• Becky Boyce Nature Play Space

  • Time spent with nature enhances our well-being and provides abundant opportunities for learning. This principle is the foundation of The Becky Boyce Nature Play Space. The ample pathways and open spaces encourage child-driven learning in a safe outdoor area designed especially for young children. The garden spaces highlight native, pollinator-friendly plants and vegetable growing, allowing children to take on active roles as environmental stewards, learning how pollinator-friendly plants can positively impact insects, birds, and animals in our local ecosystem.

    The materials found in this exhibit capitalize on the fact that children are naturally inquisitive and curious to learn how things work. Through nature exploration, young children will learn about science, math, art, and literacy. Children will exercise curiosity and critical thinking skills, as well as, large and small motor skill development, while embarking on educational adventures and sensory play using the natural materials in this space.

    The exhibit opened in June 2021, thanks to the combined efforts and support from many community members.
    – Nevin Hedlund, Nevin Hedlund Architects
    – Bob Lee, Robert E. Lee and Sons Co.
    – Dennis Marani, Marani Land Services
    – Mike McCarthy, McCarthy Brothers Co.
    – John Minich & Boy Scout Troop 16
    – Bob Planek, Oak Park Apartments
    – Rachel and Kyle Rettberg for establishing “The Rebecca ‘Becky’ Boyce Memorial Garden Fund”
    – Donors to the Rebecca ‘Becky’ Boyce Memorial Garden Fund
    – Donors to the 2021 Wonderivia Paddle Raise

    In 2020, longtime friends and supporters of Wonder Works Children’s Museum, Kyle and Rachel Rettberg, generously committed a five-year pledge to support the expansion of the outdoor play and learning space at Wonder Works. With the Rettberg’s pledge, the Rebecca “Becky” Boyce Memorial Garden Fund was established. The Rettberg Family pledged this support to create a physical space that would both celebrate Becky’s life and honor her memory.

    In December 2019, the Rettberg family learned the tragic news that Rachel’s beloved sister, Rebecca Boyce, had been diagnosed with motor neuron disease (what we typically call ALS in the U.S.). Becky died in her home in England on March 30, 2020, at the age of 53.

    Mourning is always tough; mourning a life taken far too soon is even tougher; and mourning during a pandemic that prevents you from grieving in person with the ones you love is tougher yet. The pandemic did, however, provide Kyle and Rachel with some time to consider how to honor Becky’s life here in the U.S. They decided that supporting their favorite local children’s museum, Wonder Works, would be the best way to do so. Becky loved children; she, and her husband of more than 30 years, had four amazing children of their own. She spent her professional life working as a Learning Support Specialist with a specialty in supporting children on the Autism Spectrum. Becky loved art and worked in mixed media, and she loved gardens, spending as much time as possible in her own. Wonder Works supports and fosters all of Becky’s interests. Becky also dearly loved her sister, and Wonder Works and its mission of helping children develop through play remain close to Rachel’s heart.

    Wonder Works Children’s Museum is honored to be a steward of the Rebecca “Becky” Boyce Memorial Garden Fund and we are thrilled children will be inspired to explore, create, learn, and play in the Becky Boyce Nature Play Space for years to come!