Nature Preschool

Space is available in Nature Preschool for the 2019-20 school year!

2019-20 Registration Information Packet

2019-20 Registration Form

(Note: Child must be 3 or 4 years old by Sept 1, 2019 to be eligible to attend)


Important Dates for the 2020-21 School Year:

Fri, Dec 6, 2019 - Registration packets for the 2020-21 school year available

Mon, Jan 6, 2020 - Placement for current and alumni families begins

Thurs, Jan 9, 2020 - Open House from 5:30-7 pm

Mon, Feb 3, 2020 - 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.

Watch and experience the Nature Preschool program


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.



2019-20 Parent Handbook


  • 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.






Nature Preschool Institute

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 is led by Rachel Larimore, owner of Samara Early Learning, along with Madison Powell, Nature Preschool Director and the team of Nature Preschool teachers. 

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”
  • Leading effective excursions
  • Extending learning through studies
  • Seasonal activities to incorporate into the classroom
On Monday, participants will spend the day learning about the benefits of nature-based programming, discussing outdoor risks, learning various seasonal activities, and creating props and materials for implementing these concepts. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings participants will observe Nature Preschool students and staff in a typical day of the program. The afternoons will include reflections on the morning session, basic natural history, and information to focus the observations for the following day. The program fee includes materials and lunch each day. 24 SCECHs available (pending approval)
Contact Madison Powell at with questions.
Please check back for 2020 training dates!