Nature’s Classroom

How children can learn at Lakeshore State Park

Nature is an amazing classroom for children of all ages, and Lakeshore State Park is especially amazing because of its unique combination of prairie and shoreline environments, not to mention its close proximity to three museums and a bike trail.

There’s plenty of evidence that interacting with nature helps promote academic learning, personal development, and environmental stewardship. Studies have shown that time in nature also helps with attention levels, relieves stress, teaches self-discipline and promotes creativity among children, to name just some of the benefits. 

At Lakeshore we aim to spark interest in all things outdoors, and we try to make activities as fun as possible. If a child, or adult, leaves with a better understanding of and appreciation for the outdoors, then we have done our job.

Park Manager Elaine Zautke

Here are some ways to use Lakeshore State Park’s natural resources to help kids learn while they’re having fun.

Take a trail walk. In addition to promoting motor skills and exercise, trails walks are a great, unstructured way to explore. Lakeshore State Park has both paved and unpaved trails, both of which offer chances to observe prairie and shoreline wildlife. Try using a guide book or an app to identify plants, birds and animals — or just let your little one follow their curiosity, whether watching from a stroller or wandering with you.

Try a nature-based art project. This can be done in a variety of ways: taking photos, finding leaves and flowers for a collage, sketching shapes and pictures, even writing a poem or story about what you see.

Try a scavenger hunt. Create a list of items to spot while exploring Lakeshore State Park. Depending on the child’s age, it can be very simple (a bird, a stick, a bug, a fish, a flower, a rock) or more advanced (specific species of birds, for instance). Some of the items can be collected, but if not you can record them together with photos or in a journal. It’s a great way to encourage observational skills while learning about  different types of plants and animals. You can incorporate things like counting, spelling, color and word skills into the activity, too. 

Attend an event at Lakeshore State Park. The park’s educators offer a wide variety of programs for kids, such as fishing clinics (no license required for children 15 and under) and events that focus on different urban critters. They’re all designed to be hands-on and family-friendly. For a current list of activities, check out the FLSP Events Page.

Your support is essential to the continued success of the Park.

Please consider making a membership donation below today!

Park Pal Membership Level

Individual: $25
Family: $50

Prairie Patron Membership Levels

Rock Prairie: $100
Fox Prairie: $250
Kid’s Prairie: $500
Big Prairie: $1,000