Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fall 2017

Forest Kindergarten: Sensory Play with mud
Welcome back to school explorers! Chesterbrook School of Natural Learning has made a lot of new changes again this year and we're excited to share them all with you! Here are some photos from the first 6 weeks of school.

Garden Tasting
Spotted Salamander

Creative Play-Forest Restaurant

Forest Kindergarten trying out our new Forest House

Discovering Insects

Observing worms in dirt

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

WILD CHILD Summer Program!

Our 2017 WILD CHILD Summer Nature-based Program is underway! We kicked off the season with Camp WILD. We had 3 groups of children, The Bear Brook Campers, The Pawtuckaway Campers and The Ellacoya State Park Rangers (one shown above). 

Pawtuckaway Campers "fishing" for Dramatic Play Mondays!

Bear Brook Campers building a "campfire"

Marshmallow Painting
Warming up by the fire

Charcoal Painting for Extreme Art Tuesdays

Making Dreamcatchers

Ice Cube Painting on Water Wednesday

Water Wednesday Sprinkler Fun

Guest Father showing us how to build a campfire without modern day materials

Barefoot Fridays!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Winter Adaptations

Cottontails learning what birds do in the winter
Our explorers of all ages have been learning what animals do in the winter! Check out just some of outdoor discoveries and classroom activities! More photos and info to be posted...

Chickadees building bird nests. How do active birds stay warm?

Life-sized bird nest for dramatic play

Pre-Kindergarteners sorting animals. Do they hibernate, migrate or adapt?

PreK found "Deer Highway" with lots of tracks and scat

We even found fresh coyote tracks

Finding loose parts in the forest for creative play

Deer Hair!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Back to School!

Welcome back to school explorers! Chesterbrook School of Natural Learning has made some big changes over the last few months. We hope you enjoy our monthly blog posts and continue to check in as we update this page with new curriculum, resources, songs, activities and information.

The first month of school has started and we are having a fantastic time learning, exploring our environment and building friendships! We started off our lessons with TREES in September. The students were able to learn about the different parts of a tree and why each is important. We learned about the different types of trees and which animals live in and visit trees. Most importantly we went out and explored all different types of trees!

This month we found some wonderful wild creatures too!
  • The children loved finding the Daddy Long-legged Spiders. We learned how to be kind to even the smallest creatures and how they are important to our world.
  • The Grey Squirrels were everywhere this year, so it gave many opportunities for the children to investigate where they may have stopped to have a snack, finding evidence of seeds shells and nuts on top of rocks, tree stumps, and under tree branches. We watched the squirrels scurry from tree to tree and heard them make chattering noises to each other.
  • We explored Birds through binoculars, creating bird feeders, looking at different bird’s nests made from moss, twigs, and other natural materials.
  • We found an Albino Porcupine sleeping in a tree and made many wonderful observations on him for several days. He is very rare, only 1/10,000 porcupines are born completely white.
  • We found a Star-nosed Mole and watched him move about using his touch senses instead of sight. We watched as he moved his snout back and forth to feel the ground in front of him.
  • We dug up Earth Worms in the soil and did a lesson on worms. We learned their body parts, what their job is to help trees and plants grow, what they eat and so much more.
  • Throughout the day the children would find their own creatures in our environment to explore; Wild Turkeys, Beetles, Butterflies, Chipmunks, Hawks and so much more!
Along with all the exploration that goes on at school we have also been getting to know each other, practicing our school routine, problem-solving, and letting the children lead through their interests!

Wiggling Worms

The "Chickadees" (PreK program) learned about and observed earthworms over the last week of September. We made an EARTHWORM "K-W-L" chart by drawing 3 columns on our chalk board. The columns were labeled "What We Know," "What We Want to Know," and "What We Learned." A more modern and scientific-friendly version of a K-W-L chart is a K-L-E-W chart which stands for what students Know, are Learning, supported by Evidence, and what they are still left Wondering. These charts access students’ prior knowledge on a particular topic and help students organize what they are learning during a science lesson or unit. 

