“Here! You carry these ones, and I’ll get the rest!” my daughter ordered her twin sister, handing her an upside-down giant building brick stacked full of squishy foam acorns. She then scooped as many acorns as she could into her own shirt, and the two charged off, up the series of ramps to the giant red mushroom, to start popping them down the hole to the squirrel midden below.

Tegler Discovery Zone

The squishy foam acorns at the Tegler Discovery Zone, photo by Jill Footz

If you’ve ever been to the Tegler Discovery Zone at the John Janzen Nature Centre the above paragraph likely makes perfect sense to you. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of exploring this unique Edmonton gem, then, no doubt, you think I’m completely off my rocker.

Telger Discovery Zone

The giant mushroom at the Tegler Discovery Zone, photo by Jill Footz

The Tegler Discovery Zone is the nature-themed indoor playground at the John Janzen. Set one foot into it, and you’ll feel a little like you’re on the set of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”. The world you’re in is now one of giant tree roots, epic flower petals and an oversized mushroom, a massive beaver dam and the aforementioned squirrel midden, all supervised stoically by an enormous queen bee.

Tegler Discovery Zone

The queen bee supervises from above, photo by Jill Footz

This is not your typical commercial indoor playground with neon colours and super slides. This is a place where the imagination will get as much of a workout as the legs!

Tegler Discovery Zone

Climb the snowbank, photo by Jill Footz

Kids climb through the maze-like bee hive, tromp up and down the rock-like cave stairs, and slide precariously down a snowbank. They splash in the trickle of water coming from the beaver dam, fight over who gets the most acorns, and pluck petals from the flower garden.

Tegler Discovery Zone

Your kids won’t stop moving! Photo by Jill Footz

Most of all, they will move. Up and down and in and out. Over, under and through. And if you can get them to stop for a handful of seconds, you might be able to sneak in a tiny science lessons, from the many signs posted around the zone, or from the corner bee display that includes honeycombs, nests and sometimes even, real live encased bees!

Tegler Discovery Zone

Fun facts are posted all over! Photo by Jill Footz

Parents of younger tots especially will want to follow along on the adventure – particularly when it comes to stairs. I distinctly remember the perilous feeling watching much tinier toddlers who insisted on still going up and down “by myself!”

Tegler Discovery Zone

Parents, watch your heads! Low cave ceilings and tree branches everywhere! Photo by Jill Footz

A trip to the Tegler Discovery Zone can fill your John Janzen Centre visit in itself, but there’s much more to this great facility than just a cool indoor playground! Don’t forget to pop into the Exhibit Room, or time your visit to take advantage of an organized nature walk or drop-in program. Pack along appropriate outdoor gear for the season to make the most of the Centre’s great location, nestled right in the heart of Edmonton’s glorious river valley.

Tegler Discovery Zone

Grow your own garden. Photo by Jill Footz

The Tegler Discovery Zone:

When: Open 363 days per year!
Time: Monday to Sunday 9 am to 4 pm, Holidays 11 am to 4 pm
Where: John Janzen Nature Centre, 7000 – 143 Street, Edmonton (map)
Cost: Tot (0-23 months) $3, Child (2-12 years) $8, (each tot or child admission includes one free adult to actively supervise), Additional Parent $3, General Admission (13 years+) $8, Family $17
Website: www.edmonton.ca