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Outdoor and Nature-Based Preschools in Seattle, the Eastside and South Sound

A growing movement of nature-oriented outdoor preschools takes off

Published on: August 10, 2022

Outdoor and Nature-Based Preschools in Seattle, the Eastside and South Sound

Mercer Slough Polliwogs Preschool
Mercer Slough Polliwogs Preschool

Eastside-area outdoor preschools

Field & Forest Outdoor Preschool — Woodinville

Scandinavian and German forest kindergarten models inform classes for children ages 3–5. Children spend the day on a 5-acre wooded site, enjoying play-based learning with an emphasis on natural materials, inquiry, autonomy and community; circle time takes place in an authentic 18-foot-tall tipi. Field & Forest Outdoor Programs are an outreach of The Attic Learning Community

Roots & Wings Nature Preschool — Duvall

Roots & Wings outdoor nature program encourages children ages 4–6 to have fun and explore the natural world around them. Through nature activities for kids, including songs, stories and walks, as well as plant and animal observation, the curriculum plants seeds for children's growth and connection with nature. The preschool is currently offering classes on Wednesdays and Fridays. Roots & Wings is a program of popular Wilderness Awareness School.

Nature Explorer — Cougar Mountain Park and St. Edward State Park 

Through creative play and explorationparticipants ages 4–6 work together in small groups, gaining nature awareness and knowledge of plants, mammals, birds, and tracking and survival skills. Programs are monthly on either Fridays or Saturdays. Nature Explorer is a program of Wilderness Awareness School.

Tike Hikes Outdoor Preschool — Redmond Ridge

This Reggio-Emilia-inspired, 100-percent outdoor preschool with a nature-based curriculum is located on 5 private acres that were once a nature preserve. Classes for ages 2–5 are available in the morning, and afternoon classes are for kids ages 4–8. 

Tiny Treks Outdoor Preschool — The Enso Center Forest in Redmond 

Children ages 3–5 enjoy outdoor preschool at the Enso Center Forest, with a play and exploration curriculum patterned after the forest kindergartens of Europe. Each day, the children play outside, explore and learn in the forest, hike on trails, play along the creek and tend the garden. 

Natural Start Preschool — Eastgate Park, Bellevue

Children ages 3–5 spend 45 to 90 minutes outside during each class day; they play in the large gym at South Bellevue Community Center during extreme weather conditions. The school has access to 39 acres of natural habitat that includes forests, meadows, hiking trails and a stream, and there is a preschool garden where students grow vegetables and flowers, as well as two outdoor playgrounds and a sports field.

Cedar Valley Forest School — Maple Valley

Cedar Valley Forest School is an all-outdoors-in-all-weather forest school located at Royal Arch Park. In this "hands-in-the-earth and feet-in-the-puddles kind of program," kids ages 3–6 get dirty and learn to follow the rhythms of the Earth and seasons of nature, right down to the snacks they eat.

The Mason Jar Farm School — Enumclaw

The Mason Jar Farm School program developed out of the idea that working farms are full of experiences that  engage all of the senses. Students learn about the weather, for example, because they can feel it on their face or notice changes in the behaviors of their bird and animal friends. This play-based, all-outdoors program for children ages 3–6 convenes two mornings a week and is located on a working CSA farm that includes raised garden beds, fruit trees, chickens, rabbits, mini horses and a seasonal creek.

Nature Nuts Outdoor Preschool — Maple Valley

This South King County preschool provides year-round, mixed-age classes for students ages 2–7.  This accredited forest kindergarten program combines unstructured nature-immersion time, flow learning and an inquiry-based teaching style.

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