“I don’t know how to play without toys,” was the response of students when Katherine Brown first began a forest day with Little Peaks Preschool. Katherine was a bit discouraged, thinking the magic would just turn on simply by being in the woods. After listening to the kids who said it was “too pokey” in the prickly balsam fir tree grove, they moved to a more mature forest with fallen logs, big rocks, and a stream.

Slowly, Katherine says, “the kids started to really connect with that place and they started naming places in the woods and making their little forts, they really felt like it was their place, their space by the springtime.”

Patience is Katherine’s message to those wanting to spend more time outdoors with kids: “It’s not like you’re going to snap your fingers and the kids will be dancing around in the woods making fairy houses. You have to trust and give them free space to do it. It’s not going to happen all at once, but it happens bit by bit, and each time is better than the time before. They start to spend a minute at sit spots (which I always prefer to call quiet spots). And by the end of the year they’re lying there, looking up at the leaves and noticing all kinds of things, and they really enjoy being there. So it’s just taking baby steps and trusting in the power of nature to resonate with kids.”

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