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Early Childhood Education

The Environmental Nature Center is committed to offering positive nature experiences to young children. We provide young children with important opportunities to become familiar with the natural world by playing – and learning – while surrounded by and exploring nature.


  • Outdoor play increases fitness and builds active, healthy bodies
  • Outdoor environments are important to children’s development to independence and autonomy
  • Children who spend time in nature have better language skills and more self-discipline
  • Spending time in the open air and learning outside increases students’ ability to think both critically and creatively.

Read on to learn about some of the Early Childhood Education opportunities we currently offer, and explore our ENC Nature Preschool website to learn about our highly anticipated new Nature Preschool!


Traveling Naturalist Programs

Using dramatic play, we will pack our backpacks & head out for a “hike” through different habitats, encountering our live animals along the way. $5.50, up to 20, 45 minutes.Contact our Community Outreach Coordinator to schedule, or call 949-645-8489.

Students will transform into a butterfly and go on its life journey, discovering similarities and differences between other animals along the way. $5.50, up to 40, 45 minutes. Contact our Community Outreach Coordinator to schedule, or call 949-645-8489.

Field Trip Program

Children ages 3 to 5 learn that everything in nature changes. As they hike through the Center they learn about the life cycle of frogs and touch a real, live toad. They learn about the life cycle of butterflies and visit the butterfly house (seasonal). Children learn that snakes shed their skin to grow, examine snakeskin with a magnifying lens, and get to meet a real, live snake! They learn that mammals have fur to keep them warm when it’s cold, and gently touch the fur of several local animals. Along the trail children enjoy story time under the dappled shade of oak trees. 1 hour, $6/student, minimum 10/maximum 80. Contact our Education Coordinator to schedule, or call 949-645-8489.

Community Programs

Join us for an unstructured ‘Parent and Me’ style class on our grounds.  Each week we’ll hike out to a different habitat along our trails, set up a big blanket, and relax with our babies in the shade of the forest canopy.  Parents will get to know one another while the babies experience ‘tummy time’ and free play outdoors.  Each session will end with story time and a song.  Register on our calendar.

Little Naturalist programs are outdoor experiential education classes designed for 3 – 5 year olds and their adults. Activities are designed to encourage exploration and discovery and to enrich a child’s emerging physical and cognitive skills. Parents remain with children at all times. $8 per participant ($5 for members). Pre-payment is required. Register on our calendar.

Join us for a “Tree Hug Hike” out to the Redwood Forest. We will read a great book together under the canopy of our tallest trees while your family relaxes together on a blanket or towel. Afterward children and their adults will participate in activities and make crafts related to the theme of the book. Parents remain with children at all times. All ages welcome. Bring your own blanket or towel. $5 per child, pre-registered member. $7 per child, pre-registered non-member. $10 per child, unregistered walk-in. Register on our calendar.

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