Here you can see we learned what earthworms eat, where they live, and how they are helpful. Our PreK group observed and recorded their learning in their Nature Journals seen below. 


The Forest is a Wonderful Place
By Steve Schuch
(to the tune of “Heaven is a Wonderful Place”) 
The forest is a wonderful place
Filled with frogs and snakes 
I want to see a salamander’s face
The forest is a wonderful place (I want to go there...)
Repeat, add more parts, etc.
Last time, end with

The forest is a wonderful place... Ah!
The forest is a wonderful place... Ahhh!
The forest is a wonderful place... Ahhhhhhh!

Mud, Mud, I Love Mud
By Rick Charette
Mud, mud, I love mud!
I'm absolutely, positively wild about mud.
I can't go around it. I've got to go through it.
Beautiful, fabulous, super duper mud.

Hello World
By Red Grammer
Hello world (repeat)
My old friend (repeat)
It’s another day (repeat)
I’m glad to see you again (repeat)
The sun is up (repeat)
I’m ready to play (repeat)
So hello world (repeat)
What do you say? (repeat)

Worm Song
(To the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb")

The worms are mixing up the soil,
Up the soil, up the soil.
The worms are mixing up the soil
So we can plant our seeds.

The soil is loose and all mixed up,
All mixed up, all mixed up.
The soil is loose and all mixed up,
The seeds are growing well.

Willie Ate a Worm

Willie ate a worm today,
a squiggly, wiggly worm.
He picked it up
from the dust and dirt
and wiped it off
on his brand new shirt.
Then slurp, slurp
he ate it up,
yes, Willie ate a worm today,
a squiggly, wiggly worm.

Willie ate a worm today,
he didn't bother to chew,
and we all stared
and we all squirmed
when Willie swallowed
down that worm.
The slurp, slurp
Willie burped
yes, Willie ate a worm today,
I think I'll eat one too.
~Jack Prelutsky


  • Worms eat soil, fallen leaves, and help trees and plants grow by loosening the soil.
  • Trees are tall plants made of wood.
  • Trees can live thousands of years.
  • Trees produce oxygen and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • The roots of a tree usually grow underground, helping keep it stable and providing it with water and important nutrients.
  • Wood can be used in a number of ways including building material and energy source (such as campfire).
  • Many fruits and nuts come from trees – including apples, oranges, walnuts, pears, and peaches.
  • Many animals live in tree such as birds, squirrels, owls, bats, porcupines, and insects and worms.

Compost Stew

As we help guide children through every day routines like pouring and drinking their own water, cleaning their plate after snack and other self-help skills, we established a 3-bin waste area. Students have learned about COMPOSTING, RECYCLING & TRASH.

We read Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals. This book helped the students understand what compost is, how it helps reduce trash & helps the plants and Earth. Throughout the month children have practiced sorting their waste into each bin and disposing of it properly. Great Work Explorers!


  • Painting tree barks
  • Making bird feeders
  • Painting with rubber worms
  • Making leaf prints using a hammer
  • Rolling painted acorns on paper
  • Building a bird’s nest using mud and found materials
  • Creating fairy sticks
  • Using twigs to paint and draw
  • Bat prints
  • Coffee filter butterflies

Friday, May 20, 2016

Oh Deer!

Oh Deer!

Children explore the parts of habitat in a physical activity

Building a new shelter

Quick Facts

All animals need food, water, shelter and space. An animal's habitat is a place that provides the right food, water, shelter and space for that particular animal. In this activity, children explore the four components of a habitat using deer as an example. Deer are widespread throughout North America. Where they live, their environment provides the four habitat parts the deer need.

Food: Deer are herbivores, which means they only eat plants. They will eat almost anything available including leaves, bark, twigs, flowers, acorns, nuts, grasses, ferns, shrubs and aquatic plants. Deer must have a varied diet so that they can get all of the nutrients they need. Their habitat must contain a variety of vegetation for them to eat. 

