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Nature has always been our classroom. We have been teaching outdoors since our preschool was founded in 2003. We now divide our days between our four outdoor classrooms and the beautiful surrounding nature trails. During a year at Nature Preschool, a child might watch a monarch butterfly begin its migration to Mexico, catch a frog at Mystery Lake, and learn to tap a maple tree.
Founded in 2003, the preschool was the first of its kind in Wisconsin and is nationally recognized. Housed in the Center’s Gold LEED-certified building, the Preschool’s uniqueness stems from our strong commitment to both environmental education and inquiry-based learning. We are a 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.
Based upon seasonal changes, our nature-based curriculum includes daily outdoor discovery of Schlitz Audubon’s diverse habitats, plus:
- Curiosity and engagement
- Social and emotional learning
- Cognitive skill development
- Large and small motor skill development
- Environmental literacy
- Scientific thinking
- Literacy skills and writing
- Math and manipulative activities
- Dramatic play
- Art and music
Our preschoolers learn by doing – they climb on logs, search for insects, dig for worms, hike the trails, splash in puddles, play in the snow and get to know the Center’s resident reptiles, amphibians, and Raptors. As a Nature Preschool, we spend the majority of our class time outside exploring throughout all of the seasons. With proper seasonal attire, our students learn to embrace the rain, snow, and sunshine alike, as well as any other weather Wisconsin has to offer. Students begin to develop a sense of place and an understanding of the natural world that surrounds us all.
Our Learning Environment
We are a fully-licensed, nine-month preschool offering morning or afternoon classes. The Preschool’s students are co-taught by professionally trained and motivated teachers who offer years of early childhood and environmental education teaching experience. They also enjoy special programs taught by Center Naturalists. With 16 children in each of our four outdoor classrooms, there is a maximum ratio of one teacher for every eight children. These ratios and our training requirements exceed the requirements of the State of Wisconsin and meet the accreditation criteria set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Our Preschool is part of Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin and a member of Natural Start Alliance, which is part of the North American Association for Environmental Education.