Nature Preschool goes camping

By Rebecca Dhondt, Preschool Teacher

Last week Nature Preschool went camping right in our Tall Trees Playscape.  We talked about camping, read about camping, sang about camping and probably dreamed about camping on our rest mats.  Activities included playing in tents, snuggling in sleeping bags, hiking, using mess kits, learning about building fires and ‘roasting’ marshmallows.

Camping in Tall Trees Playscape (1)After reading a camping story, the Nature Preschoolers were excited about creating their own camping story.  We took the opportunity to teach about the parts of a story: beginning, middle and end; problem and solution; and characters and setting.  After brainstorming we created this tale called Nature Preschool and the Tent of Terror.

Once upon a time, Nature Preschool went to a campsite in Delaware.  Continue reading

Learning and Growing with Nature Preschool

By Shannon Dryden, Nature Preschool Manager & Lead Teacher


As the preschool manager and teacher at the Schuylkill Center Nature Preschool, it is so exciting to see the benefits of children spending time outdoors unfolding right before my eyes.  The children have gained endurance and stamina since the beginning of the year.  We now venture to ponds and places that are farther away on our trails and the children enjoy these excursions.  For example after describing Wind Dance Pond, the children immediately began asking “Can we go there?”  Nature Preschool took on the challenge and showed a tremendous amount of pride and sense of self exclaiming, “We made it to Wind Dance Pond!”

This year, I have had the joy of experiencing the seasons, animals, and plants with the children.  Together, we have embarked on a journey of questioning, discovery, and increasing curiosity.

Identifying animals  Wanting to share all of the wonderful activities and ways our children were forming relationships with our natural world, we jumped at the opportunity to present at the 2014 DVAEYC Conference which focuses on current topics, ideas, and discussions going on in the early childhood world.  The theme of the conference was Take a Walk on the Wild Side!  Connecting Children with Nature.  After presenting and being a participant this spring, I was reminded of the possibilities the outdoors offer, and the ways that a young child’s development can be supported simply by engaging in unstructured outdoor play.  Great discussions, networking, conversations, and sharing of lessons and activities culminated into a reaffirmation of the work that we do.

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Photography as Art at Nature Preschool

childrenneednature-01The first edition of Children Need Nature, a monthly message from our Nature Preschool. Read more posts here.

Photography as Art

A Nature Preschool Exploration

With the advent of the Frost exhibit here at the Schuylkill Center, we have been delving deeper into art.    In particular, we are exploring the many ways that art can be expressed – through sculpture, painting, print, fabric, and even photography.  We visited the exhibit as a group and looked in particular at the photographs.  The children were able to describe the photos and express the emotions they felt when looking at them.  They ran the gamut from happy, to sad, to angry to cold.  We talked about how different people can find different things when looking at a work of art.

Later, we went outside and gave the children the opportunity to take their own photographs.  Naturally they took dozens.  We printed them out to show the class.  Then we were able to explore how artists create many pieces that may not make it to the gallery.  They have to pick the one that means the most to them.  Nature Preschoolers were eager to select one photo they had taken that expressed something they wanted to share with the world.  It is wonderful to see how they are able to connect emotion to their photos.  Hooray for our budding photographers.