Nature Preschool

Nature Preschool is giving families even more of what they love! This year, classes will be held entirely outdoors (except in the event that Michigan weather prevents us from providing a safe learning environment; when we must go indoors, extra safety precautions will be taken).

Space is still available for the 2020-21 school year!

2020-21 Nature Preschool COVID-19 Response and Preparedness Plan

Nature Preschool COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Masks at Nature Preschool

Check out this recent media coverage about Nature Preschool:


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. This program provides 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.

Children build their knowledge through their first-hand experiences with nature, classroom materials and their relationships with peers and adults. The HighScope® 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. Classrooms are in the LEED Gold Certified Margaret Ann (Ranny) Riecker Nature Preschool Center and in the Alden B. Dow-designed Visitor Center.

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

Watch and experience the Nature Preschool program




2021-22 Registration Information Packet

2021-22 Placement Request Form
(Registration begins Dec 4, 2020)

(Note: Child must be 3 or 4 years old by Sept 1, 2021 to be eligible to attend)

2020-21 Registration Information Packet

2020-21 Placement Request Form

(Note: Child must be 3 or 4 years old by Sept 1, 2020 to be eligible to attend)


Important Dates for the 2021-22 School Year:

Fri, Dec 4, 2020 - Registration packets for the 2021-22 school year available

Mon, Jan 4, 2021 - Placement for current and alumni families begins

Mon, Feb 1, 2021 - Placement for new families begins

Interested families should submit their class preferences online through the 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.


Our Mission Statement

  • Our Philosophy
  • Our Curriculum
  • School Schedule
  • Facility Information
  • Enrollment Policy
  • Registration Form and more!
Days Times Ages
Tues, Thurs Morning 3 year olds only
Mon, Wed, Fri Morning 3 & 4 year olds
Mon, Tues, Wed Afternoon 3 & 4 year olds
Mon-Thurs Morning 4 year olds only
Mon-Thurs Afternoon 4 year olds only







Frequently 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 to learn more about the rating system.






PLEASE NOTE: This event has been cancelled for 2020.
Please check back for 2021 dates!

Nature Preschool Institute
June 1-4, 2020
8:30 am-4:30 pm

25 SCECHs available (pending approval)
$400 | $320/CNC member
Includes materials, take-home resources, lunches and snacks
Register by May 18, 2020

This four-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. This workshop will be led by Madison Powell, Preschool Director, the team of Nature Preschool teachers and Rachel Larimore, owner of Samara Early Learning. 

Topics include:
  • Benefits of nature play
  • Real versus perceived outdoor risks
  • Naturalizing outdoor play areas
  • Integrating nature into indoor spaces
  • The real meaning of “dress for the weather”
  • Safely and effectively leading excursions to the "beyond"
  • Extending learning through studies
  • Seasonal large- and small-group activities to incorporate into the classroom
  • STEM in nature-based settings
  • Identifying the learning in nature-based play
  • Communicating with parents
On Monday, participants will spend the day learning about the benefits and core components of the nature-based approach. Day 1 will also include discussion about managing outdoor risks, the role of loose parts in nature-based play and a visit to the Nature Preschool building. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, participants will observe Nature Preschool students and staff in a typical day of the program - inside, outside and beyond. The afternoons will include reflections on the morning session, additional learning around the nature-based pedagogy and information to focus the observations for the following day.
Please contact Madison Powell at or 989.631.0830 with any questions.