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Discover Nature

Natural Discovery now offers forest school fun for the whole family!

Discover Nature is designed for families with children ages 3-10, but all ages are welcome to attend! A parent or guardian is required to attend with the child. This program enables families to play and learn outdoors together. Join us weekly at Goodenow Grove in Beecher, IL or Hammel Woods in Shorewood, IL as we explore science, engineering, art, and math from a biblical worldview through nature play and activities.

There will be plenty of woodland art, critter hikes, log crossing, puddle splashing, fort building, friend making fun. A weekly hiking guide will provide playful place-based unit studies, with each week highlighting local flora or fauna. No parent prep necessary; just come ready to have fun and learn together as a family. This program is ideal for homeschoolers, e-learners, and summer fun-seekers alike.

Come dressed for the weather! Each session of our program is fully outdoors. Our guides include information about local species and phenomena for you to dig into and find signs of on your hike through the forest. There will be some hands-on activities included in the guide, some to do at home, and some to complete in the forest, as well as group games you can play with fellow forest school friends. You can choose to learn solo as a family or bring friends and let your children learn and explore together.

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What you get

Natural Discovery facilitates a forest school community at local preserves while providing a flexible parent-facilitated multi-age unit study focused on local nature. It includes a booklist for extended learning at home, as well as a seasonal outdoor guide. Every session has an optional group time where participants can gather and do a short overview of the unit for the day. Following the short discussion and a hands-on experience, game, or ice breaker, you will be dismissed to complete your hike and start doing playful hands-on learning in the forest. Each week features new hiking guides enabling learning to be play-based, child-led, and parent facilitated. It won't feel like school, and the children won't know they're learning as they play! You can choose to socialize and interact with like-minded families, or keep your distance and only interact as an individual family. You can facilitate the hiking guide or choose to play and explore instead.

How to join

Enroll today by completing a family application via the "enroll now" button above. Your spot isn't reserved until we've received full payment. We now accept credit card payments through our "pay now" option above. A processing fee of 3.5% will be applied to all credit card payments. We also accept digital payments through Zelle which can be sent to info@naturaldiscovery.org.

Schedule

Enrollment in Discover Nature consists of four weeks of group sessions in the forest with new hiking guides each week. The monthly enrollment fee is $100 per family which includes a month of Discover Nature. 

There's no such thing as bad 

weather, only bad clothes.

-Scandinavian Proverb

How to Dress for All-Weather Play

Dressing your children for a day outdoors can be intimidating. How many layers will your child need to stay warm when it's freezing out? What do they need to stay dry? Put uncertainty aside, as we equip you with the knowledge to weather the storm and get outside, no matter the weather.

Snow Angels

Helpful Tips

  • Layering is key! Some days are 1-layer clothing days, some 2-layer days, some 3- layers. It is much easier to take layers off as needed than to warm a child that has already gotten chilled.

  • The children’s needs throughout the day are often unpredictable and will depend not only on the weather conditions but also the child’s body temperature and activity level.

  • In the winter, wearing 2 layers of wool long underwear underneath a thick wool sweater and fleece pants is the most effective way to layer children under their rain gear in order to keep them warm without feeling too bulky.

  •  We’re going to get dirty! Please make sure you dress your children in clothes they can get messy.  All clothing and footwear should be loose fitting and roomy to allow the body’s own insulating layer to surround the skin.  

Recommended Gear

Spring:

  • Lightweight rain pants or quick-dry long pants: long pants rather than short pants are important to protect legs from thorns, insects, poison ivy etc.

  • No denim jeans please. 

  • Rain boots with lightweight socks 

  • When temperatures are cooler: long-sleeved tops and/or rain jackets 

  • Sunhat 

  • Sunscreen 

  • Insect repellant

Fall/Winter:

  • Rain boots (with one or two pairs of socks)

  • Full rain gear (hooded jacket and pants)

  • Two-piece long underwear--silk or wool is best, but polyester is also a good choice.

  • Silk or wool socks 

  • Mittens and a hat: wool or fleece is warmest.