Hudson Highlands Nature Museum Outdoor Discovery Center
Pre-school & younger, Young elementary
$3; free for children younger than 2
Grasshopper Grove is a natural play area for young children that encourages them to explore the outdoor world, get their hands dirty, and have fun. Children can hop from stump to stump, dance, sing and perform in the Adirondack lean-to, lie down on top of a hill and watch the clouds make pictures in the sky, read a story with Mom or Dad in the rustic gazebo, water and weed a garden, and construct roads in the sand and dirt pile. These simple activities strengthen eye-hand coordination and muscle development while fostering creativity, critical thinking, appropriate risk-taking, problem solving, and cooperation, which are all critical to healthy childhood development.
Grasshopper Grove follows a design developed in collaboration with Museum staff, board, parents and preschool students by one of the world's leaders in the field, Adam Bienenstock of Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds. Beginning with a half-acre of field surrounded by a rough stone wall and mature shag bark hickory trees, the area was graded to incorporate a low hill surrounded by a path, a dry stream bed and a higher hill offering a view of nearby fields and ponds.
Taking inspiration from the 'wild' areas of the Outdoor Discovery Center, where the Museum's Young Naturalist Preschoolers love to play, elements were added to the area that include a fallen oak tree for climbing, large boulders, a wooden gazebo and Adirondack lean-to and an area of 'loose parts' for building. A series of cedar troughs catch water flowing from an old fashioned hand pump into the dry stream bed.
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