About the Program

Regular Connections to Nature
Zoo Sprouts nature-based childcare program believes a child develops best through personal connections with nature’s building blocks. Zoo Sprouts children grow up with the knowledge, passion, and ability to save the natural world around them.

Educational Philosophy
We believe that children are intrinsically motivated to learn, which is enhanced in natural surroundings. Adults facilitate learning by:
  • Providing a natural environment which encourages discovery, experimentation, and the opportunity to see the results of one’s actions;
  • Developing nature-based activities to take children to the next level of understanding and development based on the children’s abilities and interests;
  • Encouraging divergent thinking and reflection by asking open-ended questions and providing information in response to children’s ideas, insights, and concerns;
  • Assisting children in their interactions with each other and offering opportunities for cooperative learning;
  • Teaming with families to understand children through the wisdom of their first teachers—their parents;
  • Appreciating the individuality of children and celebrating their uniqueness.
The Zoo Sprouts nature-based childcare program provides children with special opportunities to learn about themselves, the world around them, and life. By connecting young children with the natural world, we inspire a love of nature, foster an environmental ethic and encourage a caring attitude to follow them throughout their lives.

Children Immersed in Experiences
We offer the experiences typically found in child-centered early childhood education programs. Children have opportunities to:
  • Make discoveries and learn through play;
  • Make choices and follow their own interests and agenda;
  • Use their senses, and large and small muscles;
  • Express themselves creatively and use language in its many forms;
  • Make friends and learn about the social world;
  • Problem-solve and find solutions to what puzzles them.
Zoo Sprouts provides many of these experiences through interacting directly with nature. Children develop physically, cognitively, socially, emotionally, and spiritually in a dynamic and stimulating natural environment.

Inspired by Nature

Nature permeates the children’s experiences. Nature-based activities happen indoors and outdoors; in whole groups, small groups, and individually; as planned teacher-facilitated activities, child-initiated interests, and spontaneous pursuits; in the classroom, outdoor playspace, and throughout Sunset Zoo. Children can look at their experiences through the lens of a naturalist, zoo keeper, and conservationist as they are given encouragement to:
  • Make observations and discoveries;
  • Interact with animals;
  • Satisfy their natural curiosity;
  • Hike on trails and climb on logs;
  • Appreciate the beauty of nature;
  • Build understanding of themselves, as they relate to others & to the natural world;
  • Experiment;
  • Communicate about nature.

More About Nature-Based Education

Zoo Sprouts promotes environmental and conservation awareness, self-direction, social skills, language development, intellectual growth, and parental involvement. For additional information about the benefits of nature-based education, download these articles: