One of the best things about living on the Sunny Coast is the abundance of beautiful nature that is on our doorstep. Here we track down the best nature playgroups for littles.
The Botanical Collective
Why we love it: Providing holistic nature play and workshops that are inspired by the seasons, The Botanical Collective is the creation of Sunshine Coast momma, Sarah Tuckey. Offering interactive classes in outdoor spaces, these magical sessions connect children to nature through play-based craft, mindful activities (including kid’s yoga and breathwork), gardening, organic art classes (think foliage ‘cooking’, wreath making, flower pressing) and conscious book readings. Sarah is a qualified early childhood care & education teacher who has worked with children and families for over 21 years in early learning centres, kindergartens and overseas. She specialises in leadership, additional & diverse needs, and ensures all classes cultivate sensory and body awareness through imaginative techniques that nourish mindfulness, creativity and pure joy.
The Wild Exchange
Why we love it: Offering eco-playgroups and workshops in the Noosa Hinterland, The Wild Exchange is a gorgeous nature-based programme run by local mum, psychotherapist and eco therapist, Jaimie Trotter. Mindfully designed to feed the imagination of tomorrow’s earth-conscious leaders, creative outdoor classes are full of nature-inspired activities that enhance sensory and emotional development by connecting kids with Mother Earth. Weekly ‘Earth Keepers’ workshops (for 1-4 year-olds) are 75-minutes long and run over an 8-week period; and there is also a monthly community connection ‘Picnic Club’ which is held on the last Thursday of every month. Jamie’s goal is to provide ‘a sanctuary for mothers and children to connect with each other and with nature’, and she definitely achieves that!
Natureweavers Forest School
Why we love it: As the original pioneer of nature-based play programmes on the Sunshine Coast, Natureweavers Forest School has been inviting children to become ‘friends with nature’ though seasonal nature playgroups, ‘bush kindy’, and forest school classes since 2010. Led by experienced botanist and environmental educator, Carly Garner, Natureweavers’ mixed-age learning experiences encompass a weekly ‘Earth Kids’ programme (for children aged 3-16 years), ‘Sacred & Seasonal’ sessions (for children aged 14+), and ‘Earth Rites’ rituals (for girls aged 11-15 years), which are designed to foster the connection between children and the earth. Weekend & holiday programmes, wilderness camps and ‘Rewilding’ family sessions are also available. Taking place in the beautiful, wild bushland of Black Mountain, all classes are experiential and embrace child-led learning.
Wildlings Forest School
Why we love it: Delivering nature playgroups, forest kindy and holistic outdoor holiday programmes for free-spirited young ones, Wildlings Forest School offers unstructured, self-directed, nature-play sessions in various locations on the Sunshine Coast. Run by experienced ‘play workers’ (aka teachers), classes are thoughtfully curated to help kids build resilience, environmental stewardship, confidence and connection to the natural world through nature immersion and wild adventure. The playgroups (for kids aged 0-6 years) include tree climbing, creek play, bushwalking, wildlife engagement and nature scavenger hunts; while the kindy programme (for kids aged 3-6 years) includes adventure play lessons such as flora & fauna identification, knot-tying, hand tool skills and raft & cubby building. Wildlings also offers homeschool, after-school and holiday packages, and has it’s own ‘Raising Wildlings’ podcast.
In Our Nature Forest Play School
Why we love it: Run by local mum, qualified primary teacher and ‘Forest School’ leader, Penny Picone, In Our Nature Forest Play School (ION) is one of the newer kids on the nature playgroup block. Nurturing hands-on learning, holistic development and creativity through outdoor play and environmental custodianship guidance, lessons revolve around nature-based activities including native plant identification, bush exploration & foraging, wild art & crafting, gardening, fireside cooking and seasonal rituals. Importantly, ION focuses on the importance of caring for, protecting, and restoring the environment by modelling earth-conscious practices. Taking place on a beautiful property in Eerwah Vale, classes encompass weekly Nature Playgroups (for children aged 0-6 years) and weekly ‘Forest Play’ sessions (for children aged 6-12 years), which span 8 weeks. Holiday play sessions are also on offer.