Teach Your Kids About Mother Earth at These (Free or Nearly Free!) Nature Classes

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How does a bumblebee get nectar? What’s a Fiddler crab? How do you compost? If these questions piqued your curiosity, head to these San Diego parks and reserves to satiate your family’s appetite for knowledge. At these free (or nearly free!) classes your budding biologists will compost, learn about the lifecycle of animals and earn a Junior Ranger badge. Read on to get the inside scoop on these hands-on experiences.

sanelijo_nikki_walshPhoto: Nikki Walsh

Family Fun Days at San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center
Engage little explorers in nature with hands-on exhibits about bees, birds, turtles, and other estuary creatures and by doing creative crafts. Grab the gang (rain or shine) and head to these complimentary classes at the eco-friendly San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center, where little learners study an animal’s lifecycle. Bring a lunch to eat upstairs after the class, then immerse yourself in the outdoors by strolling the one-mile loop trail. This educational outing is convenient for families due to free parking, restrooms, and water fountains. Another perk: little adventurers can earn a Junior Ranger badge.

Date: First Sunday of every month
Time: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center
2710 Manchester Ave.
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Ca 92007
Online: sanelijo.org/familyfun

composting_discoverycenterchulavistaPhoto: Living Coast Discovery Center

Free Composting Workshops at Living Coast Discovery Center
Your kids know the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle…  but do they know how to compost? They will after attending this free workshop at the Living Coast Discovery Center. Your whole clan can get their hands dirty, learn about the wonders of soil, and dig in to practical ways to set up a home composting system. Park in the Discovery Center parking lot, then take the free shuttle to the center. Afterwards, your little earth helpers can blow off steam walking the reserve, or you can pay to visit the critters inside the center.

Family Composting Workshop: Sun., 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.

Living Coast Discovery Center
Bay Boulevard and E Street
1000 Gunpowder Point Dr.
Chula Vista, Ca 91910
Online: thelivingcoast.org

junior_rangerPhoto: Cabrillo National Monument

Junior Ranger Program at Cabrillo National Monument
Let your little nature-lover find his/her way to ranger-hood by learning about the Kumeyaay Indians and the Spanish Explorers who make up this National Park’s history. Head to the Visitor Center when you first arrive and ask for a “Just for Kids” newspaper to start this day-long adventure. Walk around and find the monuments, watch a movie, and put on Spanish armor, and your adventurer will earn their Junior Ranger badge in no-time. You and your newly pinned wildlife protector can explore the lighthouse, look out at the whale-watching point, or drive down to the tide pools. This adventure is well worth the drive and park entrance fee.

Cost: Parking, $10/car

Cabrillo National Monument
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92106
Online: nps.gov/cabrillo

Where are your favorite nature classes for kids? Tell us in the comments below.

—Nikki Walsh