Einstein once said “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

For kids, time outside in the meadow, puddle jumping in the wetlands, or exploring in the forest is a journey of a million discoveries.

“There is a growing body of research indicating the incredible power nature has on healthy physical, cognitive, and social emotional development,” says Katie Rooney, Irvine’s Director of Early Childhood Education Programs. “Regular time in nature provides children with opportunities to increase balance and physical strength, assess risk, problem solve, think creatively, cooperate, and even improves their ability to empathize with others. Plus all that time in nature jump starts a life-long passion for caring for it. A playful relationship with nature as a child catalyzes future stewardship; the more children feel a part of nature, the more they want to secure its future.”

Lucky for us, the educational team at Irvine Nature Center have found a way to foster kids’ adventure — while supporting their learning through their nature-based infant, toddler, and preschool programs. Check out what they are offering this fall!

Toddler and Preschool Programs at Irvine Nature Center - (cool) progeny

Cool Nature Programs for Preschoolers and Toddlers at Irvine Nature Center

Nature Preschool

Climbing trees, catching frogs and making mud pies — the things childhood is made of. Can you imagine an inquiry-based preschool built around the philosophy that being out in nature is the best way to learn? Welcome to the Nature Preschool at Irvine!

Designed for kids ages 3-5, the Nature Preschool is a perfect combination of learning and exploration. Attributes of learning are comparable to Reggio Emilia, Montessori and Waldorf approaches.

However, remember that kids are outside every day. Children will be exposed to hay, pollen, animal dander, seeds and other potential allergens. If you have a child whose immune system is sensitive, this may not be a learning environment where he or she will thrive.

The Nature Preschool offers full and half-day learning options. The school offers rolling admission. Children must be 3 years old and toilet proficient prior to attending the program.

Enroll your 3 – 5 year old in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday morning or Monday/Wednesday afternoon preschool class before September 4th and get a free week!

Little Birds

If your child isn’t quite three, check out Irvine’s Little Birds program — a “caregiver and me program” designed for families with wee ones. Infants and toddlers explore nature with their favorite adult during a 12-week semester of outdoor learning. What better way to learn about the seasons than through an up-close and personal adventure through Irvine’s gorgeous campus? Live animal encounters, nature walks, songs, stories and art projects are all part of the fun!

Best part? Classes are offered daily during the week from 10 AM – 11:30 AM, so you can enroll in one that works with your schedule. Please note that this is not a drop-in program. You must register in advance.

Fall semester starts on September 17th! Sign up for a semester of Little Birds before September 4th and receive one class free!

Forest Dreamers Program

If your child just can’t get enough of the outdoors, Irvine’s Forest Dreamers program might be a perfect fit! This an immersive nature program (read: everything takes place outside!). Designed for children ages 4-6, the program fosters wild nature play spanning 210 acres takes place in the forest, meadows and wetlands over a 12-week fall and/or spring semester.

This is a drop-off, half-day program where kids roam Irvine’s vast wild habitats making their own special connections to the earth, explore ponds and streams, play in the meadow, climb trees, examine leafy treetops and more alongside two of Irvine’s guides.

If you’re looking for a fall day of nature adventuring, you can combine a half-day Nature Preschool and Forest Dreamers Program through Irvine’s new “Busy Squirrel” option! Enroll your child in their Monday/Wednesday class and get a class free!

For more information, visit Irvine’s website or contact Katie Rooney at [email protected] or 443-738-9223.



This article is sponsored by Irvine Nature Center, who wanted to get the word out about their Nature programs for toddlers and preschoolers. Read more about the in our Baltimore Family Guide!