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Nature Play & Learning


Nature play at TCS is play with purpose!


In our classrooms, in our science program, in our outdoor play space and gardens, in the woods, on field trips -- no matter the venue at The Children's School, our time in nature is time well spent.


We learn cooperatively and creatively. We navigate healthy risk-taking. We build our muscles for climbing trees, experiencing joy, and asking questions. Our health and our curiosity are nurtured along the way as we build community and learn to take action for the environment and our neighbors.  

Here are some of the many ways we connect kids with the natural world at The Children's School.
Explore with us!

Nature Play and Learning: Our Outdoor Space


The Bluff, the upper level of our outdoor courtyard, includes our water play space with a hand water pump, sluice, and boat, our mud kitchen, and our sand play area. Each space invites imaginative play that also develops problem-solving skills, math concepts (like capacity and volume), fine motor skills, and emotional literacy. 

The Bluff

Part outdoor classroom, part woodchip/lava pit, part building space. The Riverside is home to collaborative fort making, gross motor skill development, heavy work activities, creative game development, and a lot of laughter! TCS students have built teeter-totters, multi-room forts, gaga ball pits, epic obstacle courses, and wonderful friendships here. 

The Riverside

Our front yard on Oak Park Avenue holds a raised garden bed (thanks to a grant from Deep Roots Project) and a pocket prairie (thanks to a grant from West Cook Wilds Ones).  The TCS community comes together to plant, water, and care for our gardens as our students learn about life cycles, native plants, food insecurity, conservation, and eco-justice.

The Gardens

Nature and Science Weave Throughout our Curriculum

Weekly class trips to the woods spark children's imagination, creativity, and sense of wonder. Free play and exploration in nature develop observational skills, an appreciation for life and the environment. Group time in the woods builds collaboration and leadership ability. Students also help the forest preserve district in stewardship activity, cleaning out opportunistic plants and litter.

The Woods

Class field trips to botanic gardens, green industries and architecture, agricultural co-ops, and more, are often part of our school year. This demonstrates to our students the wider applications an understanding of nature can bring to community building, solving today's problems, and new career opportunities.

Field Trips

Classrooms are indoor venues for sprouting new plants, caring for a class pet, hatching butterflies and praying mantises, or raising trout minnows for conservation studies. Nature sciences frequently form the foundation of both group and individual project work. Whenever possible, teachers look for ways to integrate related nature studies and environmental stewardship into project topics.


Follow "Forest News"
with Mr. Will Hudson 


Meet Mr. Will Hudson, our Middle Level Science teacher. Enjoy his insights in "Forest News" as he leads science-based exploration both during our time at school and in the woods.

More TCS Nature Play & Learning News!

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