Can you believe it’s already time to head back to school?! At Indian Creek Nature Center that means we’re gearing up for regular field trips and fall programs, but this year is extra special. On September 7, our brand new nature-based preschool, Creekside Forest School, will officially open its doors.
Creekside Forest School is a nature-based, independent preschool program for three- and four-year-old children. Children will spend 30-70% of their day outdoors learning in the context of nature. In addition to kindergarten readiness, Creekside Forest School also teaches positive peer play behaviors and “learning to learn” skills that increase success in future school experiences. At Creekside Forest School we believe:
- In immersive outdoor learning.
- Learning looks like play.
- Curricula can be guided by the seasons and take place in all weather.
- Teaching and learning start with inquiry and occur cyclically.
- In being environmental stewards and living lightly on the earth.
- Early childhood education fosters critical lifelong skills.
- In celebrating the diversity of life.
We’ve been working hard behind the scenes preparing our classroom, hiring staff and gathering the necessary materials to welcome little learners to Creekside Forest School…but we could use your help! There are many ways to support our preschool, including spreading the word and applying to volunteer, but one of the biggest barriers we face as a nonprofit organization in creating the perfect preschool classroom is cost. We’ve covered the basics that our budget allows, but we’ve gathered a wishlist of materials that we believe would complete our dream program.
If you believe in the power of nature-based education (backed by science!) and want to play a part in providing that to our community, consider supporting Creekside Forest School in it’s pilot year by:
Our back to school wishlist includes...
The magic of Creekside Forest School is our nature-based approach to teaching and learning. We’ll be spending the majority of our days outside. Learning will take place even in the rain and snow, and in order to ensure comfort and safety for all, our dream program includes a gear library.
The first step to ensuring children are ready to engage and learn is to ensure they are physically comfortable and safe. You can help by purchasing or donating items on our back-to-school wishlist such as: rain boots & suits, sun hats, snow bibs, winter coats, snow boots, mittens, hats, socks, tarps, ice packs, thermos containers, water bottles, sunscreen, bug spray and more.
Your generous donation will quite literally put coats on kids’ backs, boots on their feet, protect them from the sun, and keep them comfortable in all weather.
While we’ll spend the majority of our time outside at Creekside Forest School, it’s important that our indoor environment not only serve as a comfortable shelter, but also provide a rich learning environment that brings nature indoors. We’ve been hard at work preparing our classroom for the 2021-22 school year, but there are still some items on our wishlist, such as: pillows, cushions, rugs, blankets, play items and more. Not only will these materials be used in our preschool, but in other programs as well, like Trail Trekkers, field trips, birthday parties, Creek Camps and more!
Art and music play a critical role in children’s development. Studying and creating nature-inspired art, singing, dancing, playing instruments and experiencing the sounds of nature will all be an important part of the Creekside Forest School curriculum. We’ve gathered some supplies already, but the following items are still on our wishlist: wind chimes, percussion instruments, a sound machine, dancing scarves, markers, paints, brushes, sponges, stencils, paper and more.
If you’re passionate about art, music and nature-based learning, take this opportunity to support the next generation of art, music and nature-lovers. These are tools that will be widely used at the Nature Center, not just in our preschool but in a variety of programs!
At Creekside Forest School children are learning the basics of reading, writing and math by listening to books, comprehending stories, recognizing letters and sounds, scribbling and drawing shapes, identifying numbers, describing patterns and more. Nature provides an incredibly rich environment for practicing these types of skills — just think of the patterns you see in flowers, for example. But access to items such as tracing tools, flash cards, blocks, measuring tapes and more elevate that learning process even more.
Preschool is an important time for developing large and small motor skills. Our 200-acre outdoor classroom provides all kinds of environments — prairie, woodlands and wetlands to name a few — to put those skills into practice. In order to take things up a notch, we need sensory materials such as large pieces of fabric, blocks and building tools, hand tools, balls, hoops, tunnels, ropes and more.
Preschool is the perfect time for children to practice expressing themselves and their emotions. At Creekside Forest School, children will learn how to relate with adults, interact with other children, and develop positive peer relationships. Nature is a great equalizer — the perfect setting for this essential form of development. Of course, tools can help, too. On our wishlist are: dramatic play materials like costumes and props, books, mirrors, games and more.
Something not on our list but you think would provide value? Questions? Get in touch.