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Exploring Trees at the Please Touch Museum

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Please Touch MuseumWith the weather outside looking pretty frightful lately, the Please Touch Museum is all the more delightful for parents and kiddos suffering from cabin fever. As most folks know, Please Touch is a treasure trove of indoor activities, but the newest exhibit – Exploring Trees Inside and Out – offers a welcome taste of the outdoors.  

Presented by Doubletree Hotels, Exploring Trees is a traveling exhibit developed by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation to help children better understand the significant role trees play in the environment and the simple steps they can take to help conserve the earth's natural resources. With more than a dozen “sensation stations,” the exhibit gives kids a variety of unique ways to experience nature. They can settle into a giant nest and tend the eggs. They can walk inside an acorn to learn how it grows into a tree. Or they can don bird, squirrel, or bug costumes and see themselves as forest creatures live on television. 

Nature is an important part of learning development, says Jen Bush, VP of Education for Please Touch. She explains that this exhibit was designed to promote cooperation and build self-esteem – offering some activities that require children to play and learn together and other activities that help children better understand their individual place in the environment. 

As a mom, I particularly appreciate that the variety of activities can engage little ones of all ages and interests. There are stations aimed at engaging the senses, where children can listen to forest sounds or take in the various scents of the outdoors. There are stations that tickle their imaginations, where they can color their own nature scenes or build their own birdhouses. And then there’s the exciting centerpiece – the great tree trunk/jungle gym. Here, kids climb and crawl up, in, and around to see how a tree provides shelter for all sorts of creatures. There are platforms, tunnels, rope walks, and a slide that drops kids into a pile of leaves! Anyone craving a good old trip to the playground will be more than satisfied. 

As with nearly everything at the Please Touch Museum, Exploring Trees accommodates big kids and littler ones. Almost all of the stations offer two seat heights, so that littler kids can touch and play with ease. And though my 1-1/2 year old isn’t quite ready for some of the climbing of the big tree trunk, he was happy to run and crawl around at the base, play in the leaves, and climb backwards up the slide. There’s so much to explore in Exploring Trees, you could almost make a visit out of this exhibit alone. 

Exploring Trees Inside and Out will be at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia through May 2, 2010. The exhibit is included with general museum admission, $15 for adults and children over the age of one. Children under the age of one are free. The museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Please Touch Museum is located at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic