Preschool Ecology

Friends of Rye Nature Center offers preschool students throughout the area the opportunity to spend a morning or afternoon exploring nature and learning about ecology through experiential, hands-on fun. We use our resident animals to educate classes on animal adaptations, life cycles, and the importance of kindness toward living things. While hiking along our 47 acres of trails to ponds, the Blind Brook, or the quarry, your child will gain a deeper understanding of the natural world.


Preschoolers who are at least 3.5 years old by the start of the program (born prior to March 1, 2016) may enroll. Children will range in age from 3.5 through 5.5 in each class. Class size is limited to 15 students with two instructors per class. Volunteers and/or additional teachers will be added as necessary. Children may come once or multiple times per week. Children must bring lunch and wear clothes appropriate for exploring the outdoors.


Registration Guidelines

Spots are filled on a first come, first served basis. A complete application includes the following membership fee, a 50% down payment ($600 of which is a nonrefundable deposit), and the following four documents:


     •Registration Form

     •Medical and Emergency Contact Form

     •Signed Consent/Contract Agreement

     •A copy of your child’s immunization record (current is fine.)


Checks payable to Friends of Rye Nature Center. Credit cards are not accepted.


Please Note: If you are registering your child for more than one day, you will need to make a down payment for each day you wish to enroll.


If you are not given a spot for the program, this will be refunded to you.


You may cancel your child’s registration for a full refund less the $600 deposit fee if you notify FRNC in writing by June 1, 2019. No refunds will be available after June 1, 2019.

Membership is non-refundable.


If you enroll after June 1, full payment is due.


Optional FRNC Staff Pick-up at Local Preschools: Parents whose children attend Christ’s Church Nursery School or Rye Presbyterian Nursery School may have our staff walk their child to or from their local preschool and the Nature Center on all program days.


Educational Approach


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 utilizes a place-based philosophy—we believe children’s immediate natural surroundings promote knowledge acquisition. Our staff seeks to incorporate a framework that focuses on the learning and development of the whole child using age-appropriate activities and concepts. Our staff uses a variety of sources, including New York State’s Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core, to develop a year-long curriculum which focuses and refines the naturally inquisitive behaviors of three-and-a-half- to five-year-olds in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). In addition, we use dramatic play and songs to spark creativity and imagination. Weekly lessons include activities that will help children develop:


     •  Early literacy skills,

     •  Math and science concepts,

     •  Fine and gross motor skills,

     •  Problem-solving skills,

     •  Eco-fearlessness and eco-carefulness (e.g. children will touch and explore textures, objects, and small  

        insects with care), and

     •  The ability to make friends in a group setting and have fun.


Please note: FRNC is not a licensed preschool and is not licensed as a New York State Childcare Provider. We are not legally affiliated with any school.


Is Your Child Ready for a Long Day?


Adding a morning or afternoon ecology program to your child’s school day is a wonderful way to connect them to nature. We have found that children who enjoy our ecology program as an extension of their school day have reached several important milestones.


This program could be right for your child if:

  • Your child will be 3.5 years old by September 1, 2019 (born before March 1, 2016);

  • Your child is completely toilet trained and needs little or no assistance in the bathroom;

  • Your child can follow simple directions within a group setting;

  • Your child has some physical endurance (e.g. can walk without being carried, no longer needs a nap);

  • Your child enjoys time away from their primary caregiver and is resilient (e.g. he or she likes to be with other children, usually separates easily to go play); and

  • Your child enjoys being outside and likes animals.

  • *Please note: if your child has an aide at school, they will need an aide to be at ecology class with them as well. We do not provide individual aides or one-to-ones as part of our program. All aides must be background checked by FRNC prior to the start of the program.


Please contact Allison Rogers at (914) 967-5150 allisonrogers@ryenaturecenter.org for more information.



2019 - 2020 Program Offerings


Morning Program


Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays


9:20 a.m. - Parents drop-off children at the Rye Nature Center. Children participate in hands-on ecology lessons, take guided nature walks, enjoy arts and crafts, and each their lunches.


12:00 p.m. - Class is dismissed. Parents pickup children or Rye Nature Center staff walk children to their local preschool.


Afternoon Program 


Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays,

Thursdays, and Fridays


11:30/11:45 a.m. -  Rye Nature Center staff arrive at your local preschool to pickup your child or parents drop-off their children. Staff walk the children to the Nature Center. Children eat thier lunches, take guided nature walks and enjoy arts and crafts.


2:20 p.m. - Parents pick up children at the

Rye Nature Center.


We cannot accommodate earlier drop-off or

later pick-up times.


Students may come on multiple days.

However, we recommend that you limit your child’s enrollment to just two days per week. Lessons on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday will be different than Thursday/Friday lessons to accommodate children who attend more than once per week.

2012-10-03 10.43.04 2012-10-26 13.40.18

Registration for the 2019-2020 school year begins

January 9 at 10 a.m.