Welcome to the
Nature Center

The New Canaan Nature Center Preschool was founded in 1967
and is the oldest nature based preschool in the country.

Preschool Open House:

Tuesday, November 12th 10:00am & 7:30pm

Monday, November 18th 10:00am & 7:30pm

Please rsvp to:

Marianne Kay

Preschool Director

Art, music and movement, language, math, dramatic play, hands-on science, creative activities & more!
Meet the teaching staff at the New Canaan Nature Center Preschool.
Click here for information about our admissions process and enrollment forms.
See what is happening at the New Canaan Nature Center Preschool.
See what is happening at the New Canaan Nature Center Preschool.

Our Philosophy

At the Nature Center, we focus on creating an awareness of, and appreciation for, the natural world. Our unique preschool accomplishes environmental education goals while addressing the whole child’s developmental needs. We integrate environmental and nature education into our curriculum – not as a separate subject, but as a pivotal element of language and literacy, math, art, music, dramatic play, and other areas of the curriculum.

Our curriculum accomplishes this by utilizing…

  • Direct, hands-on experiences with the natural world.
  • Compassionate, nurturing and caring professionals dedicated to young learners.
  • Staff members who possess knowledge of child development and its impact on individual learning styles.
  • Staff who understand and respect the importance of experiential learning, offering opportunities for concrete, meaningful experiences.
  • Staff who understand that the emotional life of children cannot be separated from their learning, interests, and motivation.

Why Nature Based Early Education?

Our nature-based preschool provides children with special opportunities to learn about themselves and the world. By connecting young children with the natural world, we instill in them a love of nature that will help foster an environmental ethic, a caring, empathic attitude and an inquisitive mind that will stay with them throughout their lives.

We offer unique preschool experiences…

Children will have
daily experiences
with animals

These experiences can take the form of enjoying a classroom animal friend, visits from the animals in our teaching collection, learning about bees at our hives, saying hello to the birds at the aviaries, passing by the chickens and goats in the field, or observing animals in their natural habitats.

Children will have
daily experiences
with plant life

Children will grow plants in the classrooms, in the gardens on campus, and in our greenhouse. In addition, there is always exploration and play in the woods, meadows, and ponds.

Expertise of “buddy”
naturalists and

The education staff at the Nature Center (preschool teachers and naturalists) collaborate to provide our students with a positive introduction to the natural world that will allow them to appreciate its wonder and beauty.

Hands on
seasonal program

We also use guidelines and benchmarks as outlined in the Preschool Curriculum Framework provided by the State of Connecticut. It includes benchmarks for children in preschool programs, with program goals and content standards. Here at the New Canaan Nature Center Preschool, we use this framework as we plan experiences and activities for the children. Our curriculum is neither totally inclusive of, nor limited to, the curriculum framework provided by the state. We are fortunate in having the Nature Center facility as our educational environment, and therefore have expanded the curriculum to include a much broader, nature-based focus. Additionally, curriculum is a living, evolving document; our staff is encouraged to explore new ideas manifested from their continuing studies, parents’ input, and other sources.

Scheduling a Tour: Click above to email Marianne Kay or call (203) 966-9577 x1016