Nature Preschool



About Nature Preschool and the Curriculum


At the Chicago Botanic Garden's Nature Preschool, children gain an understanding of the value of the plants, wildlife, and natural habitats that sustain our world. The children develop all of their senses while preparing for kindergarten. We have access to the Garden, not only to explore and learn, but also to meet the very dedicated group of working scientists, horticulturists, and staff members who serve as resources for children as they learn about the world and make the connections that lead to discovery.

The curriculum includes:

  • math
  • science experiences and experiments
  • language and vocabulary
  • art, music, and movement
  • building
  • environmental awareness

A Typical Day at Nature Preschool:

Active Play

Active Play
Children explore, play, and learn in several settings. Home base is the Regenstein Learning Campus with indoor and outdoor classrooms. We hike or take trams to other Garden areas to enhance learning experiences and discovery. Children use large muscles as they dig, climb, and build.

Group Time

Children take part in conversations related to the topic of study, learn finger plays and poems, sing songs, and do yoga. To reinforce learning, teachers write the observations that children share about their day.

Free Choice

Free Choice
Children have ample time each day to choose their own activity related to the current theme. This allows children to lengthen attention spans and develop competency in specific areas. Examples of activities include: building, experiments, sensory play, art, make believe, planting, reading, and puzzles.


Young children need practice to develop self-regulation, cooperation, confidence, communication, curiosity, and empathy. Teaching in this domain involves making sure children feel safe and nurtured with modeling from adults and each other.


Children write and draw in their journals to document learning. They are also given opportunities to dictate thoughts to an adult to record and keep track of scientific information related to experiments.

Snack Time

Snack is eaten family style so teachers and children can share conversation and healthy food.


Ann Haley Teaching

Any Questions?

Contact: Ann Halley, director of early childhood programs and preschool director
Email: Click here to show mail address
Phone: (847) 835-8238