Nature Is Our Classroom
Fostering the development of the whole child through emergent and child-centered learning, play, exploration, and discovery in the natural world.
Pedagogy & Philosophy
Children are intrinsically motivated to learn. They do so through play and exploring the world around them. Abundant time in natural settings yields long-term benefits in children’s cognitive, emotional, and social development. On top of all that, nature is the perfect place to learn about the world we live in. The natural world provides the living context in which to learn about cycles, interdependence, energy and resources, scale and limits, diversity, succession, and sustainability. Our programs are a space where children can explore the natural world & learn to ask relevant questions, develop problem-solving skills & processes for thinking and searching for answers, & learn how to live, work, & communicate cooperatively.
We create a setting where children can grow into citizens of the world; respecting all cultures, creatures, and environments. Our curriculum emerges from each child’s unique needs and aptitudes that provide children with the skills they need to be prepared for a rapidly changing world. Children learn to self-regulate and navigate interactions with friends and others. We maintain a high child-to-staff ratio so children have more opportunities for meaningful interaction. In all of our nature immersion programs, we create an atmosphere where children can explore the natural world, learn to ask relevant questions, develop problem-solving skills, and learn how to live, work, and communicate cooperatively.
In order to capture a diverse array of interests as well as provide multiple perspectives on human interactions with nature, we offer experiences across a broad range of themes. Our child-centered, emergent curriculum uses these themes to guide projects and activities while flowing through a seasonal rhythm.
The Natural World
Examine ecosystems, watersheds, soils, plants and wildlife through scientific inquiry
Garden to Table
Explore cultural connections to land and place through growing, foraging, preparing and sharing food
Engage in creative design for a future in which natural resources are used responsibly
Health and Well-being
Eat well, live actively, develop self-awareness, and build community
These themes resonate through seasonal rhythms and hands-on projects.
Emergent Learning - Children are naturally curious, asking questions and discovering the world around them through their senses, play, and exploration. Our curriculum is responsive to children’s interests in order to create meaningful learning experiences.
Emotional & Physical Safety - We create safe places where children can thrive while being able to engage in reasonable risk-taking during play.
Families - Families carry and pass down their wisdom from generation to generation. We honor the beautiful diversity of families and encourage family involvement through participation in annual celebrations and festivals, volunteering, and family classes, workshops, and events.
Excellence - We use methods and practices that are evidence-based and supported by quality data in order to cultivate learning. Our staff are educated and experienced in a variety of areas that enable a diverse learning experience.
Nurturing Individuality - Your little ones are unique. We embrace and encourage each child’s uniqueness by providing kids with a variety of experiences and choices. Our educators work hard to inspire and nurture individuality, one connection at a time.
Check out what we've been up to!
Click on each month below to look at our monthly newsletter and learn more about seasonal themes and curriculum.
October is a month of transition. It’s still beautiful outside, but also wildly changeable. This month, our students will explore how to go on quests of learning. To pursue their curiosity, students find their own reasons to strengthen their skills of investigating and collecting evidence. Much of our learning time will be focused on one of three potential quest-based units (on fire, water, or earth/air as it connects to plant and tree ecology).
During the month of February, we’re focusing on the theme of resiliency as a thread that runs through our explorations, activities, and games. Resiliency describes our ability to incorporate challenging lessons and use them to build personal strength, as well as finding signs of how the winter forest overcomes adversity and bounces back even stronger. We will be learning skills such as navigation, fire building, carving, and learning about the 10 essentials of outdoor survival. We will look at what humans need to be warm and comfortable outdoors, while also noticing how wild animals who survive the winter with burrows, fur, and behavior adaptations that support their resiliency.
November is Native American People and Indigenous People’s month and at EdenAcres we will be focusing on the theme of “Heritage.” Our curriculum this month will examine traditions and artifacts from the local Grand Ronde confederated tribes. We will bring in ancestral skills of carving, weaving, and fire-making. In addition, using age-appropriate approaches we will reflect on social concepts of power relationships and otherness as assets in our day-to-day lives.
March’s curriculum theme is “Spring Creations” and encompasses both the new growth we’re seeing in nature and students’ own creativity in response to witnessing the changes at forest and farm school. During the earliest months of spring, all that has lain dormant over the past several months is peeking a tentative tendril out into the world. This is a great time for students to notice and record change and growth. We’re beginning to observe tiny leaflets of wild carrot, dandelion, miner’s lettuce and other sprouts already coming out of the ground!
This month's theme is about listening, and not just with your ears. Active listening is the process of noticing and responding. January in particular, is a time of balance, hibernation, and renewal. During this time nature can be so still. Everything seems dormant, except for the occasional resident bird. As we practice our listening together during the still times, we will be focused on storytelling. Students will be exploring characters and patterns from stories and link them to their lived experiences.
This month, students explore the concept of stewardship. Stewardship is a practice of caring for nature the same way that we would care for and respect our bodies and each other. Stewardship is a disposition and not just a series of actions. It is ‘how’ we do things more than ‘what’ we do. Through exploration and play in nature that are unscripted, such as finding a magical stream or watching a centipede up close, we develop a connection to place. After building this connection, children then develop an ethic of service and stewardship towards the land and themselves. We are leaning into these ideas and digging deeper into concepts of community by exploring interconnections between human and natural communities.