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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.

meadow-hikeImportant Dates

Dec 1, 2017 – 2018-19 registration information packets available

Jan 8, 2018 – Placement for current and alumni families begins

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

NEW THIS YEAR! Interested families should submit their class preferences online through the 2018-2019 Nature Preschool Placement Request Form. Registrations received prior to the placement date will be pooled and children will be placed in sessions by lottery. Registrations received after the placement date will be placed in the order they are received based on availability of sessions.

2018-19 Registration Information Packet2018-19 Registration Form

Registration & Scheduling

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

2017-18 Parent Handbook
Tues, ThursMorning3 year olds only
Mon, Wed, FriMorning3 & 4 year olds
Mon, Tues, WedAfternoon3 & 4 year olds
Mon-ThursMorning4 year olds only
Mon-ThursAfternoon4 year olds only

About Nature Preschool

stump-circle_smFrequently 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!

nature-drawing_smNature Preschool Institute

May 30-June 1, 2018

This three-day 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 about the event in 2017

CNC's Nature Preschool in the News

Aug 15, 2017 – PBS NEWS HOUR segment, B is for bug when preschoolers make nature their classroom

Jan 17, 2017 – Education Week article, At ‘Nature Preschools,’ Classes Are Outdoors

Dec 29, 2015  – New York Times article, Preschool Without Walls
Nature Preschool/Bullock Creek School District partnership

Preschool Gallery