Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How stinky is a skunk lodge? How high is a heron nest?

You may have always wondered what animal houses may be like from the inside. Kids and their families in the Chicago area may be able to answer some of your questions after visiting the Morton Arboretum's Animal Houses. The Morton Arboretum in Illinois is know widely for its 1,700 acre outdoor museum and arboretum that houses 4,117 kinds of trees, shrubs and plants from all over the world. Their children's garden is amazing and worthy of its own post. But, today I wanted to highlight one of the arboretum's award winning, outdoor exhibits, the Animal Houses.

The Raccoon Den
The Exhibit
The Morton Arboretum's exhibit was comprised of eleven whimsical, imaginative, human-scale animal dwellings. It won a well deserved Superior Achievement Award from the Illinois Association of Museums. Each exhibit provided a unique opportunity to see the world as an animal would, by exploring their houses and habitats! The exhibit was designed to help visitors learn the ways that trees provide habitat to animals, and to reinforce the importance of appreciating and protecting trees.

The Heron Nest
Animal Houses
I originally found this exhibit while doing some research on animal themed playgrounds. Animal themes seem to be very popular and have a wide variety of approaches and success rates. These exhibits were far from playgrounds. They were living laboratories for exploration. The craftsmanship looks detailed and solid, especially for a temporary exhibit. As a collection these spaces are one of a kind.
The Beaver Dam
The Hollow Log
The Spider Web
Coyote Den
Polywog Pond
Skunk Den
Which one is your favorite? Have you ever played at an animal themed play area?

Images are from the Chicago Examiner.com


  1. Great post. The Polywog Pond looks awesome. Is it intended to give you the sense of being in the pond? Looks like tons of fun. Little W thinks the Hollow Log is his favortie- a choo choo train tunnel :)

  2. I am not sure sure if you would feel like a tadpole in the polywog pond, but it seems like an enchanting place anyway. One if the great things about nature play is that is leaves room for creativity and imagination! It sounds like your little one is on the right track.


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