Nature is our Classroom
At Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool, our days begin outdoors. Nature is our classroom, and the sticks, pebbles, and leaves we find become our learning tools. On a typical day in the warmer months, children look under logs to discover insects, worms, and Blue-spotted Salamanders. They climb our 60-foot tower, dip nets into ponds, play camouflage games, and find ancient fossils on the lake shore. As the air cools down and snow falls, they follow rabbit and turkey tracks. They explore spectacular ice formations and learn about animal migration and hibernation by seeing the birds fly away, or watching the turtles burrow down in the mud. Nature is our teaching partner and every day we learn something new.
We are a Nurturing Community
Children who attend Nature Preschool develop a strong sense of empathy and respect for other living things. Students build long-lasting friendships and connections with one another, and with their teachers. They learn to share, work cooperatively, and be part of a group. By looking after the animals in their classrooms and spending time with the amazing raptors and animal ambassadors that live at our center, children come to care about nature and wild spaces. For us, every day is Earth Day, as we grow to appreciate our own role in nature, and learn to take care of the world.
We Lay the Foundation for Future Learning
Teachers introduce science, math, and literacy skills in ways that are hands-on and sensory. Students learn to draw pictures in the sand and mud, read trail markers, and form letters with sticks and rocks. They exchange letters with chipmunks, follow written clues on the trails, and make mud kitchen menus. Students will also learn to identify shapes and colors in nature, measure sunflowers, weigh pumpkins, count, subtract, and make predictions. As a group, we ask questions and use observational skills to find answers by taking part in activities such as studying the life cycles of frogs and butterflies, and learn about gravity by following the flow of water down our ravines to Lake Michigan.
We Move our Bodies!
Children in our program spend about 75% of their time outside. They run, jump, balance, tumble, climb, and stretch. They chase waves, climb trees, collect acorns, plant flowers, make snowmen, and boot skate across our frozen ponds. Research has shown that the more children move their bodies, the more their brains light up, and their neurons form strong connections. Children who have time and space to move outdoors are almost always better able to focus indoors. Outdoor movement reduces anxiety, releases energy, and promotes good health and fitness.
Our Days Are Full of Fun!
At Nature Preschool, the days and weeks are full of mud pies. Laughter echoes down the hallway. We jump in puddles, hang from branches, touch sticky seeds, and catch frogs. In October, we rake leaves and fall into leaf piles, and in January, we sled down hills and climb giant snow piles. In March, we tap maple trees, and boil the sap down into maple syrup, and then in May, birds serenade us. We strive to meet the developmental needs of the children in our program while also getting them ready for school. But we never forget that spending time in preschool should be a happy experience. Celebrating the joy of nature, and the joy of childhood, is at the heart of what we do.
Applications are now available for 2019-2020 year.