VISIT & explore

Enhance your visit

Bloom, Zoom, & Sprout at the Children's GardenClimb colossal acorns at the Children's Garden

Suggestions for enhancing learning in the Children's Garden.

Toddlers: Discovering Nature

Young children learn through play and use of their senses.

  • Spend more time in a few areas of the garden instead of trying to visit the whole garden.
  • Encourage your toddler to explore with her eyes, ears, and hands, but discourage behavior that is harmful to the child or the plants.

What is the softest leaf you can find? Which is the sweetest smelling flower? The most colorful plant? Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the garden.


3-5 years: Exploring their world

Preschoolers are naturally curious, eager to explore, and learn best through play with real objects.

  • Support your child's developing sense of independence by letting him choose where to go and what to do.
  • Point out interesting things and let your child share discoveries—conversation will help his developing language skills, too.

Our large, colorful flowers, fruits and seeds beckon kids to play and giant acorns beg to be climbed. 


6-8 years: Making Connections

Children in early elementary grades gain deeper understanding of the world when they make connections between what they learn at school, at home, and at the Arboretum.

  • Help your child recognize similarities between the things in this Garden and other places.
  • Talk about what she is learning in school and how it applies to what she finds here.

How many tree leaf shapes can you recognize? Are there any trees you haven’t seen before?


9-12 years: Building their Understanding Further

Older children are more attuned to details and relationships among things.

  • Use the Garden as a laboratory for your child to identify trees, observe plant and animal interactions or study design.
  • Spend time playing in Adventure Woods, and focus on details that interest your child in the Backyard Discovery Gardens.

Look at all the plants and animals living in this pond. Can you find one that looks like a segmented green stalk? Watch all the insects that land on it to rest. 


12 and up: applying Knowledge

Middle school students can become youth volunteers, "Macgyvers," presenting nature activities to younger children.


Adults: Gathering Inspiration

The Garden landscape offers ideas for the home.

  • Look for labels or ask a person in a yellow apron to identify a specimen.
  • Visit our Plant Clinic for more information about plants in the Garden.
  • If you enjoy the Garden, consider becoming a volunteer!