outdoor learning
FRESH AIR DAYS
AT SCHOOL IN NATURE

Get out of the classroom and into the woods to learn, play and grow in fresh air. 

A Five Week Nature-Based Educational Program

Elephant Thoughts, in partnership with our generous sponsors at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada are pleased to offer, Fresh Air Days, a 5-week program for school aged children (5 to 12). One day per week your child has the opportunity to get out of the classroom from 9am – 3pm to learn and explore in a whole new way. Your child will learn about diversity, inclusivity, environmental stewardship, math, literacy, science and more all in the beautiful outdoors! Our curriculum is diverse and academic and incorporates STEAM education. The magic and freedom of learning outdoors will enrich your son or daughter’s schooling experience, and we hope, be the best part of their week.Your kids will have so much fun they won’t even notice that they are learning!  

The Space

Fresh Air Days is being offered at two locations. Our Kimbercote facility, located in Heathcote, and at Riverstone, located in Durham. Both locations boast sprawling acreage with forested areas, stunning views, creeks, rivers, beautiful paths and diverse learning spaces like bio-domes, teepees, fire circles, etc. Each location also hosts an indoor facility for inclement weather days. Learn more about each location below. 

The content

Set within the existing Elephant Thoughts’ School In Nature, the programming your child will receive during their 5 weeks will include math, science, literacy, cultural studies, and more.  Our programming is developed to be fun and hands-on and we conduct as much of it as we can outdoors. While our school has similarities to the forest school model, we aim to provide a more structured curriculum in a natural setting. 

The Structure

One day per week, for five weeks, your child will leave the confines of his or her classroom and come to one of our two locations. Here, in groups of six (or less), he or she will take part in our School In Nature activities and curriculum. With small class sizes in outdoor spaces, your child will get some much needed fresh air in a safe, healthy, and enriching environment. Programming is divided into two age groups, 5-7 and 8-12.

The cost

Thanks to our generous sponsors at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council, along with other wonderful contributors (listed below), this five week program is offered to you and your child(ren), free of cost. Your child will just require a lunch, weather appropriate attire, transportation and a desire to explore to attend our program!

Request Your Spot

This program is meant to support the community and individuals during this unprecedented time of vulnerability and uncertainty. You may register more than one child from your household, but each child may only attend one free session, or alternatively one free march break camp. Please complete the form below to request a spot in our program. Spaces are limited but we are aiming to accommodate as many people as we can. If you know a family who might benefit from this or other ET programs please share! We will let you know if and when your child has received a spot within five business days  of receiving your request. 

Fresh Air Days

Fresh air keeps the doctors bored. 

– Danish Proverb

Riverstone Logo Cropped

The Riverstone Eco Retreat grounds are located just outside the Town of Durham, Ontario. This beautiful site spans 136 acres of historic farmstead and beautiful forest. The Saugeen River runs through the property along with a network of beautiful hiking trails and special spaces for learning and exploration. 

kimbercote horz@4x-100

The Woods at Kimbercote is a magical place. Set in the heart of the Beaver Valley, the property is hemmed in by the valley’s crest and the Bruce Trail. Over 130 Acres of land make up this beautiful location. With forested areas, grassy fields, small seasonal streams and tributaries and many magical spots for your children to explore.

We are taking extra care

Group Size & Class Ratio

With a maximum group size of 6, your child will have an attentive guide accessible to them through out the day with a child to teacher ratio of 1 to 6, maximum. There will always be a second teacher on-site among other staff and adults.

Facilities

Each group of six will have access to their own washroom and separate indoor space. Spaces and facilities will be disinfected throughout the day after use. Hand cleansers and sanitizers as well as other PPE's will be made available and used in cases where social distancing is not possible indoors.

Classrooms & Materials

The learning space or "classroom" is the great outdoors! Limiting indoor time to washroom breaks and potentially lunch time during the winter if children are uncomfortable outdoors. Indoor time will take place in the case of thunder and lightening or temperatures that are too cold to enjoy the outdoors safely. All indoor spaces will be regularly disinfected and social distancing while indoors will be encouraged. Materials will not be shared unless necessary and in the case sharing is required the materials will be disinfected prior.

Risk & Illness

We are going to do our part to reduce risk and create healthy environments for your child to grow, learn, have fun and BE A KID in! We do not want to create an overtly sterile environment that is stress inducing or foreign to your child. We will aim to keep these precautions subtle and behind the scenes but we are diligent and aware of risk. In the case of illness - of any form - we ask that parents do not send their child to school for the health and safety of the other students and our staff who we value and respect. We are all in this together!

Thank you to our generous sponsors