At the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, they try to create programming experiences that feel special and are crafted for the interests and abilities of the children’s age that learn in their environment. They do that by focusing on age appropriate physical activity and finding a balance between active and more passive activities. They don’t focus on facts – too many facts is just boring. Instead they use stories – vivid, emotional narratives that help us understand how it all fits together (and sometimes they even have facts in them)!
It’s also about creating opportunities for unstructured learning, with games and activities where the kids are in the driver’s seat. Sometimes those games are about hiding, sneaking, running and more. Sometimes it’s just some spare time after lunch. They are constantly reminding ourselves that children don’t see things the way we adults do – that a muskox is cool, but sometimes the bug on the ground is cooler. Their programming reflects that, preferring the immediate, touchable experience to the look from afar experience. Either way, we tap into child passions – those things we love(d) to do as kids – and draw kids to their edges.
Natural Pod furniture reflected the philosophy of learning they embrace at the Preserve. Rather than creating a high energy, brightly coloured space we were able to create a space that mirrored the natural outdoor experience – calm, reflective, tactile with room for creative, unstructured (and of course, some high energy) play. They wanted to create a space that said: “this is for you”. It’s amazing how a low table has kids feeling right at home, but also how it helps the adults in the room to focus on what’s important! Adjustable tables have enabled them to welcome audiences of all sizes and ages. Their space is constantly changing – from school programs to nature camps and from training sessions to weddings. Natural Pod furniture helps make every one of those transitions gracefully. Almost everybody who has walked into the Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s Learning Centre have said “Wow, what an amazing space.”