Nature Preschool

A truly unique play-based program for every wild child. Students will engage in authentic play with Mother Nature as their classroom, as they navigate the outdoor world with a sense of wonder. Natural materials will enhance their experiences as they make discoveries alongside a mixed age of peers ranging from 3-6 years old. This experience will foster a love for learning and a deep respect for nature and all living things. While this is a child-led program, and their interests will guide our daily adventures, our teachers will facilitate and help build on their discoveries to provide quality experiences for all areas of learning.

W.I.L.D. Child Nature Preschool prides itself in celebrating childhood, encouraging and embracing the mess, and nurturing a child's sense of Wonder, Investigation, Learning, and Discovery through PLAY. Our day is spent 100% outdoors (with the exception of severe weather or temperatures) hiking, exploring, looking for adventure, and PLAYING!  Rain or shine, during the course of this program your child will be exposed to a wide variety of natural experiences — nature walks, sensory-play, creating process art, science investigations and truly letting their imaginations run wild! Students will spend the majority of their time engaging in supervised, unstructured play in nature. We will also spend time in our outdoor classroom in the Smith House yard of Bill Yeck Park to explore, manipulate, and engage in our invitation to play stations. These stations will provide opportunities for growth and discovery in the areas of math, literacy, science, sensory, process art, and fine and gross motor strengthening. While we do not adhere to one "curriculum" or method of teaching, we use an eclectic mix of inquiry based, Reggio inspired, nature driven ideas and manipulatives!    

We believe a mixed age group of children 3-6 provides wonderful experiences of community, friendship, and growth. Children who are both independent in bathroom use, and 3 years of age by September 30th of the current calendar year are able to join.

Our lottery for enrollment for the 2023/24 year will open January 16th.
Get More information about our 2023/24 Programming

Events & Classes

Additional events have been suspended due to COVID-19 , check out our store for at home activity kits & playdough kits.

Get info about 2023/24

For preschool programming
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Time To get Messy

Explore a Wild Child Day

Drop-off/Check Gear
Sign In/Free Play
Snacks And Stories
Investigation Stations
Farewell Gathering / Dismissal

Parent Reviews

We love Wild Child! At the traditional preschool my son attended he would cry at drop off and be the first to run to me at pick up. Now he is so excited to get dropped off every morning and asks to stay a bit longer at pick up. He has come home with new vocabulary and it constantly tell us about his adventures at school. Watching him learn outside and with such a supportive staff makes my heart about burst. They truly take the time to identify what works for each child and nurtures that child as an individual. Cannot recommend this program enough!

Alexandra, Centerville

The Wild

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Investigating Apples with Preschoolers

Hi! I’m Nicole, teacher at WILD Child Nature Preschool and today I am sharing one of my favorite fall topics to explore with preschool-aged children. I honestly can’t think of a tastier and more engaging unit than apples in the fall! The sweet smell of cinnamon sprinkled through out our day, just makes everything that much sweeter!


At WILD Child Nature Preschool, our WILD Flower class (ages enjoyed a wide variety of sensory rich investigation stations involving apples as the season began changing from summer to fall. What is an invitation station? I’m so glad you asked! We set up stations with many open ended materials and invite students to explore and play. The amazing part is sometimes the children's play turns out completely different than the way we had intended it, and guess what? That is OK! Play can take on many forms, we try not to interrupt play and truly let their imaginations run wild.  


Below I am going to walk you through some of our favorite apple investigations that are so fun to create at school, or home!

Apple Stamping

Stamping with Apples

This a fun activity to do the same day you are taking a closer look at the insides of apples. Slice your apples in half, and provide plates of red, yellow, and green paints. Allow children to stamp anyway their little hearts desire. This art is all about the process, no need for perfect little prints.

Extension idea, if discussing patterns, you could encourage the child(ren) to stamp an apple pattern! Or start a pattern with real apples and have them continue the pattern with their paint.

Apple Patterns & Name Puzzles

Henry Name Puzzle

Cut out a simple apple shape in different colors  and work on patterns! These apple shapes are also great for creating name puzzles! Each day our friends have a morning sign in activity that helps them learn to recognize, organize, & write their names.

Apple Pie Sensory Play

A huge crowd pleaser is our Apple Pie Sensory Bin! Students loved using 4 of their senses in this fun and engaging activity. The sweet smell of cinnamon is the perfect addition that’s sure to have your little baker exploring for hours!  Grab your free printable of our recipe cards

Apple Pie Recipe Cards

Want to make your own?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Container with lid
  • Oats mixed with cinnamon spice
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Pie pans
  • Strips of tan felt
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Mini apples or Pom Poms
  • Small basket (if you wish)

Our students enjoyed using their big muscles to crank & core their own apples with this apple peeler. Talk about gross motor work! Last year we made homemade applesauce in the Instant Pot & this year they made their very own apple pies!

Mini Apple Pies

We love to incorporate cooking as much as possible with our kiddos. Reading a recipe, measuring, listening to directions, and patience are just a few amazing skills that kids are learning while cooking!  

Miss Nikki’s Mini Apple Pies Recipe:

Apple Tasting & Graphing

A super tasty extension activity! For this we gathered a variety of different apples and sliced them up for the class to taste! We chatted about describing words and asked the kiddos to describe how each variety tasted to them, we recorded those answers, it was fun to share with their parents! Next we made a graph on chart paper and polled the class on which apple was their favorite, and graphed the results!

Our favorite Apple Books

Finally, take a trip to a local apple orchard for a field trip! Pack a picnic and enjoy the grounds, have your little one help pick apples and chat about counting as you go! On the way home talk about all the yummy things you can make with the apples you just picked! Some of our favorites are apple butter, applesauce, & apple crisp!

