Play Matters Blog

Beyond Discovery Woods

Rachel Danford

One of the main goals we had for Discovery Woods and our accessible Treehouse was to tempt families to get outside, and then encourage them to also explore the 183 acres of the Great Hill conservation land that abuts our

property. Since the grand opening of Discovery Woods in July and throughout this fall, we’ve seen more and more families venturing out to explore the woods—sometimes as participants in our Backyard and Beyond programs, and sometimes on their own for a family nature walk. We love seeing that!

We are thrilled with how successful Discovery Woods has been as a stepping stone for families to spend time on the conservation land. We’ve been privileged to explore the trails with young visitors and watch them experience the woods with all their senses. 

In the summer we had lots of fun exploring the muddy creek, finding new friends along the trail, and trying to identify wild flowers using our handy pocket guide.

As the leaves changed, the conservation land became a wonderful venue to learn about the shifting seasons. We’ve made nature journals to record the changes we see from summer to fall, we’ve done sock walks to learn how seeds travel, and, of course, we've enjoyed many autumn leaf art projects!

We’re looking forward to the colder weather because we have lots of creative ideas for engaging our visitors outdoors—through the winter and beyond!  

Rachel Danford

I joined Discovery Museum as the Outdoor and Environmental Educator after completing my PhD in Environmental Conservation and Policy at UMass-Amherst. My passion has always been to provide opportunities for people to connect with nature! I love how easy it is for children to engage with nature, and how they show me new and amazing things about the outside world. 


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