At Owl’s Hollow Early Learning we empower a life-long love of learning through positive modeling and prompting, engagement of the senses, exploration, child-led curriculum and encouragement of natural curiosity. We believe that all young children need open spaces where their imagination and creativity can flourish. Surrounded by a warm and caring community atmosphere, our all-outdoors nature preschool supports the developing social, emotional, physical and intellectual needs of early learners.
Your child will gain confidence, self-awareness, coordination, creativity, body awareness, empathy, social skills and a deeper connection with nature.
Their day may look quite different than “conventional” early learning programs/preschools, but they are learning the same things and more.
2023-2024 Program Details
3-5 years old
Days & Times + Locations
2 Day Enrollment:
Monday/Wednesday 9:30am – 1:30pm at Dungeness Recreation Area
Tuesday/Thursday 9:30am – 1:30pm at Dungeness Recreation Area
3 Day Enrollment:
Monday/Wednesday/Friday 9:30am – 1:30pm at Green Point in Agnew
September 11, 2023 – June 7, 2024
Olympic Nature Experience has tuition assistance available for low-income families. Tuition Assistance applications are due by June 1st, 2023. You will find the tuition assistance application as a part of the registration process. The Tuition Assistance Committee will make TA awards by mid-June.
- Group orientation – will come to circle on their own some of the time.
- Impulse control – will not run out into a street after being told.
- Situational awareness – can see sometimes how their actions affect others.
If your child routinely runs away from you, can not follow safety instructions such as do not go into the street or touch a fire, or has no interest or awareness of their peers, you may want to discuss with a staff member if your child is ready to join our program.
We utilize an interest-based curriculum which allows for each child to learn what they are developmentally ready for in that moment and utilizes what the natural environment has to offer in any given moment (“Oh, look, at the spider!”). Every child develops at a different pace in different areas (physical, mental, social, emotional) and our program allows for individual growth as a whole human.
While some of the activities at Owl’s Hollow may look very different than at other early learning program, the same skills are being learned. Here is a chart to help you see how our program meets or exceeds statewide early learning standards:
|Skill||Conventional Preschool (indoors)||Owl’s Hollow (outdoors)|
|Fine Motor Skills||Coloring, drawing, painting, playing with blocks or small toys.||Making nests, creating forest art, making magic wands and “fishing poles”, journaling.
|Gross Motor Skills||Climbing play structures, crawling, running, etc.||Climbing trees, hiking, mimicking animal movements, crouching to hide or crawl under/over trail obstacles.|
|Imaginative Play||Playing school/house/farm/store, etc.||Without toys, all barriers to imagination are removed. A stick can be 1000 different things to pretend, and so all imaginative play is open-ended.|
|Pre-Math Concepts (pattern recognition, number awareness, counting skills)||Blocks, pictures with patterns, games with counting such as “store”.||Plant identification (“it must have five leaves with spiky edges, not three smooth leaves”), hide and seek, noticing seasonal changes.|
|Pre-Literacy Concepts (recognizing letters, learning vocabulary, hearing and sharing stories, learning rhyming and rhythm)||Songs, making music, seeing books with letters, worksheets, or posted words/letters on the walls/chalkboard.||Journals, “story of the day”, forest songs and making forest music, hearing and telling stories, nature vocabulary.|
|Sensory Awareness||Sensory or light tables, bright colors and patterns in class.||Noticing the changes in light/dark, hot/cold, quiet/loud in different area of the forest, noticing how different objects feel, smell or look.|
|Problem-Solving/Critical Thinking||Puzzles, board games, balancing blocks, everyday problems to solve like “How do I put on my shoes?”||Everyday problems like “what will happen if I step on that slippery log?”, The Art of Tracking*, and constant practice of awareness (“is it cold here or warm?”, “what was that sound and where did it come from?”)|
* The art of tracking is the process of looking for changes and using those changes as clues to tell the larger story of the area. People often refer to tracking as looking at foot prints. That is one use, however, it can be used for anything such as the clouds rolling in might mean a storm is coming, or ground being wet means that it has recently rained, etc. Awareness and tracking are really inseparable and we teach both in high doses at nature school.
Children and adults alike learn through play. Play is the most important learning tool for children up to age 7. Through play, children learn social skills, develop their own identity, build self confidence, learn to see things from another person’s point of view (role playing) which develops empathy and compassion, and delve deeply into their unique passions (“Do I like to play teahouse or build airplanes?”).
Through play children learn complex lessons around math and literacy, physics (“when I add water, the mud gets runnier”, “that rock went farther because it was bigger”), biology (“the slug has eye stalks instead of regular eyes like me”, “the spiders die at the end of the summer”) and personal awareness (“I need to take my sweater off because I have been running”, “I am scared, will you help me”).
Yes, the children are playing, but they are learning a wealth of knowledge while they do. The benefit of allowing children to learn while immersed in a forest, is that their learning has real world context. They learn math WHILE learning two different plant species, or they learn physics with water WHILE learning about ecosystems and the bugs/animals that live in muddy water. All this WHILE they learn about their own comfort levels and body cues.
In order to encourage interactive play, we provide our students with unstructured time in nature to explore and have their own wonder-filled experiences with nature.
Safety is our highest priority and we are constantly aware of the environment and all changes that are happening including the children’s abilities and energies as well as the weather and location.
Our instructors are specially trained to recognize forest and nature dangers and prevent unnecessary risks while children play in the forest. We teach children to recognize and asses their own safety levels and ensure that the boundaries around their play are clear and followed. Some inherent risk occurs while children play in the forest, however, we feel that this risk is developmentally appropriate and satisfies children’s need for challenge and growth of their physical and emotional selves.
While it is preferred, it isn’t required. Contact us before signing up for our programs.