stories led by professional education staff at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve. Additional sessions will take place Jan. 5 from 10 a.m. to noon; Jan. 10 from 2-4 p.m.; and Jan. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Winter Rovers and other nature play programs support lifelong science learning. Nature play also offers many benefits to young children. A study conducted in Sweden compared motor skill development with children whose preschool spent two hours a day in the natural outdoors versus traditional playground playtime.

By the end of the year, the students that had nature as a playground outperformed their traditional playground peers.

Others studies have shown that when children experience nature at an early age, their brain development improves 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 preregistration is necessary. Children can join for one event or the entire series.

Call education coordinator Deanna Erickson at 715-399-4086 for more information.