Preschool in Nature

"I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, 
and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do." 
--John Muir
The Sprouts program at Asheville Farmstead is a preschool program for three to five year olds, where potty trained two year olds will also be considered. The program strives to engage the whole child. Each day the children will be exposed to free play and planned activities, moving around through the garden, the forest and the school house. Children will also experience songs, stories, garden-based snack, and a theme of the week. At Sprouts children are encouraged to use their imagination, engage with the natural world, and experience life outside.  

Sprouts meets for four hours in the morning five days a week. Sprouts can attend the program Monday through Friday for one, two, three or four days a week depending on family preference and space availability. The Sprouts program runs in seasons: Fall, Winter, and Spring. A commitment is needed for a whole season, though you can pay weekly or monthly for each season, Up to 12 students can attend the Sprout program on any particular day. Two educators are always actively involved in the program and available on site for individual needs.

How Sprouts Grow

Sprouts children participate in activities every day that develop their physical control, fine and gross motor skills, interpersonal skills, self-concept, imagination, and community awareness. The program is designed to mix in a variety of target skills through a wide range of activities that appeal to different learning styles. By constantly providing a menu of options for engaging little learners, everyone finds something that they excel at and something at which they can strive to do better. The educators note these areas and create plans to build upon successes and turn struggles into areas of potential growth.

Gross Motor Skills: Running games, hiking, brain dancing, digging, fort building

Fine Motor Skills: Drawing, tracing, measuring, planting, cooking

Social Emotional Awareness: Group/partner activities, animal care, practicing listening and respect, sharing

Literacy and Language: Stories, theatre and puppets, rhyming, singing

Reasoning and Science: Experiment, exploration, solving mysteries, gardening, species ID, reflection

Creative Thinking: Nature art, drama, free play, imagination stations

TIME: 8:30am-12:30pm Monday - Friday
COST: $35 per day
One day a week: $140 per month
Two days a week: $280 per month
Three days a week: $420 per month
Four days a week: $560 per month
Five days a week: $700 per month

The Daily Cycle

8:30-9:00 Welcome to Sprouts

, greet friends, free-play

9:00-9:30 AM Circle

Theme of the week, weather, calendar, song, story

9:30-10:10 Garden Exploration/Field Time

Watering, Planting, Tasting, Caring for the plants and animals

10:10-10:30 Bathroom, Hand Wash, Snack

Garden-based snacks are made by the children every day

10:30-11:15 Forest Fun and Science

Games, hiking, listening to birds, nature art, experiments

11:15-11:45 Art Projects, Dance, Drama

A time inside or outside to explore the theme of the week in a creative way

11:45-12:20 Lunch

12:20-12:30 See you later

Free play, sign out, saying good bye till next time to friends

Sprouts Philosophy

At Asheville Farmstead, we believe that teachers come in many forms. We value the social experience where children learn from spending time with each other in safe and engaging places. We acknowledge that we as teachers can learn from the children in our care, and their parents and guardians. Often times this is how we can understand the bigger picture regarding a child’s strengths, fears or behaviors. And as a nature-based school, we emphasize the role that the Earth has to play in teaching us all about life, science, history, respect, humility and awe. By creating an intentional community of children in a beautiful outdoor setting, we aim to make learning simple, useful and joyful.

As educators, we have been influenced by a variety of educational philosophies from Montessori and Waldorf to Project-Based-Learning and Big History. We strive to pull aspects from as many proven techniques as we can and are not certified or specialized in one approach. We do utilize the lesson planning technique called “Backward Design” from Understanding By Design, where the desired learning outcome is the starting point for lesson creation. For example, if we want students to learn how seeds become plants, we create lessons showing the transformation, labeling parts, experimenting with germination, drawing the changes and so forth. In this way, lessons have a continuity because they share the same end goal (learning how seeds become plants) instead of haphazard but interesting activities that may or may not connect to each other.