Nature Preschool

Nature as Teacher

At Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool, nature is our classroom, and the sticks, pebbles, and leaves we find become our learning tools. Our hands-on, nature-based education ensures children will be successful in kindergarten and beyond by helping your child to develop a sense of cooperation and empathy, respect for nature and people, and grow physically and cognitively.

Research has shown that when academics are pushed on young children before they are ready, the test-taking skills they may gain in the short term do not last, and their anxiety and stress levels sky rocket. We believe, and the evidence supports, that children in the preschool years learn best through play, including math, literacy, art, and science. We explore each of these concepts in age-appropriate ways, indoors and outdoors, through play, discovery, and joyful experiences.

How we teach early childhood literacy

There are many ways to introduce literacy to children. Providing language-rich environments in which adults and children talk to each other, and in which reading and writing is incorporated seamlessly into play, are among the most effective.

In our program:

We provide opportunities to browse books about nature

We create patterns in the sand with our fingertips to practice writing

We speak to children using complex language and science words

We read signs in nature

We study trail maps

We create mud-kitchen menus

We identify words and letters in the Center, on the grounds, and in nature

We make reading and writing a daily, organic, and authentic part of our play

How we teach early childhood math skills

Mathematical concepts are all around us. The more authentic and real-life math is, the more meaningful it becomes to young children. As with early literacy, we make mathematical concepts a daily part of play and exploration.

In our program:

We count turtles on rocks, butterflies on flowers, and birds at the feeder

We count six legs on insects, eight legs on spiders, four legs on chipmunks, and one foot on slugs

We subtract water from sugar when we make maple syrup

We measure sunflowers, wingspan, and tree circumference

We weigh pumpkins and gourds

We look for circles, stars, and hearts in nature.

We study the shapes of snowflakes

We track the amount of rainfall in our rain gauge

How we get your children ready for Kindergarten

In order to be ready for kindergarten, children require a solid foundation beyond the academics. This means developing physical coordination, social competence, empathy for others, and a rich and active curiosity.

In our program:

We take hikes every day to build muscles, balance, endurance, and strength

We pick up acorns, logs, sticks, pebbles,

We balance on logs, climb trees, and dig in the sand

We do yoga poses together.

We take care of the animals in our room

We take care of our classroom and play spaces

We give the children time to solve problems and conflicts

We learn about migration and hibernation

We explore puddles, ponds, and the Lake Michigan shoreline

We learn about animal tracks.

We learn about insects, frogs, turtles, owls, and songbirds

We make nature an integral part of our lives, every day, throughout the year

To learn more, join us for Nature Preschool Sneak Peek on Saturday December 14 from 9:00am to 11:00am. Get a feel for a typical Nature Preschool day while spending time in our outdoor play spaces, meeting a live animal, exploring the trails, and more!

We will also host The K4 Paradox: A Conversation with Parents and Teachers on Tuesday, November 12 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. Join us for this panel discussion about nature education and the kindergarten experience. This conversation will cover information about academic expectations for K4 and K5, the value of emotional resilience, and other relevant topics.