“Creativity seems to emerge from multiple experiences, coupled with a well-supported development of personal resources, including a sense of venture beyond the known.”

~Loris Malaguzzi (A Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach)

Program Description

Madrona Nature School is a bilingual “rain or shine” school that provides young children with large amounts of time in natural outdoor settings where they can play, discover, and experience natural systems and materials in order to cultivate ecological literacy, a strong sense of place, and explore the  Spanish language. Our program base is located in Squalicum Creek Park, Tuesday-Thursday from 9:00am-1:00 pm, students experience all kinds of weather systems, truly observing and becoming a part of the natural phenomena of weather, climate, and seasonal changes.

Adhering to a small child-to-teacher ratio, a class of six to ten students is team-taught by two lead teachers. This outdoor program is supported by academic enrichment provided by our partner preschool The Madrona School. Students merge their outdoor discoveries and knowledge with literacy, math and language concepts.

A learning community created in the classroom without walls

  • Provides young children with large amounts of time in natural outdoor settings where they can play, explore, and experience natural systems and materials
  • Cultivates ecological literacy and a sense of place
  • Immersion through play and exploration is the easiest way for a child to learn Spanish
  • “Rain or Shine School” — through engagement in all weather systems children truly observe and are a part of the natural phenomena of weather, climate and seasonal changes
  • Awareness of environmental stewardship is created
  • Nature becomes the third teacher
  • “Becoming a Naturalist” Approach— plant identification, habitat and ecological systems study
  • The Aesthetic Approach— observing the natural beauty around us and using this for Artistic inspiration and natural materials as tools to create

Nature Design Principles (David Sobel)

  1. Adventure
  2. Fantasy and Imagination
  3. Animal Allies
  4. Maps and Paths
  5. Special Places
  6. Small worlds
  7. Hunting & Gathering


Second Language Acquisition Principles

  1. Young children are capable of learning  multiple languages
  2. Bilingualism confers cognitive, cultural, and economic advantages
  3. Children develop an interest in and curiosity about different cultures and ideas when they have a foundation in other languages
  4. Children are also better at mimicking new sounds and adopting pronunciation than are older learners

Sequence of Second Language Acquisition

Applies to language learners generally older than 3, those 3 or younger acquire the second language the same way they learn their dominant language.

  1. Home Language Use- Children continue to use the language they speak at home, even when others do not understand or aren’t using that language.
  2. Nonverbal period- After young children realize that speaking their home language will not work, they enter a period where they rarely speak and use nonverbal means to communicate.
  3. Telegraphic and Formulaic Speech. The child is now ready to start using the new language and does so through telegraphic speech that involves the use of formulas. This is similar to a monolingual child who is learning simple words or phrases (content words) to express whole thoughts.
  4. Productive language-Now the child is starting to go beyond telegraphic or formulaic utterances to create their own phrases and thoughts. Initially the child may use very simple grammatical patterns such as “I wanna play”, but over time he will gain control over the structure and vocabulary of the new language.

    Second Language Acquisition in Early Childhood (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265075052_Second_Language_Acquisition_in_Early_Childhood [accessed Sep 21, 2017].