Member Spotlight

Photo credit: St. Louis Zoo Preschool

Photo credit: St. Louis Zoo Preschool

Get to know more about the Saint Louis Zoo Preschool, a Reggio-inspired, nature-based preschool, which opened in 2014. Read More
Notchcliff Forest Preschool and Forest Kinder Co-op are nature programs offered by the Eastern Region of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS) that, like most other nature-based programs, have adapted to serve families and children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More

Photo credit: Camp STEM Club

At Camp STEM Club in Gilbert, AZ, small groups of children learn in a desert oasis all while practicing coping skills, exploring STEM concepts, and having fun. Learn more about the program in a Q&A with director Carolyn Mowery. Read More
Photo credit: MCCC

Photo credit: MCCC

Mid-Columbia Children’s Council Tygh Valley site moved entirely outdoors in 2020. We spoke with the COO to learn how they continue to meet licensing requirements and Head Start learning domains in the fully outdoor classroom. Read More
Photo credit: Durham Community Preschool

Photo credit: Durham Community Preschool

Durham Community Preschool transitioned to a 100% outdoor model this year as a solution to continue in-person learning during the pandemic. The lessons they learned will stick with them well beyond this school year. Read More
Learn how the University of Delaware Lab School, which added a nature preschool program in 2017, supports the growth and development of University students while serving children, families, and their community. Read More
Photo credit: Imua Inclusion Preschool

Photo credit: Imua Inclusion Preschool

Imua Inclusion Preschool is a place-based preschool on the Hawaiian Island of Maui, where every child’s social, emotional, physical, and educational needs are met through individualized instruction. Read More
Photo credit: Takoma Park Cooperative

Photo credit: Takoma Park Cooperative

Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School in Maryland, like many schools, is on a journey to create a more just, equitable learning community for their students and families. Hear from the school's director, Lesley Romanoff, to learn more about Takoma Park's story. Read More
Aventuras Forest School is a 100% outdoors, Spanish-language immersion forest school set primarily in public parks in Los Angeles. Learn more about the program from the school’s founder, Pilar Gonzalez. Read More

Photo credit: Bend Forest School

Learn how Bend Forest School, a nature immersion early childhood program on 200 acres in Oregon, places emotional literacy at the center of its practices. Read More
Diona Reese Williams is an Early Childhood Education Professor at a tribal college in Arizona, an active member of the Arizona Association for Environmental Education (AAEE), the owner and founder of Out Back Learning LLC, and the creator of the podcast, Black in Nature. In our July Member Spotlight, we learn more about Diona, her home-based nature preschool, and her goals for early childhood education in Arizona. Read More
Educating Children Outdoors (ECO) is a nature immersion program developed by the North Branch Nature Center and designed for students in preschool up to 6th grade. Founded in 2009, the program has impacted more than a dozen public schools, over 100 educators, and many more students. In our May Member Spotlight, Amy Butler shares how ECO has evolved over the last 10 years. Read More

Photo credit: Eyes of the World Nature Immersion

Dawn Jenkins founded Eyes of the World Nature Immersion in January 2019. Among her program offerings is a roaming forest preschool that meets in various state parks and land trusts in York County, Maine. Dawn was able to secure a unique insurance policy that may interest other forest preschool programs. Read More

Photo by: Cincinnati Nature Center Preschool

The Cincinnati Nature Center Preschool is a nature-based program licensed through the state of Ohio. Learn more about their journey to becoming a five-star program and how they made the decision to expand to K-2nd grade this fall. Read More

Photo credit: Frazer Center

The Frazer Center’s Child Development Program places inclusion at the heart of its mission. Nestled in an old-growth forest in the heart of Atlanta, Frazer Center is on a journey to develop a forest-based curriculum that would give more children in Atlanta the opportunity to experience the natural world. Read More
Learn about The Planet Discovery Centre, a nature-based program in Gujarat, India. At The Planet, children learn to care for themselves and the world around them, building a foundation for lifelong environmental literacy. Read More
Brooklyn Park Nature Preschool sets equity and inclusion as one of their primary program goals. Nearly 40% of students enrolled are children of color and 15% of families receive some form of financial aid. Read their Member Spotlight to learn how they approach equity and inclusion and what advice they have for other nature preschools. Read More
Red Oaks Forest School was built on a simple idea—spend more time in nature. It has since grown to include a variety of nature immersion programs that support the needs of the community. In our September Member Spotlight, learn more about how nature-based early learning is taking root in Eastern Kentucky. Read More

