Weekend Family Fun!

March 26th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Get outside and explore the Botanic Gardens by day or by night with these new family-friendly hikes.

Park in the Dark

Night Hike ImageNight time is special at the Arboretum – the people and cars are gone, and the nocturnal animals move about. Night hikes are a chance for us to explore our senses, search for crepuscular and nocturnal movements in the forest and learn about night-related animal adaptations. Programs are designed for families with children aged 5-12 and run from 7:30-9pm on the 2nd Saturday of the month. Meet at the Graham Visitors Center!
Cost is $8/person
Register online or call 206-685-8033


  • July 11, 8:30-10pm
  • July 25, 8:00-9:30pm
  • August 8, 8:00-9:30pm
  • August 22, 7:30-9:00pm


Family Nature Walks

Family Nature Walks focus on discovering the wonders of nature through fun and engaging activities, games, and exploration. Search for mushrooms, pretend to be a pollinator, or spot birds using binoculars!  This class is best suited for families with children ages 5-12. Walks will continue rain or shine (hopefully shine!) – dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes that can get wet or dirty. The walks start at 10:30, the 3rd Saturday of the month and are 90 minutes long. Meet at the Graham Visitors Center!

Cost: $7/person (kids 3 and under are free, so don’t count them toward your payment)
Register online or call 206-685-8033

Themes (all programs are from 10:30am-12pm)

Winter with Fiddleheads Nature Class

January 27th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Investigating a spider sighting




The winter session of Fiddleheads Family Nature Class is in full swing this month, despite the weather. Preschoolers aged 2-5 are learning how winter is special, what a skeleton is, what a fossil is and how they form, and even delving into a little chemistry! Every week is a different theme with fun new activities to get you and your little one interested in science, nature, and the world around us.




Taking a closer look at a slug

Taking a closer look at a slug



Classes are Tuesday-Thursday mornings from 10am-12pm with a special Wednesday afternoon session from 1:30-3:30pm for preschoolers ages 4-5.

More information on price, time, discounts, location, and topics.

Call 206-685-8033 or email uwbgeduc@uw.edu for more information.



What lives in a pond?

What lives in a pond?



Upcoming topics:
I Can Be a Scientist! – February 3-5

Trees Grow Up, Too – February 10-12

How Animals Move – February 24-26

Spying With Our Eyes – March 3-5

Sounds of the Forest – March 10-12

Fun In the Mud – March 17-19

Snails, Slugs, and Slimy Things – March 24-26















Fiddleheads Winter Series

December 19th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

A new year brings new faces, fresh starts, and a new Fiddleheads series! Join Teacher Kate this winter in exploring the Washington Park Arboretum using all of our senses. Each week will be a different theme including:


  • Rain, Water and Mud!
  • Ice and Snow
  • Hibernation
  • Nature Through Our Noses
  • Sounds of the Forest
  • Roots, Shoots, and Bark
  • Decomposers Are My Friends
  • I Can Be A Scientist
  • Dinosaurs and Fossils
  • Signs of Spring
  • Turtles, Beavers, and Wetlands
  • How Animals Move


So this winter, join us for a class of nature connection activities and outdoor play. Each week’s activities include art projects, games, learning stations focusing on fine and gross motor and pre-literacy skills based around the theme, as well as hiking and exploring the park and letting the children’s interests lead the way. Fun for parents and their preschoolers!

Classes meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays from 10am-12pm at the Washington Park Arboretum. More information about the classes.

$18/class for 1 adult and 1 child. Additional child: $9/class.

Discount for 6 or more classes! ($14/class, $7 for additional child)

Register online or call 206.685.8033



For the Younger Set: Spring Break Camp at the Arboretum

March 27th, 2012 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

photo of kids outdoorsFULL FOR 2012

Come join us for a week of spring time explorations, investigations and adventures. We will become nature detectives looking for signs of spring. What are the birds telling us? What are the plants doing? Where are the animals hanging out? We will look for clues while playing games, doing spring-themed crafts, reading and telling stories, and adventuring through the Arboretum. The camp runs April 16-20, 9am-3pm (before and after care available if 6 or more campers sign up). The cost is $225 ($200 for Arboretum Foundation members). Visit the Spring Break Camp page for more information or call (206) 221-6427.

Where in the Arboretum is this?

February 22nd, 2012 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

The Washington Park Arboretum is full of quiet nooks, unusual plants, and hidden groves where our imagination can run free and our curiosity is hooked.  Bring your family and come find this special spot!

Sequoia trees in the Pinetum collection

Who are they? This is a grove of sequoia trees, also known as:

 Giant sequoia – Sierra redwood – Sequoiadendron giganteum – big-tree – mammoth-tree


Did you know?

These giant trees are all more than 70 years old and the tallest is 139 feet tall and 13 feet and 11 inches round.

The word “sequoia” contains all five vowels.

This quiet grove of sequoia trees is a favorite destination of our school groups and summer camps. We might play meet-a-tree or hide-and-seek, or eat our lunch in their shade or discover how trees grow and reproduce, and act out a tree’s life cycle.


To find this place you have to cross this:

Photo of the wilcox bridge


And walk to the left of this:

 Photo of the play structure


Why don’t you come and visit these friendly giants? You could:

  • Play hide and seek
  • Feel their bark and find a cone
  • Have a picnic underneath these mysterious mammoths
  • Find out how many humans it takes to wrap around one
  • Read a story sitting against one of their trunks (all available at CUH’s Miller Library)
    • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
    • A Grand Old Tree by Mary Newell DePalma
    • Ancient Ones: The World of the Old-Growth Douglas Fir by Barbara Bash
    • A Tree is Growing by Arthur Dorros


  • Act out the life cycle of a tree!

Become a seed (curl up in a tight ball) – Now sprout! (Uncurl and kneel) – Grow a branch by sticking out one of your arms – Grow another branch, stick out the other arm – Grow leaves (wiggle your fingers) = Grow tall (stand up, feet together) – Grow roots (spread your feet apart) – Grow rootlets (wiggle your toes) – Oh no! You are being attacked by insects and fungi (start scratching all over – Lose a limb to lighting (make a loud noise and put your arm by your side) – Become a home for wildlife (smile!) – Woodpeckers looking for insects start exploring your dead wood (make a knocking noise) – You are blown down (make a creaking noise and fall down) – Become a nurse log, a new seed sprouts from rotting wood (stick one arm up).


  • Play a game!

I Like Trees

One person stands in the middle and everyone else finds a tree to stand in front of. Have each person mark their tree by putting a bandana, backpack or other visible item in front of it. The person standing in the middle (not next to a tree) says “I like___” and fills in the blank with something they like (could be about trees, or anything!). If other people like that thing too then they leave their tree and have to find another tree to touch (one with a marking in front of it). The person who called out “I like ____” also tries to find a tree to stand in front of. One person will be left without a tree and then it is their turn to stand in the middle and say “I like___” about something. Keep playing until everyone has had a turn in the middle.


Tree Tag

This is a great game for younger kids. Have each kid pick a tree. Maybe encourage them to get to know their tree a bit before the game starts. When you say “tree” or “sequoia” (or whatever word you decide to be the “go” word) the kids run and touch another tree. Do this over and over and the kids will love running from tree to tree and waiting for you to call out the word. Mix it up a little and say other words to help build the anticipation before you say your “go” word.



Jacobson, A. L. (2006). Trees of seattle. (2nd ed., pp. 362-363). Seattle: Arthur Lee Jacobson.


The value of getting kids outside

February 8th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

I had the pleasure of attending the NW Flower & Garden Show Preview Gala last night, hosted by the Arboretum Foundation in partnership with Seattle Audubon. It was a good time and I was given the honor or saying a few words to drum up donor support for the UWBG Education & Outreach Program here at the Arb. One of the questions that Dick, the emcee, fired my way had to do with the value of getting kids outside into places like the WPA. I fumbled a bit, but said something about how being in nature can at once calm the mind while stimulating it, and how volumes have been written about the benefits associated with being outdoors.
I thought about this question some more on my bike ride to work this morning (when I normally do my best thinking). It dawned on me that the ultimate goal of environmental education has got to be establishing a sense of belonging to something bigger than oneself – to feel a kinship with the world around us. We humans are not above or separate from life on earth; we’re merely part of it, “cogs in a wheel” as Aldo Leopold would say.
The value of getting kids outside and allowing them to explore the world around them is crucial in establishing this kinship. When it doesn’t happen, a disconnect results and we end up with a citizenry that thinks food comes from grocery stores, and energy from light switches. We end up with economies based on perpetual growth that don’t calculate true costs and carrying capacities. And we end up with governments that only look out for their own best interests; forests, reefs, and ice-caps be damned! Contrary to popular practice, natural resources like clean air/water/soil, petroleum/wood/fish, are not limitless. Those who see the birds and trees as equals know this and act accordingly, but unfortunately, we are a minority.
But we’re still here and we’re recruiting! If you’re picking up what I’m putting down, join us in any way that works for you. Send your kids to our upcoming Spring Break Camp; take a Weekend Walk with us any Sunday of the month; volunteer with us to lead School Fieldtrips or remove invasive weeds; become an Arboretum Foundation member; or simply step outside and take a hike! John Muir perhaps said it best, “in every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” And after receiving, think about how you can give back to ensure that generations to come have something to receive as well.