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Nature Preschool


Chippewa Nature Center is pleased to offer a nature-based preschool, one of only about 20 others in the country when it first began in 2007. Classes take place in the LEED Gold Certified Margaret Ann (Ranny) Riecker Nature Preschool Center and in the Alden B. Dow-designed Nature Study Building. Nature Preschool offers 3- and 4-year old children a high quality learning environment that meets their developmental needs while initiating them into a life-long, meaningful relationship with the natural world.

Nature Preschool offers discovery-based learning through play, sensory, gross and fine motor activities and creative expression, using the natural world as a catalyst for children’s growth and development. The curriculum includes art, music, social and cognitive skill development and natural science exploration. The children regularly hike to wooded areas, ponds, fields, and the Homestead Farm. Children build their knowledge through their first-hand experiences with nature, classroom materials and their relationships with peers and adults.

Please direct questions regarding Nature Preschool to Madison Powell, Nature Preschool Director.


Registration for the 2017-18 school year
is now open!

2017-18 Nature Preschool Registration Packet

Placement for current and alumni families
begins Jan 9

Placement for new registrations begins Feb 1,
then on an ongoing basis until filled.

2017-18 Registration Packet

Registration & Scheduling

    • Our Mission Statement
    • Our Philosophy
    • Our Curriculum
    • School Schedule
    • Facility Information
    • Enrollment Policy
    • Registration Form
    • and more!

2016-17 Parent Handbook
Mon-Thurs9 am-12 pm3 & 4 year olds
Mon-Thurs1-4 pm3 & 4 year olds OR 4 year olds only
Mon, Wed, Fri8:45-11:45 am OR 9 am-12 pm3 & 4 year olds
Mon, Tues, Wed12:45-3:45 pm OR 1-4 pm3 & 4 year olds
Tues, Thurs8:45-11:45 am OR 9 am-12 pm3 year olds only

Nature Preschool and CNC’s partnership with Bullock Creek School District
were mentioned in the Dec 29, 2015 New York Times article
Preschool Without Walls

About Nature Preschool

NP AM dock 2Frequently Asked Questions

Research Related to Nature Preschool

  • Benefits of going outside and experiencing nature

  • Nature Deficit Disorder and the Health of our Children

  • Early Childhood and Nature-based Preschools

Michigan Great Start to Quality 5-Star Rating
Nature Preschool has consistently earned a 5-star rating, the highest rating possible, on the Michigan Great Start to Quality rating system, effective 2016-18. Of 122 childcare providers in Midland County, only three have received a 5-star rating. Great Start to Quality helps parents find the best early learning settings for their children, and helps providers and educators improve the care they give to children. Providers are evaluated on a 5-star rating system that covers five key areas of quality which include: staff qualifications and professional development, family and community partnerships, administration and management, environment, and curriculum and instruction. Visit greatstarttoquality.org to learn more about the rating system.


Attention Preschool Educators!

NP_Apr29_2013 (67)

Nature Preschool Institute

June 12-15, 2017

This workshop will provide preschool educators the information and skills to incorporate nature-based concepts into daily preschool routines while maintaining the integrity of their best practice curriculum. Learn more

Preschool Gallery

CNC's Nature Preschool is the Model for Nature-Based Preschool Book


Establishing-a-Nat-Based-PreKChippewa Nature Center’s (CNC) Nature Preschool was the model for the book, Establishing a Nature-Based Preschool. Nature Preschool has quickly become a highly sought-after preschool program for families in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The program has drawn a great deal of positive attention from early childhood professionals throughout Michigan. The book, written by CNC’s former Director of Education Rachel Larimore, highlights these successes and provides a how-to guide for nature centers looking to establish a licensed nature-based preschool in their own community.

The book is now available in paperback at amazon.com or as an e-book (downloadable PDF) at interpnet.com.