Virtual Site Tours
Whether you’re new to nature-based early learning, or you have years of experience, learning how other programs operate, touring their spaces, and spending time with staff is an incredibly valuable opportunity. When our conference is in-person, tours of local programs are a highlight of the event. With a virtual conference, there is no geographical limit to the programs we can explore!
This year we are thrilled to offer virtual tours of six unique, high-quality nature-based preschools, both in the US and around the world.
Virtual site tours are available as an add-on to your conference registration. Tours will be recorded and available on demand after the live events.
US Programs — $30
Tour three high-quality nature-based preschools in the United States: A Safe Place Child Enrichment Center in North Carolina, Imua Inclusion Preschool in Hawaii, and Squaxin Island Child Development Center in Washington.
US tours will be live and take place consecutively on Tuesday, July 27, beginning at 11 am ET. Recordings will be available after the live events.
A Safe Place Child Enrichment Center, North Carolina
11:00 am - 12:15 pm ET
A Safe Place Child Enrichment Inc. (ASP) is a 5-star, NAEYC-accredited program that is partnered with Early Head Start and North Carolina Pre-K, which are both no-cost programs to families. A Safe Place is a Preventing Obesity by Design (POD) demonstration site for our county. Around thirteen years ago, we made the decision to stop serving canned food and to offer a salad daily along with locally grown fresh foods. Our programs incorporate and adapt a natural learning curriculum and engage children in taking advantage of our largest classroom, our outdoor learning environment (OLE), building on the philosophy that everything we do indoors can be done bigger and better outdoors. ASP believes that the OLE supports children with their emotional, social, language, physical, and cognitive development. The OLE becomes the third teacher, blooming new activities daily. A Safe Place has been intentional in creating settings that support diverse opportunities for exploration. Our OLE features water play, mud kitchens, live animals, along with pollination, production, and edible gardens.
Squaxin Island Child Development Center, Washington
12:30 - 1:45 pm ET
We are a tribal child development center, tucked between two creeks and an old-growth cedar forest, located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. In October of 2018, as part of the Washington State Outdoor Preschool Pilot Program, we opened our first outdoor preschool classroom, the Saplings & Cedars. In January of 2020, we became the second licensed outdoor program in Washington State. Our program believes strongly in our connections to the natural world and the importance of creating these connections early in life.
Imua Inclusion Preschool, Hawaii
2:00 - 3:15 pm ET
Imua Inclusion Preschool is located on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Our classroom serves 20 children, with 25% of the class having an identified developmental delay or special need. Being outdoors and providing all children access to nature, no matter their abilities, is an essential piece of our teaching practices and philosophy. At Imua Inclusion Preschool, our curriculum emphasizes the significance of our land and ocean along with the Hawaiian culture. We are located in a suburban-like area and have made many adaptations to implement place-based education, including gardening, walking to the park on a weekly basis, taking regular trips to places such as the lo’i (taro patches) and tide pools, and celebrating weekly Forest School Fridays. On Fridays, we spend the entire day in nature either at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens or Imua Discovery Garden, the location for our upcoming second preschool program.
International Programs — $30
Tour three high-quality nature-based preschools around the world: Hiroshima University Forest Kindergarten in Japan, Keiraville Community Preschool in Australia, and The Planet Discovery Centre in India.
International tours will take place throughout the conference week, between the hours of 10 am - 8 pm ET. Due to the significant time difference between the US and Japan, India, and Australia, international programs will pre-record their site tours and staff will share their videos and be available for Q&A during the live events. Dates and times of international tours are listed below each program name.
The Planet Discovery Centre, India
Friday, July 30 at 10:00 am ET
As we named it, "The Planet, Center for Environment Education’s Discovery Centre,” is true to its nature and objective: children come here to explore, learn, and make connections with the natural world. Set in a green campus of 14 acres of wilderness, flora and fauna, infinite fresh air, and natural light, children have opportunities to understand and appreciate how nature functions and how we share the planet with all its resources. Our children begin their day listening to the birds chirping, watching butterflies flutter around beautiful flowers, witnessing a monkey jump, seeing fish and turtles live in unison, and observing the colour of leaves change as the seasons pass.
Children spend about half of the time in the green environments and outdoors experiencing and learning. Culture and diversity are celebrated through festivals. In a day, children experience songs and stories, outdoor adventure and activities, sensory play, circle time, community engagement, and outreach.
Hiroshima University Forest Kindergarten, Japan
Thursday, July 29 at 6:00 pm ET
Embraced by the forest and surrounded by warm friends, the children play together and interact with nature. While connecting with the abundance of nature and with friends, each child shows their qualities while growing through life together and each is spiritually rich and brought up to live life vigorously. We foster play in nature in order to develop knowledge, virtue, and physical strength; along with a well-balanced ability to live. We encourage fertile emotion, motivation, and attitude through formative, motivational, and challenging experiences in nature. We nurture respect for one another as a special being and to enhance high self-affirmation. We promote warm relationships between friends and family in order to enhance relationship skills. We foster the feeling of growing up together by helping friends. We support children and parents' growth together.
Keiraville Community Preschool, NSW Australia
Wednesday, July 28 at 6:00 pm ET
Since 1952, Keiraville Community Preschool has had a commitment to nature play within our curriculum. We have been venturing beyond the fence on “Bush Preschool” in Terms 2 & 3 since 2017. Daily, a group of 10 children and 2 educators spend unhurried time in nature play using one of six play sites in the escarpment neighbouring our preschool. Aimed to foster connections, appreciation, and investment in the natural world, Bush Preschool also builds dispositions and skills for a smooth transition to school. Both within and beyond the fence, children are immersed in the wonders of the natural world and learn to identify hazards and assess risk while building their awareness of their own capabilities. A child’s capacity for joy, curiosity, and love of learning is fostered hand-in-hand with their emerging autonomy, citizenship, resilience, and sense of agency.
If you've already registered, site tours can be added to your registration at any time by contacting [email protected].