By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Toddlers had a chance to get close and personal with two reptiles June 13 at the Birch Hill Cabin during Tales for Toddlers, a monthly program of the Ford Nature Center in Mill Creek Metroparks.
Naturalist Julie Bartolone showed the children a painted turtle and an Eastern box turtle and gave them a chance to touch both to feel the hardness of their shells.
In response to Bartolone’s questions, the children shouted out turtle descriptions, such as slow, rough, and green. Then they watched the box turtle crawl across the floor and see that it moved faster than they expected. The children also learned about turtles through a book Bartolone read, making a craft, and taking a hike around the Lily Pond.
The turtle program was the first Tales for Toddlers event for Emily Myers and her son, Cooper.
“He loves animals, any animals,” Myers said.
Angela Brose and her son Luke attend the Tales for Toddlers program regularly.
“I have fond memories of coming to the Ford Nature Center when I was a kid in Girl Scouts,” Brose said. “And so I wanted my kids to have the same experience, to enjoy the beauty of this park.”
It’s also good to learn about nature, she said.
“Just back to basics, learning about nature, and none of the bells and whistles, just the basic beauty of God and nature. We just love it,” Brose said.
The program is geared toward 2- and 3-year-olds, Bartolone said, so it’s basically an introduction to turtles.
“You really can’t go into too much detail,” she said. “They learn through play, so everything they’re doing has to be play involved. They learn through the actual hands on, the play and the exploration.”
Tales for Toddlers is offered monthly at Ford Nature Center in Mill Creek Metroparks. During the summer months, however, the program is often held in other parts of the park.