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Bird Study

Our Bird Study Part 1

As the snow melted away here in Ohio, we flew into a new study: BIRDS. Our friends were so excited to take flight and discover new things about these fascinating winged creatures. We began our study by making a list of what they know, and what they wanted to learn. This is a great way to let the kiddos be “the teacher” for a moment and talk about what they know to their friends, it then allows them to make decisions and be in charge of what we’re going to learn about next! During our discussion, they determined they wanted to learn how birds make their nests, what they eat, which birds live “here”, and why birds make different sounds. I also like to do this brainstorming meeting towards the end of the week, giving me the weekend to prepare for our study!


Each week we have been choosing one bird to dive a little deeper on, we do this by reading picture books, checking out their page in our take a long guide 'Birds, Nests & Eggs' observing them in nature, listening to their calls, and some short fact discussions during morning time! Journaling can start at any age, and is a great way to allow kiddos to draw/ sketch their ideas, and narrate what they know. We also encourage some independent writing/ copying for our friends who are showing interest in this area of learning. We use teacher-directed drawing, which focuses on encouraging and modeling big shapes and some details in pencil first, color second. Our friends have done a fabulous job journaling about The American Robin & The Northern Cardinal.

More of our favorite bird books

Birds, Nests & Eggs - By: Mel Boring

Bird Builds a Nest - By: Martin Jenkins

Big Book of Birds - By:Yuval Zommer

Feeding the Birds: Paper Tube Feeders

This super simple, yet oh so fun, and sensory thrilling activity is one for any kiddo to try and hang in their own backyard!


  • Paper Tubes
  • Shortening
  • Birdseed
  • Twine


Spread shortening onto the tube, then roll in birdseed. String twine through the tube, and hang on a tree! Easy peasy!

Dipping our paper tubes in birdseed
Hanging our feeders for the birds to snack on.

How do birds make their nests?

The book ‘Bird Makes a Nest’ is the perfect first introduction to bird nests. I was super impressed by the beautiful illustrations and simple-to-understand, yet informative text! We read it during our morning time, and got our friends excited about making their very own nests! We took a hike in the woods to collect materials for our nest, and stopped along the way to sit and listen to the birds! I love stopping in nature to get quiet and just LISTEN! Pro tip: close your eyes too, it adds to the fun!) During our hike, we encouraged our friends to think about the materials they were finding, and determine whether or not they thought a bird would be strong enough to carry that item or not! They gathered items like twigs, pine branches, moss, leaves, & grass.

Air Dry Clay Nest


  • Air Dry Clay
  • Natural material (moss, sticks, pine needles, dried flowers, weeds, …)

ere pleased with the shape of their nest they used the loose material to decorate their nests. A few friends even made some mini air dry eggs for their nest. The end result was amazing and each one very unique.

Air Dry Clay Nests
Air Dry Clay Nests
Making thier nests

“Can you make a Nest?” Invitation

Our “Loose Parts Cart” got a makeover for this unit! We filled it with tons of building materials, our favorite birds, and wooden eggs to invite friends to build their own pretend nests! It was such a fun invitation station our friends gladly accepted the challenge! They were so bummed at pick-up when it was time to clean this area up, and we quickly reassured them that this cart set-up was here to stay for a little while!

Process Art: Painting with Feathers


  • Paint
  • Large Paper
  • Feathers
  • Paint Tray or Plate

The beauty of process art is that it is more about the process than the product. We love setting up simple art like this, and letting the kiddos just “go for it” no rhyme or reason, just dive in and truly enjoy the process of creating something! Our friends pretended they were birds whose wings were dipped into paint and they were painting the sky with their feathers! It was great fun!

Painting with Feathers
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Yoga in the WILD

Yoga at Wild Child

Have you ever noticed the smell of grass in the springtime, the taste of a raindrop on your tongue, the sound of a squirrel scurrying up a tree, the feel of the wind on your skin, or the sight of the clouds changing shapes?  The children call this a “Mindful Minute” and we learn to use all five of our senses when we take a moment to stop and notice.  This is such an important tool to learn at an early age. Research has shown that young children who learn these techniques have strengthened resilience, greater calm in stressful situations, have a greater ability to focus their attention, and even self-soothe.  I strive to incorporate a mindful minute in every yoga class at Wild Child.

Breathing techniques are also an important skill we learn in yoga.  The slow inhales and exhales we take as we trace the outline of a simple leaf we find while playing in the fall leaves can help our tiny bodies to learn a simple way for our nervous systems to calm.  In springtime we may practice a breathing technique where we slowly inhale the scent of a fresh flower and slowly exhale as we blow a fluffy dandelion.  Again, learning a simple way for our bodies to naturally relax and calm.  

Yoga at Wild Child is not all about stillness, though.  Children are naturally wanting to move and do not have the capability to be still and focus for very long.  That’s why it’s important for us also to practice gross motor skills and balance.  Fun movement songs, simple yoga poses, as well as balance skills keep the little ones engaged during our yoga sessions.  Poses are usually based on seasonal themes.  For example, child’s pose might be called leaf pose in the fall while we study leaves.  Balance skills may be practiced while we practice “snowflake pose” on the ice that covers the small creek in the winter.

Respect for nature and the world around us as well as ourselves and others is the final component in a Wild Child yoga class.  We practice this by using the well-known yoga word “Namaste” to end our classes.  This word simply translates to “the light in me, honors the light in you.”  It’s a simple reminder for all to remember that our own “light” shines bright as we respect ourselves and the wonderful world and people around us.  

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