Little Trees

Nature-based Early Learning Program  (3–5 years)

Program Philosophy
The mission of Little Trees is to help young children develop a deep and meaningful relationship with nature through outdoor play and child-directed discovery, creating a foundation for a lifetime of environmental stewardship.  To achieve this, children will be immersed in daily exploratory experiences within The Morton Arboretum’s vast natural environment.   

a child wearing a backpack and galoshes staring up at a tree

We believe: 

  • Children are the hope for the future of our trees.
  • Children should learn in a nature-based, child-centered atmosphere that is positive, peaceful and productive.
  • Children should learn early science (STEM) concepts both through spontaneous exploration and in guided experiences. 
  • Teachers should support an environment conducive to improving children’s critical and cooperative thinking, cognitive skills, and social and emotional communication.
  • Children should be allowed to interact with and observe nature, increasing their self-confidence and growth mindset through exploration.
  • Teachers should support the children’s progress throughout their learning journey with thoughtful planning, observation, documentation, evaluation, and reflection. 
  • Activities should encourage children’s personal growth based on their individual abilities and interests.
  • It's essential that the children are valued, nurtured, and respected as individuals. We appreciate the uniqueness of each child and celebrate a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures.
  • It’s essential for teachers to partner with families, providing a solid base of communication, support, and encouragement for each child. 
  • Teachers should be positive role models who display emotional intelligence and conscientious actions.

Program Statement

Our program is designed to promote learning by providing an environment that encourages discovery and experimentation.  While exploring several different inquiry units throughout the year, children will have the chance to help shape the content by communicating their interests in each theme.  No matter what the topic, we will explore each theme by taking nature walks, studying natural phenomena, and engaging in activities that build physical, social-emotional, and cognitive skills.  Our program will include activities intended to engage children and take them to the next level of understanding based on their abilities and interests.

Requirements: Participants must be age 3 and toilet trained by September 1, 2018.  Children must have outdoor clothing and shoes suitable for all weather conditions. 
Recommended ages: 3–5 years old 
Course number: Y070

SCHEDULE AND LOCATION:
Section A:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, September 4, 2018 through May 9, 2019, 9:15 to 11:45 a.m.
Section B:  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, September 5, 2018 through May 10, 2019, 9:15 to 11:45 a.m.
Thornhill Education Center
Orientation for registered participants will take place in August.

FEES AND ADMISSION:
Fee is per child.  This program is exclusive to Arboretum members. See membership information for detailsLimit 10 children per session.  Tuition is paid in (3) seasonal installments. 

Section A:  $2,990, member child
Section B:  $4,125, member child  

REGISTRATION INFORMATION:
CALL: Meg Gessler, Early Childhood Education Coordinator, 630-719-2462