About Nature Preschool
Chippewa Nature Center

Purpose   |   Philosophy   |   Curriculum   |   Parent Handbook   |   FAQ   |   How/What We Teach   |   Play-based Learning



Nature Preschool is a high-quality, play-based program
which uses research-based curriculum practices to implement
developmentally-appropriate early childhood education with nature at its core.



We believe that children are capable individuals intrinsically motivated to learn. The teaching staff promotes learning by:

Nature Preschool students building with magnetic tiles

  • Providing an environment which encourages discovery, experimentation, and the opportunity to see the results of one’s actions.
  • Developing activities that encourage growth based on children’s abilities and interests.
  • Encouraging problem-solving and reflection by asking open-ended questions and providing information in response to children’s ideas, insights, and concerns.
  • Assisting children in their interactions with each other and offering opportunities for conflict resolution and cooperative learning.
  • Appreciating the individuality of children and families, and celebrating diversity.
  • Engaging the whole family in the nature-based educational process.




Nature Preschool teacher reading to studentsLearning in these eight areas is guided by 58 key developmental indicators (KDIs). Each KDI identifies an important learning goal for young children. We recognize that the normal pace of children’s development and learning varies widely across these eight categories and the KDIs reflect that continuum of widely held expectations. Our curriculum is designed to help teachers appropriately scaffold learning for every child across all areas.

The HighScope key developmental indicators:

  • Provide teachers with a child development “filter” for observing and choosing appropriate interactions and activities
  • Help teachers interpret what young children say and do along a developmental continuum
  • Enable teachers to maintain reasonable expectations for young children
  • Reinforce children’s play as the primary mechanism for learning
  • Allow teachers to be more knowledgeable and intentional in their daily planning for individual children and the class

2022-23 Nature Preschool Parent Handbook

Frequently Asked Questions





How We Teach

In a HighScope Nature Preschool student building with wooden blockspreschool program, teachers ignite children’s interest in learning by creating an environment that encourages them to explore learning materials and interact with adults and peers. We focus on supporting early learners as they make decisions, build academic skills, develop socially and emotionally, and become part of a classroom community.

Active learning is at the center of the HighScope Curriculum. It’s the foundation of young children gaining knowledge through their natural play and interactions with the environment, events, and other people.

Adult-Child Interaction
Teachers act as partners, working alongside children and communicating with them both verbally and nonverbally to encourage learning. Key strategies for adult-child interactions are sharing control with children, communicating as a partner with children, scaffolding children’s play, using encouragement instead of praise, and taking a problem-solving approach to supporting children in resolving conflicts.

Learning Environment
To create a predictable and active learning environment, teachers arrange and equip the classroom with diverse, open-ended materials that reflect children’s home, culture, and language. The room is organized and labeled to promote independence and encourage children to carry out their intentions.

Daily Routine
A consistent framework for the day provides a balanced variety of experiences and learning opportunities. Children engage in both individual and social play, participate in small and large-group activities, assist with cleanup, socialize during meals, develop self-care skills, and exercise their small and large muscles. The most important segment of the daily routine is the plan-do-review sequence, in which children make decisions about what they will do, carry out their ideas, and reflect upon their activities with adults and other children. These higher level thinking skills are linked to the development of executive functions, which are needed to be successful in school and life.

Ongoing child assessment is also an underlying component of the HighScope Curriculum. Objective anecdotal observations of children collected throughout children’s natural play allow teachers to assess child progress and plan meaningful learning experiences.

What We Teach

The HighScope Preschool Curriculum is based on more than 50 years of research on early childhood development and has been validated by direct evaluation of the curriculum. Our framework for understanding and supporting children’s learning from ages 3-5 years is based on 58 key developmental indicators (KDIs), which are aligned with national and state early learning standards, Common Core State Standards, and the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework.

In the HighScope Preschool Curriculum, learning is focused on the following eight content areas:

  • Approaches to Learning
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development and Health
  • Language, Literacy, and Communication
  • Mathematics
  • Creative Arts
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Studies




Learning Through Play

Nature Preschool students at the mud kitchen

Play is a vital part of a child’s social, emotional, language, physical, and cognitive growth during the preschool years. Children learn best through play—it is their work. When you visit Nature Preschool you will see the children engaged in many different kinds of play:

  • A group of children building a fort are experimenting with materials, gravity, balance, communication, and collaboration
  • A child making “muffins” in the mud kitchen is utilizing imaginative play skills and scientific tools
  • A child climbing a tree is building large and fine motor skills as well as analyzing risk

Nature Preschool provides meaningful opportunities for your child to experience learning through play. Whether independently or in a group, play enables your child to explore and understand their world. Using these interests, teachers will expand this learning through the introduction of new
materials and ideas.

2022-23 Nature Preschool Parent Handbook


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