Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo

Open 9a-5p, last admission 4p

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Open 9a-5p, last admission 4p

View All Rates ›

Family Nature Club

Family Nature Club is dedicated to re-connecting families with the outdoors.  Research shows that children’s lives are greatly enhanced when provided many diverse opportunities to play outside in nature.  These kids are happier, healthier, more self-confident and creative.  In addition, Nature Club encourages families to spend quality time together and helps strengthen family bonds.    

If you and your family are looking for opportunities to get outside, explore, and discover all of nature’s many wonders, check out our Family Nature Club!  We are excited for another year of activities that encourage families to immerse in the outdoors and learn about nature.

Nature Play Philosophy:

  • Child-lead, unstructured play in nature.
  • Open-ended, free exploration without many adult restraints and rules. 
  • Hands-on, imaginative sensory experiences outside.

What Nature Play Might Look Like:

  • Building tree houses and forts in the woods 
  • Catching frogs and splashing in creeks
  • Daydreaming and watching clouds in a field      
  • Searching for creatures under a rock or log
  • Sorting pinecones, leaves, and sticks
  • Or simply running around outside!

The Importance of Nature Play for Children:

  • Supports child development (intellectual, emotional, social, physical, spiritual)
  • Encourages creativity and problem solving.
  • Enhances cognitive ability.
  • Increases physical activity.
  • Fosters an appreciation for nature and the desire to preserve it.

About Family Nature Club:

Family Nature Club adventures are generally held on the fourth Saturday of the month at 1:30 pm unless otherwise specified.

All adventures will be approximately 1.5 hours in length.  

Activities are free of charge but require registration as space and supplies are limited. For activities located at Blank Park Zoo, admission is not included with registration. Families that participate in Family Nature Club activities will receive admission tickets for 1 free child with paid adult.

All children must be accompanied by an adult aged 18 years or older.

Click here to register for an activity.

April 27, 2019 - Frogs and Toads - Blank Park Zoo - 1:30 pm - All Ages

May 25, 2019 - Clouds and Shadow - Blank Park Zoo - 1:30 pm - All Ages

June 29, 2019 - International Mud Day - Blank Park Zoo - 1:30 pm - All Ages

July 27, 2019 - Insect Hunt - Easter Lake Park, Shelter #4 - 10:00 am - All Ages

August 24, 2019 - Sandcastle Building - Gray’s Lake Beach - 1:30 pm - All Ages

*Dates, times, and activities are subject to change depending on weather conditions
*Activities will be on foot.  Stroller accessibility may be limited.

Blank Park Zoo would like to thank the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for helping to support our Family Nature Club.

Blank Park Zoo would also like to thank our program partners, Polk County Conservation, Des Moines Parks and Recreation and Children and Families Urban Movement.

Interested in volunteering as a Play Assistant? Email us at

Resources for Families:

What is Child-led Play?

The Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature

A Parents’ Guide to Nature Play

10 ways to get your kids out in nature, and why it matters

Together in Nature: Pathways to a Stronger, Closer Family

Family Nature Play and You

The Adult Role in Child-led Play         

How outdoor play prepares kids for achievement in STEM

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