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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Forest School

Picture your favorite part of late summer.   Maybe it’s the lazy dips in swimming holes, or nibbling wild blackberries, or listening to the crickets serenade you at twilight.   As the days begin to shorten and summer begins is transition to autumn, we at the Nature Center are gearing up for one of our favorite parts of fall: the beginning of Forest School!  These programs empower children (3.5 to 7 years old) to learn by exploring the natural world around them.  Children will use their five senses while they explore the myriad of habitats on the North Branch Nature Center’s property, care for animals and plants, find insects and tracks, work on art and building projects, perform science experiments and dive into imaginative play.
We are looking forward to embarking on our third year of Forest Preschool.  The Forest Preschool meets every Thursday from 9 am – 12 pm for twelve weeks, spanning from Sept. 20th to Dec. 13th.   We welcome students aged 3.5 to 5 years old.  The morning is play-based, focusing on exploration, developing a keen use of one’s senses, building, creating art projects, and delving into imaginative play. 
The North Branch Nature Center is launching a Forest School pilot program for children between the ages of 5 and 7 years old.  This program meets from 9 am – 2 pm every Thursday from Sept. 11th to June 4th.  This program is an outdoor, place-based program that uses seasonal and emergent curriculum to meet each child’s innate desire to learn about the world around him.  As a community of learners, we strive to create a place for an authentic discovery of one’s self, each other and the natural world.   
Both of these programs are taught by North Branch Nature Center teacher, Lindsey Vandal, and Americorps volunteer, Zach Johnston.  Lindsey brings over 9 years of experience in the outdoor education world and looks forward to sharing her love for the natural world with young enthusiasts.  Zach Johnston is returning for his second year at North Branch and is excited to be a part of both Forest School programs. 
The Forest School and the Forest Preschool programs are the first of their kind in Vermont.   Our mission is to provide enriching learning experiences in nature.  We are guided by the principles of having children spending a large portion of the day outside, using the natural environment as our classroom, engaging students with “hands-on” experiential education, and celebrating and capitalizing on the countless opportunities to sing, dance, imagine, explore and play!  Rooted in the Forest School traditions that started in the 1950s in Scandinavia and Germany, our program also utilizes place-based and play-based elements, emergent curriculum and inquiry-driven learning.
If you are interested, or think that your child would like to participate in the Forest School or Forest Preschool, please check out our website: www.northbranchnaturecenter.org.  You can also email Lindsey at Lindsey@northbranchnaturecenter.org or call her at (802) 229-6206.

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