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About Us

Playful Acorns emerged in 2023 from the desire to create meaningful connections between kids, caregivers, nature, and the community. Join us as we gather and grow throughout the changing seasons of our lives!

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Photo by Jessica Skarlupka

Our Story

Story

With my mom in 1992.

Photo by my dad.

The concept behind Playful Acorns wouldn't exist without the generations of caregivers who came before me. My mom nurtured a love of the outdoors in me, just as her mom did in her. And I intend to do the same with my daughter. Maybe she won't be a bird nerd like me or a nature nut like her grandma. But, if her fascination for finding pinecones, stones, leaves, walnuts, and -- you guessed it -- acorns is any indication, she is already picking up some valuable life lessons: slow down, be present, and enjoy the simple things. I feel a deep calling to meet others where they are in the journey of parenthood and grow side by side as we learn from each other, our kids, and nature.

- Sam Haas

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With my daughter in 2022.

Photo by Jessica Fiess-Hill.

Our Vision

Vision

Caregivers need opportunities to fill their own cups to be fully present with and responsive to their kids, and Playful Acorns hopes to make that easier for them to do. For some people, that looks like a literal cup of coffee to jumpstart their day. For others, that means finding a quiet moment in nature or moving their bodies to feel centered and ready for whatever comes their way.

Taking care of kids is hard work. It's not all rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes it can feel incredibly isolating, overwhelming, and as though you're losing parts of yourself along the way. We aren't meant to do this alone.

If you've been wanting to gather with those who "get it" in a place that fosters your child(ren)'s curiosity, you're in good company. Playful Acorns was created for those who are craving connection with more caregivers and the healthy benefits of being immersed in the natural world, all while their kids play and socialize together. 

Our Values

Values

At Playful Acorns, we value the following be(leafs):

  • Nature benefits from diversity, and so does humanity.

  • Children learn best through play. 

  • Everyone deserves to have fun and be respected.

  • Life is a journey, and we are always growing.

  • The world is a better place with you in it.

So, whether you're parenting solo or with a partner, providing care as a grandparent or nanny, or any other version of your village, this community embraces you and the kids you love. Come as you are.*

* (If you're not feeling well, please stay home, rest up, and we'll see you next time!) 

If there's anything we can do to be more inclusive, please let us know. Thank you!

Hello!

Meet the creator and owner of Playful Acorns

Hi! I'm Sam Haas (she/her/hers), and my family and I live in Madison (which occupies the ancestral lands of the Ho-Chunk Nation). I grew up exploring the woods around my family's farm and cabin in Wisconsin, and I've been fascinated by nature ever since. 

 

Experiencing the world from other perspectives is something I thought I understood as a writer and photographer, but it wasn't until I became an auntie and then a mama that I realized the true joy of witnessing kids explore their surroundings, play, and learn new things each day. 

What fills my cup? Spending time with my family, reading a book while curled up with my cats, going outside for photo walks and bike rides, writing children's picture books, and witnessing the special bond between kids and their caregivers. Hope to see you soon!

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Photo by Jessica Fiess-Hill

Meet Us

Our Partners and Programs

Coming Soon!

Our Partners

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Where our first Pop-Up Play Cafe was held at 2020 Main Street, Cross Plains.

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Neighboring cafe of The Creekside Scoop, also owned by entrepreneur Katy Ripp.

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We've held some free activities in collaboration with Dane County Parks staff and Friends groups.

Partners

Our Partners and Programs

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Sam and other hike hosts volunteer to lead walks with caregivers and their young kids in the Dane County area.

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The nonprofit partner of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail that runs through Dane County. Monty the Mammoth mascot joined us for a hike near their Cross Plains headquarters.

Our Partners and Programs

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We offered our first "Mini and Me"' yoga classes with little om BIG OM, owned by Jamie Gale.

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Located at Lunney Lake Farm Park, this center hosts our Pop-Up Play Cafe and a StoryWalk®.

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Our partner in offering programs at Lakeview Park, which features trails, playgrounds, and shelters.

Our Partners and Programs

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Julie Mazer leads our third Friday of the month music classes at Orchard Ridge UCC in Madison.

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Mount Horeb author Elizabeth Seeliger wrote "Big Feelings," our first interactive StoryWalk® book. 

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Located across from Fireman's Park in Verona, this coffee/bike shop hosts our Pop-Up Play Cafe.

Our Partners and Programs

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Based in Cross Plains, this library held a nature craft and StoryWalk® with us in fall 2023.

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Head baker bee Gretchen Becker leads decorating classes like our Cozy Winter Cookies collaboration.

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Angie Richter owns The Wonder Studio, which leads interactive and fun Kindermusik classes.

Looking to partner with us? Reach out!
Get Involved

Local Coffee Sponsorship Opportunity

We're looking to partner with a coffee / tea / cider / hot chocolate sponsor for our classes! We want to keep it hyperlocal to our program sites (especially because drinks need to stay hot) -- currently Middleton and south side of Madison -- so please let us know the name of your favorite coffee shops in the area and why you love them. Based on the responses, we'll find out if these businesses would be willing to donate some drinks to-go for caregivers on a weekly basis or as part of a rotation. We're all about collaboration over competition, so if multiple businesses step up they'll each get a turn in the spotlight on our print and web advertising and social media. If you're reading this and you personally would like to sponsor coffee by reimbursing our costs, you are AWESOME. We'd love to hear from you, too. :)

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