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04.09.2013
The area consists of 3 major communities influenced by the New River which originates in the Everglades and passes through: cypress and maple wetlands, mangrove and pond apple wetland and the laurel oak hammock. Near the entrance is the Butterfly Island which is a walk-through butterfly garden filled with over 20 different species of butterfly friendly plants. The Monarch Interpretive Center offers interactive interpretive displays with a working beehive, live snakes, and a theater with presentations on the Everglades.  Three computer kiosks feature interactive programs about plant, animal, and marine life, as well as weather and soil.
The charming Julia Hall may be rented for private events with a capacity of about 100 people and a fully equipped kitchen.
Have you ever thought about getting one of those bead-stringing games designed to help children develop fine motor skills and figure out how to fit a needle through a tiny opening?A  You could buy one, which would obviously be the more efficient thing to do, but here's a cost-conscious, entertaining idea on how to make your own.A  This project requires a little time, but if you think of it as three separate activities -- modeling clay, painting, and then playing with completed beads -- it's really manageable and the payoff is long-term. I've been on the hunt for inspiring activities that foster creative thinking, and just came across a sweet project called Super Sized Marble Painting from Jenny at Let the Children Play.
Jenny is a preschool teacher, so many of her activities are geared toward large groups of kids and I was pressed to figure out a way to pull this off with just me and my 2-year old. Children get to experiment withA non-art materials (in this case, marbles or rocks instead of paintbrushes), a reminder that all things are not necessarily what they seem, and that objects can be repurposed with new possibilities. Older children will problem-solve as they try to figure out how to achieve color and line combinations within this almost unpredictable, moving framework. A tray with handles that your paper will fit in (and that you're willing to dedicate to art projects!). As the paintings are finished, lay them out to dry on a table or tape them to a fence or wall. Clean-up: A I dropped the rocks in a sand pail filled with water, swished it around, and poured the water on in the garden, and we washed our hands in the hose before heading inside.


The town next to us boasts a fabulous kids parade every Fourth of July, where kids of all sizes decorate a vehicle of their choice and then parade down the main street, ending at the park for a big festival of music, hotdogs, and bouncy houses. This really simple project could be spun in a hundred different directions (see links below for other ideas), and it's a great way to add some bling to your yard, wagon, bedroom, patio, birthday party, etc.
Extra fancy, extra credit: If you plan to see both sides of the banner, glue another set of triangles to the back of each piece. Another issue was that I didn't have any marbles in the house, and I couldn't swallow forking out $11 for the marbles I found at the toystore this morning. A This is not quite Jackson Pollack Action Painting, but without someA physical activity the artwork would just never happen. I lined my bowl with tin foil so that I could simply throw the paint away when we were done -- easy clean-up! A Great to have on hand in case your child wants to ditch the rocks for good, ol' fashioned brush painting.
A Excitement will build, andthis is the point at which you must be ready andwilling to hand the entire activity over to your little one!
This is our second year in the parade: A Last year I did all the decorating, but this year N and I collaborated on a triangle banner to adorn her wagon. A And, if you have time and a sewing machine, you could sew these together with some pretty, wide ribbon for a more lasting creation. It's divided into four sections, one for each season, and the pages are full of a million little details that are reminiscent of Richard Scarry's illustrations and Where's Waldo. The trail has a series of four bridges that allow access through a tidal marsh where you can see leather ferns, pond apple trees, white mangroves, and a variety of palms.


In a fit of resourcefulness that I attribute to my girl scout past, I remembered the big bowl of smooth river rocks I have tucked away for forcing hyacinth bulbs to grow. A I was happy using one bowl for all the colors, but you may want yours in separate containers.
A We talked about the parade all morning, and she was enthusiastic about the process of drawing circles, dashes and dots all over her triangles.
I cut 8.5 x 11 paper in half, and then cut free-hand triangles from the paper (we were in a hurry!). It's tons of fun to look at (no words, really), it never gets boring (at least it hasn't, yet), and we're currently obsessed with the Fall Season that's full of pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, and other fall goodies. This website is an ongoing exploration of what GOOD is and what it can be." A Plus, it's fun to read!
The site, creatingminds.org is full of all kinds of wonderful information on retaining and developing your creativity childhood.
Delight in the little critters that inhabit this area like crabs, lizards, birds and squirrels. When I turn to a page, I'll simply ask, "what's going on in the picture?" and the conversation develops from there. The Swallowtail Classroom can be reserved  for a fee via the park office and offers an environmental education classroom for up to 20 occupants.



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