Water: Deer need water. Their habitat must have a water source like a stream or pond. Sometimes they get water from snow, dew, or rain that collects on plants or on the ground.

Shelter: Deer need protection from intense sun and harsh weather. They use groups of trees for shade and cover. Does hide their fawns in tall grasses or shrubs to keep them safe from predators such as Mountain Lions and Black Bears. Deer habitats must contain suitable shelter. Deer also use their keen senses of hearing and smell to detect danger and can run very quickly if they need to escape.

Space: Because deer need to eat lots of plants, they must have plenty of space to find enough food. A typical range for a White-tailed or Mule Deer is about one square mile.

Checking on our old shelter near the field 

Favorite Animal Habitat

Children think about their favorite animal. Where does it live? What does it eat? Where does it find the water it needs to drink? How much space does it need to move around and find all the things it needs to survive? Children drew their favorite animal in its habitat. Then presented their artwork explaining how their favorite animal lives.

Favorite Animal Habitat

Take Me Outside: Playground Deer Herd

Imagine that there is a small herd of deer living on our playground. Think about what the deer would do here. What would they eat? Is there water for them to drink? Are there places for them to hide or sleep? What would they do if it rains or snows? Think about how the deer act with each other. How do they tell each other things? Do they play together? Do they have families? How do they move around? Let's pretend we are the herd of deer and this is our habitat. We can prance, stroll, and play like deer while we explore our habitat!

Habitat Headbands!

Habitat Headbands

We've been participating in many activities that help us strengthen our fine motor skills and better prepare us for using scissors. This week we made Habitat Headbands that remind us of the four components all living things need to survive. Children colored each component card and used our new modified easy-grip scissors to cut them apart. Then we stapled them onto their headband.

Practicing scissor skills 

Strengthening Fine Motor Skills 

Home Connections

Journal: Look for a wild animal living in your yard. You might find a bird, squirrel, or an ant. Watch it for a few minutes. Draw a picture of it in its habitat.

Habitat Hunt: Take a walk in your neighborhood with a grown-up to see what food, water shelter and space there might be for a deer. Could a deer live in your neighborhood? Why or why not? Ask friends and family members if they have ever seen a deer in your area.

Deer Ears

Explore how a deer's ears help it in its environment. Have you noticed that deer have large ears? How might those big ears help the deer? Stand about 20 feet away from your child and speak in a soft voice and see if they can hear what you are saying. Then have the children cup their hands and place them behind their ears to amplify the sound. Show them how deer can move their ears forward and backward to listen all around. Have your child move their cupped hands around to find the best positions for hearing your soft voice. Try standing farther and farther away to see if they can still tell what you are saying.

Beginning to build our own shelter

Music & Movement: Houses

Here is a nest for robin.
(cup both hands)
Here is a hive for a bee.
(fists together)
Here is a hole for bunny;
(finger and thumb make circle)
And here is a house for me.
(fingertips together to make a roof)

Building Fairy Houses

Fairy Houses by Tracy Kane

Habitat "Duck, Duck, Goose"

We played a habitat version of Duck, Duck, Goose. We went around the circle saying, "Food, Water, Shelter, Space, (and so on)" as we tapped our friends on the head. When we picked whoever was going to chase us we said, "HABITAT!"

Tick Check

At the end of each day we (the children and I) do a quick tick check on each other. It's very important you continue to check your child throughout the day. After school my girls and I change our clothes, do a full body check and put our clothes into the washing machine immediately. At the end of the day I give the girls a shower or bath as a final check before they go down for bed.
It is helpful when the children wear light-colored clothing to school. Please keep your child's loose hair tied back. Long sleeves, full length pants and socks are preferred. This is also helpful in preventing mayfly and mosquito bites. You can also spray your child's clothes with a bug repellent before coming to school.
Here is a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on tick safety. TIC SAFETY