Inspiring exploration, appreciation, and conservation of our natural world.

Nature-Based Preschool Programming


Nature-Based Preschool Programming was created at the Boardman River Nature Center in 2008 in response to a growing national concern for the disconnect between children and the natural world.  The Boardman River Nature Center Preschool programs provide an ideal environment for those pivotal “first nature experiences” — the ones that last a lifetime and set children down a path of curiosity, empathy and wonder. The goals of the programming are to:

  1. Provide children with a safe environment to grow, learn, and respect people and nature.
  2. Connect children to nature to develop a lifelong passion for the environment and its stewardship.
  3. Help children recognize the natural world as part of the urban environment.

Children explore, discover, observe, and experience the natural world using all of their senses while developing an appreciation for nature. Structured and self-directed play nurtures children’s imagination, creativity, and self-esteem.


There will be two Nature-Based Preschool programs offered during the week at the Boardman River Nature Center. The Peepers program will be every Tuesday morning and the Knee-High Naturalists program will be offered every Thursday morning.

Peepers Program

The Peepers program is specifically developed for children ages 3-5. All children must be accompanied by an adult for the duration of each session. These 90-minute nature programs include stories, crafts, music, and discovery activities. Each program ends with an outside portion that will vary between a short exploratory hike, a game, or engaging play (i.e. sand table/water table, digging, etc.) to bring the lesson to life.

  • Our class size is limited to 20 students. Pre-register here.
  • Read the Peepers Blog to see what it’s all about!
  • Programs run Tuesdays from 10:00am – 11:30am from September to December at the Boardman River Nature Center
  • $5 per child per session
  • Friend’s Discount! Attend four programs get the fifth free (will receive a punch card)
  • Want the discount? Join our Friends program today!

**Weather Policy: When TCAPS is closed due to weather, the nature center and all of the education programs, including Peepers, will be cancelled.**



13th – Life Under a Log (NEW!)
20th  – Welcome Fall! (NEW!)
27th – Falling for Fruit


4th – Mini Beast Mission (NEW!)
11th  – Animal Homes (NEW!)
18th – Getting Squirrely
25th – Batty for Nature


1st – Fiber Frenzy (NEW!)
8th – Exciting Eagles (NEW!)
15th – Eyes on Owls
22nd – Turkey Time
29th – Hibernation Station


6th – The Mitten
13th – Who is Hiding Under There?

Knee-High Naturalists Program


Knee-High Naturalists is a nature-based preschool program for potty-trained 3-5 year-olds unaccompanied by a parent/guardian (drop off). It meets once a week on Thursday from 9:00am-12:00pm, for 14 weeks, starting this fall. Many of the children who come attend other preschool programs on the other weekdays. We want to facilitate their natural curiosity and joy in the world around them and help them to establish a sense of ownership of the nature center. Children in the program have the freedom to play and interact with their environment, learning to appreciate the variety and scope of the natural world.

  • Programs run every Thursday 9:00am-12:00pm starting September 15th – December 15th (No class on November 24th )

Seasonal topics, taught September through December, focus on what is happening outside of the Nature Center. We incorporate creative dramatics, songs and games, manipulatives, puppets, and an occasional animal into the programs to engage your preschoolers.

Each day will include a sharing circle, story, and time to hike and explore. We’ll use developmentally appropriate games and activities to enrich the learning about the day’s theme. From frog eggs to fox tails, we’ll be having fun and making new connections with every step! Let’s create, touch, watch, get quiet, be loud, move, build, climb, smell, and most importantly, DISCOVER.

Contact Taryn Carew for more information: 231-941-0960×24 or