Events and Programs

Awbury Nature Days

Exploration, Discovery, and Nature Connection

for ages 3-5 in AdventureWoods!

About

Awbury Nature Days provides a joyful outdoor learning experience for ages three to five to explore and play in the beautiful forest of Awbury Arboretum. This nature- based program is inspired by the European “Forest Kindergartens” and is led by a seasoned forest school educator.   

We believe that the impact of learning outdoors is powerful and enduring for children- nurturing a lifelong connection to nature, meaningful relationships with others and a strong sense of self

Approach to Learning

The curriculum is developed throughout the year, guided by the children’s genuine interests and the changing seasons.   The fall offers us seed pods and leaves to collect and study, in winter we follow animal tracks in snow, and in spring we measure the growth of new sprouts and buds as the forest comes to life.  Teachers facilitate and grow the children’s natural curiosity and deepen their skills in observation, reflection, collaboration and expression.  

In addition to the curriculum that emerges from the children, Nature Days provides children with ongoing opportunities to engage in:

  • Mindfulness
  • Art Making
  • Building
  • Scientific observation
  • Singing
  • Storytelling… and more!

Environment

The dynamic physical environment of the forest offers endless possibilities for the children to learn their own strength, take supported risks, and develop grit, stamina, resilience and bravery!  To learn more about the Awbury AdventureWoods landscape, click HERE.

Enrollment 

Nature Days serves a small group of 10-12 children with two experienced teachers, four days a week from 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Classes are fully outdoors and will run in all weather.

  • Tuition is $7,850 yearly.  Following a $500 deposit, the balance can be paid in full or by automatic monthly payment
  • Early Bird Discount!  Sign up by March 15th and receive $250 off
  • Financial aid may be available to families in the local zip codes 19138 and 19144
  • Two discounted spots are available for families that sign up to become Nature Days “substitutes” to provide assistance if a teacher needs to be out ($500 off of total yearly tuition)

Requirements for enrollment:  

– Potty trained

– Age 3.5 by September 1st (or developmentally “ready”)

To learn more about the program, contact Rachel at naturedays@awbury.org

Staff

Director/ Lead Teacher

Rachel Schwartzman has been working as a teacher in progressive schools for the past 20 years; as an art teacher, classroom teacher and forest school director in New York and Philadelphia.  Recently, her work has focused on supporting early childhood programs in deepening their relationship to materials, inquiry and the outdoors.  Her work is inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy and the outdoor learning environments in Sweden.  Most recently, Rachel has worked to bring outdoor education to public school kindergartners through ERAFANS, a nature based teacher training program.  

After many years of teaching indoors, Rachel has come to feel that there is truly no better place to learn and grow for both children and adults than in nature!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Will the children need to wear masks and be socially distanced at Nature Days?

We will follow all of the  guidelines from the CDC and CHOP’s recommendations for Covid safety.  We hope that by September we may be mask free, but that is still unknown.  At this time, masks are required at Nature Days until that protocol is lifted throughout the city.  That said, we will have specific times for “mask breaks”   such as at morning meetings, at days end when the children are engaged in a mindfulness activity called “sit spots” as well as at snack time when they are sitting spaced apart.

What will happen if there is inclement weather?

We plan to be out in most weather.  The Scandinavians say “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”   We will be geared up appropriately to stay warm and dry in most weather.  Check out THIS gear guide to learn more about gear (a more succinct suggested gear list will be shared with enrolled families)  

In the event that extreme weather is forecast (extreme cold, extreme wind or lightning), Nature Days will be cancelled and a remote gathering will occur instead.  In the rare event that extreme weather surprises us, we will take shelter at the nearby Cope House or we will retreat to our cozy tent shelter.

What does the program look like in winter?

Keeping the children warm and dry is our priority.  We have several strategies to keep the children warm on the coldest days and these include

  • Gear:  We will make sure all the children are dressed strategically with base layers, mid layers, and outer layers, wearing wool socks and insulated boots, warm waterproof mittens, hand and toe warmers, etc.  We work with families to educate and guide them to obtain the needed gear for success!  
  • Keep them moving!  Teachers are strategic about how the winter days are structured to make sure the children are moving and never in a sedentary activity for more than 10 minutes at a time.
  • Warm beverages: We provide warm tea on all winter days.
  • Fire pit:  Learning fire safety is an important part of the Nature Days winter curriculum.  We often will make a fire with the children on cold days, prepare our tea and cook warm foods at the fire pit as well.  We are warmed by the fire while maintaining a safe distance.
  • Shelter:  On days that are borderline “too cold,” we may opt to have part of our time outdoors, and part of our time in the cozy yurt space.  The yurt is heated with a wood stove and provides a respite from frosty temperatures.

What is the bathroom/hand washing situation? Will children go individually or in groups?

There is a porta potty at our site.  The children will go individually and have the support of one adult when they need to use the potty.  Hands will be wiped and sanitized before and after bathrooming.  

 

Hands will also be wiped and sanitized before and after snack time.