Photo by: Cibolo Nature School

Cibolo Nature School in Boerne, Texas, provides nature and place-based learning to children ages 3-5 with a curriculum inspired by Montessori, Reggio, and Waldorf methodologies. Learn more about their approach to risk management and serving their diverse community. Read More
At Dondero Elementary, Forest Fridays began with just two classrooms exploring the wooded area behind their school. Today, more than half of the schools' classes participate and the two teachers who started the program hope sharing their experience can help others begin similar programs in public schools. Read More
This NAEYC-accredited, West Philadelphia program connects children to nature rain or shine and helps other Philadelphia educators incorporate outdoor play and learning into their own programs. Read More
With five licensed nature preschools, Mass Audubon serves as a leader in New England in the nature-based early learning movement. Read More
After being approached by their state licensor in 2016, the Squaxin Island Child Development Center began their journey to open their first licensed, outdoor preschool class. The outdoor program has already expanded to include two classes, with a growing waiting list. Read More
Juniper Hill School for Place-Based Education opened in 2011 on 42 acres of beautiful, nature-rich landscape. This landscape serves as more than a backdrop to learning. Students learn from and about the landscape, establishing a lifelong connection with the land. Read More
Now Nature School was founded on the idea that children learn best when nature is one of their teachers. Located in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, the curriculum highlights the diversity and cultural richness of the school’s community and natural environment. Read More
Elements Preschool was created to provide children living in the heart of NYC with daily access to nature and nature-based activities and education. Read More

Image credit: ForestKinder

Eliza Minnucci founded a public school kindergarten Forest Day program and now team-teaches and leads professional development to help other teachers take their students outside. Read More
Dublin, OH, is committed to providing the best quality of life and environment to its 40,000+ residents. We were intrigued to learn about the city's many nature-based programs for young children and asked Barbara Ray, Dublin's Nature Education Coordinator, to tell us more about them! Read More
A popular early childhood program of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Campbell Creek Science Center in Anchorage, AK, was recently expanded with the help of a local preschool teacher. Read More
The 40-acre Woodend Nature Sanctuary, just minutes from Washington, DC, is the headquarters of the Audubon Naturalist Society as well as the home of the Audubon Nature Preschool. Read More
Nature Nuts runs a year-round Forest School for young children in Maple Valley, WA. The school has recently been accredited in the Cedarsong Way Teaching Methodology. We asked the school's Lead Instructor, Brenda Running, to tell us more about it. Read More
Empowering people to respect, protect, and enjoy the natural world is central to the mission of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and its programs in Monona, WI, including the Wonder Bugs Preschool Program. Read More
Every year, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science welcomes 100,000 visitors to its trails, exhibits, and collections. An increasing number of those visitors bring along young children to climb a tree in the Preschool Room, play with puppets, visit animal habitats, and listen to captivating stories under the guidance of preschool education staff. Find out how early childhood programs fit into the Museum's mission and what advice the Museum has for other natural science institutions that want to better serve young children and their caregivers. Read More
The Center for Nature and Place-based Early Childhood Education is a teacher preparation and professional development initiative based at Prescott College in the central highlands of Arizona. Read More
SHP Leading Design provides architectural design, planning, engineering, and other services to educational institutions and other clients. We asked Ed Melvin, Landscape Architect, and John Noble, Project Architect, to tell us about their approach to the design of spaces for learning in early childhood. Read More
We asked Dr. Yashwant Bhagwanji, the Executive Editor of the International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education's, about the influences behind his work and some of his exciting plans for the future. Read More
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts uses nature to promote children's development and growth. We asked the museum's Early Childhood Education Programs Coordinator to tell us more about their approach and share some lessons learned with similar institutions interested in increasing their nature-based early learning offerings. Read More
An E-STEM public school district near Minneapolis now also offers half-day nature preschool programs. We were naturally curious to find out more! We asked Anna Dutke, Nature Preschool Teacher and the programs’ developer, to share with us the impetus behind the programs and any advice she gives to new teachers. Read More

