Playful Nature Explorers

In the kingdom of Playful Nature...

… tadpoles wiggle in dappled sunshine, snowflakes gather on mittened hands, carrot tops poke out of rich brown soil, and eyes sparkle with curiosity and wonder.

Now enrolling for Fall! Reserve your spot today.

Meet our Playful Nature Educator, Mara NewRoots, Early Childhood Educator

Read more about a Spring Day at Playful Nature Explorers

Program Information

Complete program information can be found in the Parent Handbook.

ICG’s Playful Nature Explorers is for children ages 2.5-6. It is research-based, child-centered, and brings a world of discovery, learning, and joy to your child’s day and season through nature and play immersion. Following the rhythm of the seasons, our play-based curriculum allows the natural curiosity of young children to lead our explorations, experiments, and creative expressions.

Flexible schedules and enrollment options allow you to choose what works best for your family. Register for the Academic Year and receive a 10% discount on tuition.

Register for the Season (Fall, Winter, or Spring) and receive a 5% discount on tuition.

You may also register month-by-month pending available space in the program.

4-day, 3-day, and 2-day schedules are available.


What is the child to educator ratio?

6:1 is the maximum ratio

What is the daily routine?

9:00 am arrival and play while we wait for friends

9:15 am Circle time


Bathroom Break


Exploration play

12:00 pm pick up

Should I pack a snack for my child?

Yes. Playing outside is hungry work. Please pack a hearty nutritious snack and full water bottle each day.

Can I register just for one month or do I need to commit to the season/year?

You can register by the month, season, or year.If you register for the season (Fall, Winter, or Spring) there is a 5% discount on tuition.If you register for the year there is a 10% discount on tuition.

What are the program fees?

Fees vary based on schedule and if you register monthly, seasonal or for the year. Check out the Tuitions and Schedules download for details.

How to enroll in the program?

Following the registration link above and complete the enrollment form.You’ll be able to choose the number of days per week that you’d prefer as well as the amount of time you’d like to register for: a month, a season, or for the year.Once you complete the form and submit the $150 deposit, your child’s space in the program is reserved.We’ll send along an enrollment packet which will include a payment agreement you’ll need to return.Your $150 deposit is applied to your first month’s tuition.

Does my child need to be potty trained?

Yes.We are only able to accommodate children who are daytime potty positive. Occasional accidents are not a problem and will be handled with kindness and respect for the child.

What do children need to bring?

Children should pack a hearty, nutritious snack each day as well as a complete change of clothes. Weather appropriate outdoor gear and footwear is a must.

Can I visit and observe the program?

Yes! We’d love to have you and your child visit. Please email Mara ( to arrange a visit. You’re welcome to stay for the entire morning or choose to visit from 9:15-10 or 11-12.

How much time do you spend outdoors?

In the spring and fall, children are dropped off and picked up at Ithaca Children’s Garden. We’ll spend the entire morning outdoors. In the winter, we begin our days at our indoor classroom in the Just Be Cause Center, making the short walk down to the Waterfront Trail to the Garden mid-morning for at least an hour, often more, of outdoor play.

What is your program philosophy?

We believe that all children deserve a childhood full of wonder and joy; that children develop a relationship with and knowledge of the world by experiencing it with all their senses. Playful Nature Explorers is a nature and play-based program that empowers children to be active in their own learning process. We meet children where they are developmentally, facilitating connection to one another and the natural world in a caring way.

How is the curriculum determined?

Although we plan an outline of seasonal themes for each month, it is really the children that decide the curriculum. A teachable moment may turn into a week-long exploration, intense interest in a topic planned for one week may lead to a month’s worth of activities. And when it comes to play, we follow the children’s lead as they are the experts of their own play. It is our responsibility to support yet not interfere with that play.

Ready to register your child for a season of play and discovery?

Fill out the Playful Nature Explorers registration form today!

Notice about Scholarships & Member Discounts:

ICG's policy is to not turn anyone away for inability to pay. We have created an easy to use scholarship application form that will help us start the process of identifying the right scholarship level for your family. Out of respect for the dignity of each family's private financial information, we will not request personal financial details as part of the application process.

If you are interested in scholarships, please complete the scholarship application.