The Darien Nature Center offers a variety of programs this winter for children of all ages.

Starting with the youngest, the Nature Center offers three different programs for 2-year-olds. The first, a mom and me program called Knee-Hi to Nature, is offered Monday through Friday at 9:45 and 11 a.m. Moms and tots will learn about the wonders of winter, do fun craft projects and have their first introduction to the Nature Center animals. This program begins on Monday, Jan. 3, and runs through June 10. Children may attend one day per week only.

This year we're also offering two drop-off programs for 2-year-olds. Nature Time for Two's is an nature discovery program that runs Mondayto Friday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Animals in winter is the theme for this year's program. Animal ABC's ... 123, is offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to noon. Children will learn their ABC's and 123's while learning about animals. Both programs being on Jan. 3 and run through June 10. Children may sign up for each program one day per week only.

For 3 and 4 and 5 year olds, the Nature Center offers its ever-popular Nature's Playroom. Offered Monday through Friday in the mornings and afternoons, children may be registered for one day per week only. The morning program runs from 9:30 to 11:45 a.m. and the afternoon sessions run from 1:30 to 3:45. p.m. How animals survive winter and fun in the snow is all part of the fun. These seasonal themes are played out through interaction with animals, nature stories, crafts, trail walks and more. This drop-off program, designed to complement a child's nursery school experience, will run through spring and starts Jan. 3.

New this winter is a special "meet the animals " program for 3- 4- and 5-year-olds -- Critters and Kids. Offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 am to noon, in this program children will get up close and personal with the Nature Center's array of animals -- from snakes and lizards to bunnies and birds. Children may sign up for this program one day per week only.

Afterschool programs are also going strong. Animals Caretaker's Club for children in first through sixth grades, will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3:45 to 4:45. Children will help feed, exercise and care for the Nature Center's full menagerie of fascinating animals from around the world. The session will end with a presentation by the children on their favorite animal.

In response to the Nature Center's popular "Secret World of Fairies" exhibit, they'recontinuing our fall fairy house workshop with "Fun with Fairies," to be offered on Tuesday and Thursday from 3:45 to 5 p.m. Imagination, spirit and creativity are the hallmarks of this fun class, which begins on Jan. 4 and runs through March 31. This program is ideal for children in first through fourth grades.

Survivor, another favorite among kids who love the outdoors, will continue on Wednesdays from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. Facing the challenges of winter and learning survival skills is all part of the fun. This class is for children in fourth- and fifth-grades.

With the holiday season fast approaching, the Nature Center is also offering two Saturday holiday ornament workshops for children ages 3 to 7 Children will gather nature's gifts from the outdoors and make beautiful ornaments for the family tree.

These workshops are to be held on Dec. 4 and Dec. 18, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Last but not least, the Nature Center is offering its fun, vacation programs. Starting in December, Snowbirds will run from Dec. 20 to 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Holiday cooking and crafts are on the agenda for this seasonal program which serves 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds.

In February, they'll be offering a vacation program during February break, to be followed in spring with Crickets. These vacation classes are open to children ages 4 to 7 years old.

For program registration and information, contact the Darien Nature Center at 203-655-7459.