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The New Naturalist Outdoor Educational Program

This program was first scheduled to launch at our future expanded site on Skyline Blvd., where children would explore nature in its natural state. The location was to be landscaped and leveled into different stretches; some areas even with slopes to explore. A boardwalk would have allowed children access from one extreme of the property to the other lower areas. A rock-climbing platform was meant to be constructed, enhancing the playground area and allowing nature to be much appreciated year-round in a new, fun, and exciting way. This project was unfortunately delayed for almost two years, before it was halted completely by COVID. On the bright side, children who attend Skyline are still able to enjoy the outdoors and the hiking trails on the property as well as the ones next to it. They are able to spot various animals including wild turkeys, scavenging ravens and crows, along with different species of birds, and an abundance of crawly creatures found in the forest trails along the property.

Monte Tavor Forest Preschool Program
Monte Tavor Forest Preschool Program

Forest Preschool Program

The naturalist outdoor program will evolve to be Monte Tavor’s 1st Forest Preschool Program. It will be a nature-based forest program, but a hybrid or bridge between a 100% forest program and a setback one. We will make great use of the miles of East Bay Parks hiking trails located right next to the property, through our access gate at Lexford Pl. This access gate will eliminate the need for children to cross any street or for parents to drive to a park location. The children will be dropped off on the onsite road and will have direct access to the outdoors and trails alongside the property. The 1,500 sq. ft. converted garage under the big deck and the additional 1,800 sq. ft. of covered space will be part of our Base Camp #1, which will also serve as a shelter during unfavorable weather.


This new program will bring us back to being more nature-oriented and expand our current Naturalist Outdoor Educational Program. Children will continue to be challenged with one of the multiple intelligences on how children learn, as described by Howard Gardner and his whole approach and inquiry on the multiple intelligences. This program will touch on the gardener side of learning, the outdoor kid, and the nature-based learner. However, the current curriculum will remain the same. This means that children’s learning will still include literature, writing, reading, math, science concepts, nature at its natural state for observation and exploration, painting/ drawing using more organic types of paints (e.g., using flowers, herbs, and plant-based paint), the dramatic play, (which will mostly take place at base camp in the covered spaces), music in the woods, and dance in the extended deck. This deck is currently under reconstruction (1,500 square feet). ·


Teachers being brought on board are those currently being trained on forest-oriented curriculum for toddlers and preschoolers. In addition to these new staff members are Liz, Yaneth, Griselda, and Yeira. They have been training and taking part in the online program from the Mass Audubon in Massachusetts. This forest program has been the pioneering training headquarters for the forest preschool concept in the United States. We have learned and trained with them for our current curriculum for the past 5 years. Three staff members will be getting trained on Nature School for Teachers Schoolyard Habitats this summer. This K-8 in-person class will fully immerse in science by exploring habitats and connecting with science practices. This 5-day workshop class will be taught by Mass Audubon educators and scientists. Below are also some of the topics we are enrolled in for this summer specifically:

  • Birds of Summer - learning for shore birds, swallows, and nighthawks,

  • Decoding Fireflies

  • Horseshoe Crabs

  • Summer Sights and Sounds

  • Fledglings and Nestlings – learning what to do if you encounter a chick out of the nest

  • The Buzz on Native Bees – safe ways to observe them in the forest

  • Summer Wildflowers

  • Butterflies and Moths

  • Turtles and Snakes


This new program will take place at the second half of the Skyline location and will be outdoors. It will include the trails next to the property, as it will provide as much exposure to outdoor exploration as possible. We will put together activities from our activity planning guides, including, but not limited to:

  • The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature – A botanic garden guide teaching children how to be a naturalist by studying and observing living things and then trying to discover how they relate to each other and the environment. This guide has a lot of hands-on activities for children to read and carry out in the classroom.

  • The Kid’s Outdoor Adventure Book has projects such as making a scrap nature book and creating real habitats for bugs.

  • Fun with Nature – A take-along guide for children to explore, with all kinds of ideas for activities. Some of those include trees, leaves, bark, caterpillars, bugs, butterflies, squirrels, lizards, frogs, tracks, scats, and signs. It also teaches children how to remember easy facts when taking a hike.

  • 100 Backyard Activities – Becoming experts on bugs, worms, frogs, birds, and plants.

  • Nature Smart Workbooks – Packed with interactive learning activities that expand STEM knowledge to include nature literacy.


We would like to invite families to visit this new program located right next to the current Skyline site and explore the information on Monte Tavor’s Forest Preschool Program once completed beginning this August 2023.


The forest program or forest concept will be an add-on approach to our current outdoor program. It will have the same learning philosophy and the same goal in mind to get children ready for the elementary school years. But this time using the trails to not only play, explore and discover nature, but also use the space as outdoor classrooms where children may paint, draw, build, read, write, sing, dress up, learn letters and numbers, and use the covered spaces in bad weather. Families may begin searching the following inquiries regarding a forest program.


What is a Forest Preschool or School?

What are the benefits? Pros and Cons of a play / explore-only based program vs. a rounded preschool curriculum in the outdoors/forest. Two different approaches.


The goals that we hope children reach are not only the learning and readiness for elementary school but also the happiness and the open-mindedness that one obtains in a natural environment. The 2023- 2024 school year will be the starting point for this new naturalist program, and we will be experimenting with the idea beyond the preschool years in the next year or two years. TK and Kindergarten will be part of the experimenting program by then.

Monte Tavor Forest Preschool Program
Monte Tavor Forest Preschool Program
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