Photo by Ethan Harrison

Bija is a holistic early childhood program in New York with a focus on mindfulness, the arts, social justice work, food, and farming. Its founder and director, Lauren Maples, shares some tips and examples for incorporating mindfulness into any early childhood program. Read More
Check out this new program and their emphasis on family and health! Tiny Explorers is a program presented by the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon. Tiny Explorers encourages new parents to kickstart a healthy life enjoying the outdoors by getting their little ones outdoors starting at a young age. Read More
The PlayGarden is a safe, supportive, accessible, and innovative place for children of all abilities. Read More
A preschool in Duluth, MN fosters self-directed play, confidence, and a strong sense of self in relationship with nature and the community. Read More
An early childhood environmental education program on the shores of Lake Michigan fosters learning and an appreciation for nature among dunes, beaches, and ravines. Read More

Peter Dargatz

Peter Dargatz is a nature kindergarten teacher at Woodside Elementary, a public school in Sussex, Wisconsin Read More
Meet Rebecca Wolf, director of the brand new Forest Nursery program at Queens Botanical Garden in Queens, NY. Read More

Dodge Nature Preschool

We sat down with preschool director Marty Watson to learn more about this long-running program, and glean some words of wisdom for new programs. Read More
St. Louis's first forest school, Raintree School, launched the Missouri ParkLAND Project to get every Missouri child to the wild lands of their local park. Read More

Lia Johnson

We sat down with Lia Johnson, the founder and director of Little Tree Huggers, the first bilingual eco-green preschool in Leesburg, Virginia. Read More

Hooper Elementary

An outdoor classroom is bringing nature-based learning to this large, urban elementary school in Los Angeles. Read More

Everyday Explorers ELC

In a remote fishing hub in Alaska, Sarah Phillips created an unconventional preschool where children spend long hours outdoors in grand spaces. Read More
Travel writer, nature guide, and parent Dan Szczesny shares how his baby toured remote regions of India with grace and charm, but drew the line on the back of a water buffalo. Read More
Woodland Star International School is situated among lush tea fields in Kenya's highlands. The school is Reggio Emilia inspired and takes a project approach to learning so that children can explore nature and sustainability. Read More

Turning Sun School

Turning Sun School, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and place-based education. The children, teachers, and parents work together on year-long projects following the methods of the project approach. Read More

Friends' School

At Boulder, Colorado's Friends’ School, outdoor experiences are considered a vital part of the school day. Read More
At Gilbert Elementary, children start in forest kindergarten and continue their learning with connections to nature and the environment through fifth grade. Read More
Preschoolers roam Golden Gate National Park with Lauryn Smith Demyanovich, lead preschool teacher for NatureBridge. From summer camps to preschool field trips, she helps preschoolers learn to love their public lands. Read More

Child's Play Family Child Care

At Child's Play Family Child Care in Connecticut, children and adults are invited into an outdoor play and learning space that's Nature Explore certified and created to nurture both children and adults. Read More

San Antonio Zoo

San Antonio Zoo has been home to nature-based preschool and nature play area for over ten years. Read More
Author and consultant Herb Broda helps teachers use nature and the outdoors as a classroom. Read More
Outdoor education specialist Amy Beam shares the nature awareness programs she's developed in Maryland. Read More
Tiny Trees is planning to open six forest preschools in parks across Seattle. Read More

Brooklyn Forest School

Brooklyn Forest offers classes in New York City parks for young children and their caregivers. Read More

Mountain Village Charter School

Mountain Village Charter Schools is America's first nature-based and Montessori public elementary school, and one of the first schools to bring nature-based education to the elementary levels. Read More

Photo by Vogel Alcove

Vogel Alcove is the only comprehensive early childhood education program in the city of Dallas whose primary focus is to provide childcare and case management for children and families referred by emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters, and organizations that serve homeless families. The Backyard at Vogel Alcove is a natural playground enhanced with garden areas that serve therapeutic and educational goals. Read More

