Here are some free opportunities in and around Madison County that make education outside of the school system easy and fun. Click on titles for more info.
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Obviously you can find almost any book you'd need here and use computers (some pre-loaded with learning games for kids) but our library is pure gold because of their programming for children. They provide a few opportunities a week to every age group, including story times and sensory play for babies and toddlers. The seasonal reading programs offer incentive to read by winning a book every week. There are also many educational & sensory materials, games and learning toys available to check out and use at the library (some of these are also available to library card users to take home).
In addition to the endless possibilities found in the classroom of nature provided by the forest and river at Mounds State Park in Anderson the naturalists there also organize many events, classes and activities for all ages. There are interactive displays at the Nature Center, backpacks filled with learning materials to borrow for your hike, as well as kids books, puzzles and toys.. Park admission is free during the off season and 7$ if not.
The Outdoor Learning Lab is run by Daleville Public Schools and is open to the public during non-school hours. There's some really fun unorthodox playground equipment, sand, and edible plants to taste and observe. There is signage throughout encouraging kids to look deeper and learn more about what's available to explore.
Minnetrista in Muncie offers too much to list here. Community herb garden and orchard, hiking trail, gardens, historical homes to explore, a mud kitchen, events and for a small cost classes, workshops, a cabin filled with learning materials, backpacks filled with aids for exploring and museum galleries and exhibits.
Koteewi Park in Strawtown/Cicero has replicas of homes that indigenous folks in this area built and a replica archaeological dig to explore. At the Taylor Center of Natural History you will find an impressive collection of skulls, hides and live animals as well as puzzles, books and toys for kids. They offer kids programming and scavenger hunt sheets (prizes for completed hunts!) to make exploring the many trails near the White River even more fun.
Tuesdays at 6 during the summer Roady Racers meet near the Alex Pike Shadyside Park Playground in Anderson. Kids warm up together and learn about wellness and running before competing in either a 1/4 mile or mile run. This is an incredible opportunity for kids to make a healthy relationship with exercise and make new friends. Every kid that crosses the finish line wins a ribbon and every week there are free snacks.
During the growing season come to Collective Root's parking lot on Saturday mornings to check out goods from area artisans, makers and growers. Kid's receive a token good for 2$ of produce every visit.
Every First Friday of the month in Anderson you can bring the family downtown to check out the work of local artists (and often musicians) at A-town Center, the Union Building, Jack Rabbit Coffee and the Anderson Museum of Art. The Art Museum does a take home craft for kids each month.
Anderson has cool playgrounds and green spaces to explore but many don't know about the parks department's opportunities for learning and fitness for all ages (there are indoor activities during the cold season at the Geater Center). Also free kayak and paddle boat rentals from Bobber's at Shadyside Park.
Come and watch apple, pear, peach and paw paw trees develop fruit over the seasons and taste when ripe (also wild grapes nearby, pictured here). Just go to the parking lot at the 8th and Raible trailhead for the Anderson White River trail. The orchard is right off the start of the trail.