The Ridges Sanctuary

Preservation, Education, and Research

Dragonfly Nature Preschool


Nature Preschool and Nature-Based Learning

Nature is our classroom.  We believe that children develop social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and language skills best when they play with others in the beautiful, fresh, inspiring outdoors!  Playing outside in a safe, but rich natural environment where there is mud, water, trees, birds, insects, plants, wildlife of all kinds, is the best way to benefit from play!  Children who are invited to go out into a real world to explore are highly engaged.  In the natural setting, during all seasons, there is a vast array of different things to see, smell, touch, stand on, run on, climb, sit on, talk about, and investigate.   With such complexity, there is no end of things to be curious about and to “try.”  Because of this richness, children focus their attention for long stretches of time.  Children gain endurance, resilience, and confidence as they hike, run, build, and embrace all kinds of weather.  Best of all, children find nature to be peaceful and they make a life-long connection to the natural world in Door County.

Our Learning Environment

We are a licensed preschool, offering morning programming for nine months each school year. Dragonfly Nature Preschool meets at The Ridges Sanctuary where we utilize classroom space in antique cabins and in the Nature Center itself.  We spend almost all of our time outdoors, hiking and playing in the boreal forest , sand dunes, meadow, stream, garden, and pine grove.  Our teachers are professionally trained in either environmental education or early childhood education, and they have experience in both areas.  We offer a ratio of 15 or fewer children to two teachers.  This training and ratio exceeds requirements of the National Association of the Education of Young Children.

Program Highlights for the 2022/2023 School Year

  • Dragonfly Nature Preschool is for children ages 4-6 who are completely toilet-trained.
  • NEW IN 2022/23 We will offer a 3-day morning program, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9-11:30.
  • Backpacks stocked with nature tools and art tools and snack are provided.
  • Children bring their own water.
  • We do not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, creed, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry.