Exciting New Learning Options At The Morton Arboretum Children’s Garden
“Force” Called “Macgyvers” Enhances Children’s Experiences
LISLE, IL (June 28, 2006) – Doing puppet shows in a beautiful garden may sound like child’s play, but it’s serious business for the “Macgyvers,” a whole new group of student educators at The Morton Arboretum’s Children’s Garden. 44 Macgyvers – from junior and senior high schools – begin this week leading younger children in activities to help them learn about nature in fun, compelling ways. The sessions enrich the young teachers as much as their students, who are age six and under.
“I think it’s time that I start giving back to my community,” says Victoria Helle, a Macgyver and Glen Ellyn tenth-grader.
Kathryn Slivovsky, Children’s Garden Program Coordinator, explains that “Macgyvers are at an age when they need authentic ways to contribute meaningfully to others, and they enjoy having responsibility.”
The Macgyvers’ involvement helps strengthen their own connection to the natural world, develop skills in public speaking and early childhood development, engender a love for the Arboretum and enhance the experience of guests in the Children’s Garden, Slivovsky said.
“Macgyvers” is an acronym for Morton Arboretum Children’s Garden Youth Volunteers.
There are four Macgyver activities. A “Puppet Theater” helps kids learn what kinds of animals live in the Children’s Garden, and lets the youngsters express themselves creatively through play. There is also “What’s Inside Mystery Box” for auditory learning. Kids see stuffed-animal birds, hear their calls, and then match the bird calls with pictures of the birds. Another activity: “Worms Help Our Garden Grow,” introduces composting. In “Skull Match,” children are allowed to touch actual skulls of raccoons, squirrels, beavers and other animals. If they wish, children may then see pictures of animals and guess what kind of animal produced each skull.
The educational games “validate” the young children’s interest in nature, Slivovsky said, adding that the children enjoy a sense of “I can do it” when they successfully meet challenges in each game. The age-appropriate activities “grow their imaginations,” Slivovsky says, adding that nature’s unpredictability can stimulate the child.
Macgyvers, wearing attractive, red shirts, will work four-hour shifts once a week, either Tuesday, Friday or Saturday, from 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. They will not “shadow” adult volunteers or Children’s Garden staff, but are entrusted with the equipment and instructional material they use to lead each activity.
“They enjoy increased self-esteem when completing educational activities often reserved for adults,” Slivovsky says.
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized 1,700-acre outdoor museum with collections of more than 3,700 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum's beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission – the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Rte. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (CDT) and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CST). The Children's Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CDT) and 9:30 to 4 p.m. (CST). Visit www.mortonarb.org or call 630/968-0074 to learn more.