A father and daughter explore the Nature PlaySpace

Celebrate the importance of outdoor play in the lives and education of children in the NC Museum of Natural Sciences' Nature PlaySpace, designed especially for families with young children!

On September 28, 2013, Prairie Ridge Ecostation unveiled the beginnings of the Nature PlaySpace as part of our Take A Child Outside Week celebration. Made possible in part by a grant from PNC’s Grow Up Great, the PlaySpace provides families with a place to enjoy the natural world, a perfect backdrop for children first learning how to care for our natural resources. Families can explore the otter slide, groundhog tunnel, woodland hut, mini-prairie maze, and areas for art, digging, and water play. Children can climb over logs and boulders, roll in the grass, make mud pies, observe nature, and dig for "fossils."

There are two entrance arbors into the PlaySpace. One is on the paved pathway that leads to the amphitheater. The other is located just down the hill from our Outdoor Classroom. Bathrooms with a changing station are available in the Outdoor Classroom and picnic tables are available just outside the PlaySpace. Nature PlaySpace hours are the same as for Prairie Ridge. Directions to Prairie Ridge Ecostation.

Nature PlayDays

Every other Tuesday and Saturday, 10am–noon

Come out and play! The Nature PlaySpace will be stocked with extra special materials and supplies and a Museum play facilitator will be present to help you play your way. Supplies may vary from week to week, but include fun things like fort-building equipment, puppets and costumes, bubbles, paint, giant blocks and more.

For more information, see the programs on the calendar:

Nature Play Days

Nature Creators

Every other Tuesday and Saturday, 10:30am

Calling all creators and builders! Join us in the Nature PlaySpace as we bring out a variety of materials to create artwork, build structures and connect with the natural world around us. Each week will look a little bit different as we utilize different materials, strive towards different goals and bring together different creative minds. A Museum staff member will be present, helping to facilitate your creative experience.

For more information, see the programs on the calendar:

Nature Creators programs

Nature Stories

Thursdays, 10:30am

Join us as we open your eyes to the wonderful world of nature through a family-friendly, nature-filled storytime. We’ll begin by sharing a story in the Nature PlaySpace Amphitheater at 10:30am, and will then head to other areas of Prairie Ridge as we explore natural themes from each day’s stories in a hands-on, interactive manner.

For more information, see the programs on the calendar:

Nature Stories programs

Bringing a Group to the PlaySpace?

We ask that you notify the Prairie Ridge staff ahead of time if you plan to bring groups of 10 or more to visit the Nature PlaySpace or other parts of Prairie Ridge. Contact Emma Blackford at emma.blackford@naturalsciences.org or 919.707.8737 for more information or to notify us of your visit.

Help Wanted!

Our Nature PlaySpace is a work in progress, and new features will be added as funds and volunteers become available. If you are interested in providing funding for, or volunteering in, this unique space, please contact emma.blackford@naturalsciences.org or 919.707.8737.