Former teachers Jenny Phelan and Jill Moore know that children learn by playing and exploring.
Based on this knowledge, the two local small business owners have teamed up to offer a hands-on learning experience through their Lowcountry Ecosystem Program.
Phelan is the owner of Learn Through Playing, a company that creates activity kits for children. The kits include Play-Doh, small figurines and craft supplies, and are available in a variety of themes. There’s a mermaid kit, a horse kit, a safari kit and an outer space kit, to name a few.
Moore is a certified master naturalist and the owner of Moore to Life, which offers “Lowcountry 101” presentations, as well as private nature tours by foot, boat, bike and kayak.
The combination of both women’s background in education, Phelan’s activity kits and Moore’s expertise on the local ecosystems add up to a fun learning opportunity for kids.
“What I love about these events is how exploring the kits sparks creativity regardless of the age or gender,” Moore said. “And through the discussions and exploring we have with the kids, it reinforces love and respect for our natural environment.”
The program is geared toward children ages 3 to 10 and lasts between an hour and an hour-and-a-half. Phelan and Moore said they will travel anywhere in Beaufort County to offer the class.
In June, they hosted a class at Colleton Point Landing in Rose Hill Plantation. Each child received a Learn Through Playing South Carolina activity kit, which included alligator, crab, dolphin and sea turtle figurines. As the children learned about the local environment, they were encouraged to create a marsh scene with the items in the kit, and then an ocean scene.
Then Moore led the children out to the marsh with critter catchers and nets to look for crabs, snails and other creatures.
Moore spends a good bit of time talking about alligators and how to be safe around them.
Though the program is created for children, parents and grandparents have been known to stick around for a lesson on the Lowcountry.
“People have loved it,” Phelan said. “There are a lot of newer people to the area that enjoy learning more about the crabs and the alligators, and the dolphins and the sea turtles. And the kids just have fun. They each have a different way to design their ocean scene and their marsh scene.”
To host a class for a group of kids in your neighborhood, call Phelan at 443-928-7517 or email her at email@example.com. Classes should be booked at least two months in advance. Cost is $30 per child and includes their own Learn Through Playing kit to take home.
For more information on Learn Through Playing, visit learnthroughplayingkits.com. For more information on Moore to Life, visit moore2lifesc.com.
Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.