Forest Preschool

Registration for the 2018 - 2019 school year is now open.


Hiking the forest, catching dragonflies, digging for worms, listening to songbirds – these are some of the activities that fill our preschoolers’  time at the Rye Nature Center. Our new, five-day morning Forest Preschool is an opportunity for children to make these activities the foundation of their early development. Our Forest Preschool is unlike any other preschool program – children will be in an outdoor, natural setting over 50% of their class week, year round.



Friends of Rye Nature Center believes that the best way to foster a lifelong connection to nature is by engaging in meaningful outdoor activities as a child. Our curriculum is based on the Swiss concept of forest kindergartens.  This educational model utilizes experiential, place-based, student-led activities with nature as the primary setting to create a dynamic for children to grow and succeed.

  • Place-based philosophy—We believe children’s immediate natural surroundings promote knowledge acquisition.  

  • Nature is the primary teacher—We believe that the outdoors is the principle setting where childhood experiences and learning occurs, and this early connection and understanding will    shape our futures.  

  • Learn by doing – We believe that experiential education develops gross and fine motor skills and allows for the mastery of STEAM and literacy skills.



Our staff creates a dynamic prioritizing the development of the whole child.  In addition to the best practices established by nature educators around the world, we use a variety of sources to inform each class, including New York State’s Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core.  We then develop a year-long curriculum which targets and refines the naturally inquisitive behaviors of three- to five-year-olds so that there is a cumulative acquisition of literacy, science, technology, engineering, art, and math concepts.  Songs, dramatic play, and project work (e.g. fort-building, gardening) are also central to each class.  All activities are designed to help children develop:

  • Early literacy skills,

  • Math and science concepts,

  • Fine and gross motor skills,

  • Problem-solving skills,

  • Eco-fearlessness and eco-carefulness,

  • Empathy and friendship, and

  • Resiliency and independence.

Five Mornings a Week

September through June

9:15 am - 12:00 pm




9:15 – 9:30 am

Class drop-off and morning meeting outside in the playground, tent, or garden.


9:30 – 10:00 am

Hike through the FRNC woods to collect leaf

and seed samples.


10:00 – 10:30 am

Examine samples with magnifying glasses at picnic tables. Discuss living and non-living things. Fine motor manipulative activity: counting/sorting of samples.


10:30 – 11:15 am

Literacy project using collected samples. Dramatic play and songs.


11:15 – 11:45 am



11:45 am – 12:00 pm

Story time and closing meeting. Prepare to leave for the afternoon.

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