Nike Child Development Center

The Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, is home to the Nike Child Development Program (NCDP), which reflects Nike’s commitment to sustainable practices and active lifestyles. Read More

The Blue Waves Preschool

The Blue Waves Preschool is located on the coast of Kuwait, and brings children outdoors to enjoy, and learn to protect, their seaside home daily. Read More
Nature Nuts is a Maine-based family nature club, completely designed and taught by parents. The club is in its second generation, having been started for the first time in 1984 by parents who wanted their girls to have the same opportunities that boys had in learning about nature. Read More
The Environmental Nature Center is developing Newport Beach, California’s first nature-based preschool. Although students will do most of their learning and playing outside, when they do spend time inside, it will be in a sustainable “green building” certified by the US Green Building Council. Read More

South Shore Natural Science Center

The Nature Center Preschool at the South Shore Natural Science Center in Norwell, Massachusetts, uses 30 acres of conservation land and an onsite museum to help each child learn and grow in all areas of development while gaining a love and respect for the natural world. Read More
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is a nearly 15,000-acre, privately owned preserve that seeks to creatively explore the connections between nature, science, and art. In 2012, Bernheim launched the Children at Play Initiative, a regional coalition of people and organizations focused on connecting more children to nature. Read More
The Chicago Zoological Society's Hamill Family Play Zoo at Brookfield Zoo engages families in child-centered nature play. Educators from a variety of backgrounds can learn from the zoo's "play partners" in the NatureStart professional development program. Read More
Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an award-winning environmental education program that includes curriculum and professional development for early childhood environmental education. Read More

Eyes of the World Discovery Center

When children arrive at the Eyes of the World Discovery Center in Kittery, Maine, they are greeted with a welcoming community that encourages them to explore, imagine, and learn in the natural world around them. Read More

Natural Beginnings students enjoying the extended Illinois winter.

Natural Beginnings Early Childhood program has grown exponentially since its inception nearly three years ago. While yet a relatively new nature-based educational program, Natural Beginnings is making its mark on the profession and in Northern Illinois. Read More
Dr. Deborah Schein is an expert in children's spiritual development, and she believes that it can be nurtured through experiences in and with nature. Read More
Honey Hilliard is the author and illustrator of the book Looking for Butterflies, a color-along poetic narrative celebrating nature, art, and perseverance. Read More

Photo by: Megan Guare

Kindergarten students at Newington Elementary wanted to green their school, and they literally took matters into their own hands. The students worked together with their teacher to turn a bare, muddy patch of ground in front of their school into a welcoming garden. Read More
A Primary Photo Journalist records her partner's work during an activity to create bird feeders for the school yard.

Robin Long

A Primary Photo Journalist records her partner's work during an activity to create bird feeders for the school yard.

'Kids Afield' is a collaborative project developed by three teachers at an N-12 Independent School that uses technology (specifically kid-cameras) as a focus tool to connect K-1 students to nature. Started in September of 2012, in its second year we hope our model can be exported to other schools and groups working with young children in natural environments. Read More
Chippewa Nature Center’s (CNC) Nature Preschool in Midland, Michigan is a high-quality early childhood program for 3- and 4-year olds that teaches children literacy, math, science, and social-emotional skills in the context of nature. The children regularly hike to wooded areas, ponds, fields, and the Homestead Farm. Read More
The Karen Slattery Educational Research Center for Child Development is a lab school for children from birth to 5 years of age, located at Florida Atlantic University. Environmental education is integrated throughout the curriculum with all age groups—infants to preschoolers. Read More
One of the best things my parents did for me as a child was not allow me to watch television. My siblings and I spent all of our spare time outside, playing in the yard, the street or at the park. We would stay out until the sun went down. I now teach early childhood, and my love for being outside has translated to the way I teach. Read More
Taking to heart Rachel Carson's The Sense of Wonder, the teachers of Live & Learn journey daily with children to enjoy and explore the pleasures of walking in a puddle or stream, digging for salamanders, and learning to appreciate what nature has to teach, and why this matters. Read More