Earth Path's Nature School programs give youth an opportunity to explore, play, create, and adventure outdoors within a caring, nature-based community, one day a week.
Through experiential learning, our goal is to help nurture creativity, self-confidence, and respect for each other, while sharing practical skills and knowledge about the natural world.
Many influences inspire our approach, including the Forest School model, Jon Young and the Wilderness Awareness School (i.e. coyote mentoring), friends at Crow's Path, natural history and herbalism, and human traditions of time immemorial: storytelling, music, art, and creative play.
What We Do in Nature School Programs
Together with program participants, we explore 100+ acres of forest, streams and wetland, deepening our connection to nature through activities such as tracking animals, building shelters, nature arts and crafts, harvesting wild edibles/medicinals, naturalist projects, sensory awareness games, and free play. Our nature school classes also enjoy nature wanders, climbing trees and slopes, playing with ropes, nature arts and crafts, scavenger hunts and other child-directed play. With a small child-to-adult mentor ratio (4:1 or 5:1), we work closely with each child to learn their passions and edges, guide them in assessing/managing risk responsibly, and support them in building meaningful skills and relationships. We also encourage stewardship, collaboration, and creative expression through story-telling, music, drawing, and journaling, helping children to share their ideas and feelings, and integrate their learning.
Our curriculum is child-centered, inquiry-based, and emergent, based on the children's interests and new discoveries they make each day. For a glimpse at how we roll, check out our program-specific Stories and Highlights newsletter, a sample of our Fall Newsletter on our blog, and Our Approach page.
A typical day in the school-age program can look like this:
- 9:00 am - Gather at parking lot, play games
- 9:15 am - Morning circle, share recent nature observations
- 9:30 am - "Fox walk" to our camp in the woods
- 9:45 am - Build a fire, snack, work on forts near camp
- 10:15 am-12:00 pm - Daily explore of marshes, streams, forests and meadows. Explore time includes following emergent interests and focused skill-building: e.g. navigation/mapping, tracking, plant ID and harvesting, making fairy homes, solving mysteries, shelter building, sit spots, nature awareness and animal games.
- 12:45 pm-2:20 pm - Afternoon crafts and group games: e.g. whittling, making cordage, drawing, making milkweed pillows, plant collages, field guide study time, journaling, learning fire skills, scavenger hunts.
- 2:20 pm-3:00 pm - Gather together for circle time: share gratitude or reflections from the day. Close with a story or song, then head back out to the parking lot to meet parents.
Curious about our WINTER PROGRAM? See Description of Winter Program
Our kindergarten-age program runs from 9am to 12pm or 1pm to 4pm and focuses more on the nurturing of social-emotional skills and nature awareness through child-led play. The program will give your child an opportunity to play in the forest, explore the animals and plants that live there, climb tree branches, and learn basic tool use, all within a caring well-supervised environment that nurtures self-expression, collaboration, and healthy social-emotional learning.
Circle time, story-telling, games, and sit spots are an integral part of the experience. With a small child:adult ratio (4:1 or 5:1) we can help your child develop stronger social skills, independence, and confidence, while responding to their emerging interests and having lots of fun!
The program also helps kids to assess risk and appropriate boundaries for greater safety awareness.
Children sign up for a half day on Tuesdays. For schedule details, please see our East Ottawa programs page.
Click below for more details about Earth Path's Nature School programs in your preferred area: