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What is a forest/nature preschool?

What is a nature school?
The concept originated in Germany in the late 1960’s1960s. Children spend a large portion of their school day outdoors, regardless of the weather, repeatedly visiting and exploring a particular landscape and its inhabitants. These programs are now popular throughout northern Europe and quickly gaining momentum in North America.


How much time will my child spend outdoors?
Children at WFC will be outside for approximately 75-100% of class time. On days with challenging weather, this time may be shortened; on pleasant days we will find ourselves outside for the whole class.

What indoor activities will be offered?
Children will engage in free play and group time inside the learning center. Children have many opportunities to create art, engage in imaginative play, develop fine and large motor skills, participate in group circle time, and enjoy reading and quiet time.


What clothing will my child require?
Your child will need proper outdoor clothing to ensure that their time outside is comfortable. This may include multiple under layers; a warm outer layer such as a wool sweater, fleece, or down jacket; rain gear (Oakie) is rented from WFC it is included in the registration fee; two pairs of boots, one rubber and one insulated; wool or fleece socks; a warm winter hat and a sun hat; a neck warmer; and mittens. A comprehensive list of suggested clothing will be provided in your parent handbook.

How do we teach?


We read to them
We speak in complex language to them – they hear that words have meaning
We encourage book handling and model writing
Story dictations
We write in front of children
We use children’s names, the most familiar word to them
We play guessing games involving names, pieces of language,
and words



Our philosophy is a middle path – we teach for academic outcomes and we do so through play, exploration, and adventure. 

Counting within context – counting the number of petals in a flower, does every flower have the same number of petals?
Counting children and/or if there is enough of something for everyone
Counting with emotional need (example : counting how many crackers one can have for a snack)
Searching for 4 leaf clovers
Manipulative – patterns, sizing, grouping
Writing numbers
Role model reading numbers
Snacks – sorting, one-to-one correspondence, table setting
Who’s missing – group names
Scales—more or less
Sorting of materials
Songs with counting
Pointing out time


Here at Woodland Forest, every child is a little scientist, testing and exploring the world to understand an important question: How does it work?

Child-led exploration
Conduct science experiments – the child makes a guess, tests their idea, records the data, and reports back to the team
Magnifying glasses
Bug hunting
Show and tell
Test the surface tension of a mud puddle by pushing a leaf through it
Splashing around
Learning about flowers by pollinating them with paintbrushes
Following a butterfly to the butterfly garden
Reading about animals and then searching for the animals in the forest
Planting a seed and watching it grow into a plant
Encourage exploration and understanding of the natural world and the scientific processes that make such a diversity of life possible.
Encourage problem-solving and reflection by asking open-ended questions and providing information in response to children’s ideas, insights, and concerns

Social and Emotional Development

We teach to the whole child so children enter kindergarten not just ready to learn to read but have the executive functions and social skills for lifelong success.

Emotional and social development is an essential part of our preschool. We focus on skills like empathy, self-help/self-care, coordination, cutting, sitting still, attention span, patience, following directions, sharing, communicating, and making friends. We teach the building blocks for being a good human.

Promote social skills and positive self-image through group play and cooperative learning
Cultivate emotional literacy and empathy to develop self-esteem
Nurture self-expression, creativity, and reflection
Peer encouragement
Make choices and experience the consequences of choices
Time to work on projects/skills
Develop activities that encourage cognitive growth, problem-solving skills, and development of physical motor skills

Making things interesting (active learning), but not entertaining (passive learning – sitting still)
Having children wait in line in context (when there are limited resources, i.e., two sinks and ten kids need to use them)
Provide a supportive, safe learning environment to encourage discovery, questioning, and experimentation

Art, music, play

For children 3-5 learning and brain development is a hands-on, tactile, and experiential process where all of the senses are engaged. Little minds learn through music, art, and play and everything is connected – it is a true inter-disciplinary education.

Play, music, and art are an important element of how we teach both academic outcomes and social and emotional development.
We create sculptures out of natural materials that reflect the wilds of our imagination.
Each child shares their art with others and gets to tell a story about it.
We bake mud pies, figure out how many cuts need to be made to give everyone a slice and in the process learn about triangles.
We tell and hear stories, some with a sing-along chorus.


Things to remember:

Most activities or lessons that you can do in an indoor preschool can be done outdoors.
In addition to natural art materials crayons, construction paper, glue, glitter and all of the wondrous art supplies needed to craft something awesome are available.

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