Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens

Today we offer two videos:
Toys “R” Us ran this ad in 2013. It opens with a group of children on a bus on their way to a school field trip. The leader starts talking about trees, but that is a ruse…

In response the Trees R Us video was filmed at the Juniper Hill School in Alna, Maine. Anne Stires, featured in the video, is Lead Teacher for the Seeds classroom (pre-K and K) and founding School Director at Juniper Hill. Anne earned her MEd from Antioch University New England and when not exploring the woods of Alna, ME is adjunct faculty in the Nature-based Early Childhood certificate and Integrated Learning /Teacher Certification MEd programs.

Our future depends on our children making connections with each other and the world around them. There is a landscape of possible futures, which will we choose?


Creek In Winter_smBoot clad and bundled, seventeen kindergartners shuffle out of the heavy school doors. As they emerge, each breath suddenly becomes visible mixing with the cold, penetrating air. Standing poised at the door, one student, the “door holder,” waits until his or her last classmate has emerged. The students move confidently behind their teacher, Eliza Minnucci, who strides purposefully towards the nearby trail system, a mere 20 yards from the school doors. Today is Friday, Forest Friday. – See the whole article at the Community Works Journal website.


Forest and Nature Schools
A message from our friends north of the border:
A year ago three partner organizations, (Forest School Canada, Child and Nature Alliance, and Focus on Forests), one funder (TD Friends of the Environment Foundation), one editor, as well as sixteen educators from across Canada all set out to develop a Forest and Nature School Guide. After many months of collaboration, dialogue, debate, writing and editing we’re happy to launch “FOREST AND NATURE SCHOOL IN CANADA: A Head, Heart, Hands Approach to Outdoor Learning.”
In these pages, you will find out more on the ethos of Forest and Nature School as it relates to a Canadian context, as well as what it looks like in practice. We weave together principles, storytelling, place-based learning, play, and notions of risk like you’ve never seen it before! I’m confident this guide will be relevant to your work, and that together we’re all making a difference at connecting children to the natural world!
Please share this widely in your networks, and a big thank you to everyone involved in creating something magical. Also, we’re very grateful to David Sobel for writing the preface to this guide, as well as Robert Bateman who opened up the discussion on our blog today on the importance of Forest and Nature School in Canada! To see the blog post, click here:
Kindest, Marlene Power
1. Link to Share on Social Media:

2. PDF of Guide:

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 12.08.57 PMHere’s more ore evidence that Nature-based Education is catching on as an organizing theme for pre-schools and early elementary classrooms! Kaitlin Mulhere recently wrote about Nature-based Programs in the Keene Sentinel newspaper:

Four-year-old Myles Alderfer waddles in his snow pants from the goats’ pen toward the trickling creek. In his small hands he holds a yellow bucket, as tall as his knees and half-filled with water. A little bit sloshes out of the bucket with each step he takes…

Read the whole article by Kaitlin Mulhere about Nature -based Education in the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire here:

Nature-based Education Programs Gaining Popularity in Area

111_webIN THE BACK OF THE FARMHOUSE at Drumlin Farm Community Preschool in Lincoln sit five chickens surrounded by a gaggle of preschoolers — eyes wide, waiting. The teacher opens the egg box door, and the students, staying slow and small like they were taught, peer in…

Click here to read the whole October 6 article by Melinda Penda as it appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine featuring Antioch’s David Sobel and the new  Nature-Based Early Childhood Program.

Starting Off Right: Creating Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens

Saturday, March 2, 2013 Antioch University New England

with Ken Finch, Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood


Nature preschools and forest kindergartens combine the strength of environmental education and early childhood education, nurturing healthy and holistic child development while simultaneously fostering life-long conservation values.

This full-day workshop will address the nitty-gritty planning necessary to get a nature preschool/forest kindergarten up and running, and off on a successful path. We’ll focus on the creation of business plans, including:

  • simple market analyses;
  • promotion;
  • site and faculty needs;
  • staffing requirements and options; and
  • the crucial income and expense projections.

We’ll also review fundraising options and basic risk management issues.

Participants will draft a three-year budget for their operation, rough-up a promotional flyer and/or website, and prepare and practice persuasive verbal descriptions and “sales pitches” for their school. We’ll allocate plenty of time to share your own experiences and ideas, and will take a close look at existing models that have proven successful in the U.S.

Ken Finch is the founder and President of Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood located in Omaha, Nebraska. Green Hearts is a small conservation organization focused on restoring the bonds between children and nature. In that role, Ken speaks, teaches, writes, and consults about nature play and nature-based preschools.

Ken has been working in environmental education for 38 years, and holds a masters degree in that field from Antioch New England. He has served as the Director of two of the country’s largest nature centers, has been a senior manager at two children’s museums, ans was the Minnesota State Director for the National Audubon Society. Ken’s responsibilities have included supervision of two nature/science preschools, and he has assisted with the planning and development of several others. Ken is a former national President of the Association of Nature Center Administrators, and has been active with numerous other nonprofit boards.

Register online in January at:

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