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  • To prepare each child socially and academically to succeed.

  • To develop a sense of place and foster a deep connection to the natural world.

  • To cultivate a strong, supportive, inclusive community between classmates, families, and preschool staff.

  • To enable each child to reach their full potential by meeting each child’s social, emotional, and academic needs and helping them grow.



Educational Approach

The Thorne Nature Preschool staff promotes learning by:

  • Utilizing nature as the organizing principle for all learning experiences.

  • Integrating developmentally appropriate best practices in early childhood and environmental education.

  • Focusing on all aspects of child development:

    • Cognitive - Nurturing children’s innate love of learning through rich, experiential, educational, emergent curriculum that follows children’s interests and curiosity.

    • Social and Emotional - Fostering self-confidence and empathy for others through self-awareness, collaboration, conflict resolution, and finding solutions.

    • Physical - Building resiliency and promoting health through active play, appropriate risk-taking, and self-regulation as children experience nature in all seasons and weather conditions.

    • Creative - Encouraging creativity and curiosity through art, storytelling, and imaginative play.

    • Spiritual - Cultivating reverence, awe, and respect for the natural world through direct experience with the wonders of nature.

  • Providing an environment which encourages children to actively explore, play, discover, express themselves, and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Providing mindful mentorship that demonstrates care for ourselves, each other, and the world around us, while appreciating the individuality of each child and celebrating their uniqueness.


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Integrated Curriculum

Thorne Nature Preschool has dual goals of both fostering whole-child development and cultivating environmental literacy. The curriculum, therefore, promotes early childhood education through nature immersion, and puts the child at the center of learning. Play in nature is at the heart of Thorne’s curriculum, but early literacy, math, science, arts, social emotional learning, and physical development are all addressed in an integrated and authentic way through experiences in nature.

While teachers act as guides, Thorne Nature Preschool’s curriculum also allows for a “choose your own adventure” experience that follows children’s interests. Imagine the surprise and joy of seeing a bald eagle fly over Sombrero Marsh, and how this simple experience can inspire a whole unit of learning on eagles including research into their lives and behaviors, art projects, poetry, games, and so much more. In this way, as interests emerge and the serendipity of nature occurs, teachers will adapt their activities and curriculum.

Thorne Nature Preschool curriculum is influenced by many early childhood programs, including Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and Montessori but adds in best practices for nature connection, including a technique called Flow Learning from Joseph Cornell. Flow Learning is a simple framework for getting the most out of nature experiences, and follows 4 stages: 1) Awakening Enthusiasm, 2) Offering Direct Experiences, 3) Focusing Attention, and 4) Sharing Inspiration. In a given day, an example of this flow could look like: 1) Beginning with an inspiring story about an animal, 2) “Becoming” that animal through movement, 3) Building a habitat in nature for that animal, and 4) Group Sharing about the special attributes of each habitat. Behind this experience children are developing a love of learning and a connection to nature, while also practicing early literacy skills, dramatic/creative play, physical education, STEM education (engineering), and Social Emotional Learning, to name a few. Using techniques like Flow Learning, teachers will provide a daily routine with predictable rituals, but they will also allow plenty of time for unstructured play and exploration with the active presence of teachers. 

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Thorne Nature Preschool will begin each day at an indoor classroom at East Boulder Community Center before heading to our outdoor learning area along Bobolink Trail! The outdoor learning area is nestled along South Boulder Creek, which offers a diverse habitat for children to play and learn, and is just a 5 minute walk from the Center. Minutes from downtown Boulder and a world away from urban life.

East Boulder Community Center: 5660 Sioux Dr, Boulder, CO 80303



Monday - Thursday

Hours: 9:00am-1:00pm

NEW Full Day Option at Mt. View Preschool

Thorne is teaming up with a nearby, play-based program at Mt. View Preschool- 355 Ponca Place, Boulder, CO 80303 to offer a full day option for families. Thorne staff will transport children in our early childhood equipped van. At Mt. View, children will have the opportunity to nap, read books, do art, play, and go outside, all at a well-established and community-loved preschool that has a 53 year history. Families will register separately for this option through Mt. View Preschool.

Monday - Thursday

Hours: 1:00pm-4:00pm

Friday (limited availability)

Hours: 9:00am-4:00pm


Children ages 3 through 6 can attend Thorne’s Nature Preschool. Children must be three years old by September 1 and fully toilet trained in order to attend the Preschool.