"I can't tell you how much my daughter has enjoyed Nature Club and how thankful I am that she is so excited about nature. She has always enjoyed being outside but I have never been able to get her excited about nature and you have done it...Nothing could make me happier. Thank you!!!"
"I cannot say enough about Nature Club Kids. My 4-year-old son had the opportunity to try it last fall and we ended up signing him up for it every season after. My son Arlo loved it. I’m not sure what his favorite things were because he’s not able to talk much yet because he has Down syndrome. But I could tell by the smile on his face when I picked him up that he was thrilled to be there. Nature Club is great for all kids. There’s tons of research emerging that being outside in the mud and dirt and trees is good for the brain. But I want to tell you why it’s especially great for kids with disabilities. First and foremost it provides meaningful, true inclusion. Arlo was out there with all the other kids. As far as I could tell when I came early to pick him up (so I could sit in my car and watch without him noticing me); Arlo was just Arlo to everyone. He wasn’t the kid with Down syndrome who had to be pulled out for therapy. The teachers helped him when he needed it and let him do his own thing the rest of the time. So often our children with special needs are followed by therapists and aides and special instructors. We are always teaching them, showing them, prodding them. At Nature Club, Arlo could just be. He participated in activities, but when it came time for free play he sometimes retreated to his special spot where he could just do his own thing without interruption. Kids of all abilities need that. So do adults for that matter. Nature Club helped Arlo learn about the outdoors. The craft projects, planting, looking at bugs, and countless other activities opened up his world to new things. And all of these things are great catalysts for fine motor, gross motor, and speech and language improvements. Picking up leaves, planting seeds and the like are amazing for his little hands. Walking over roots and through bushes are great for building strength and confidence. And he learned so many new words!
Nature Club will expand children’s learning outside of the classroom walls. I’m so excited my child was a part of this amazing program. "
Mom to Arlo (4), Emil (2), Maya (4 months)
Disability Rights Advocate for families across the Commonwealth of Virginia
Consultant for Center for Family Involvement
ACPS Special Education Advisory Committee Member
2nd Vice Chair Alexandria City’s Community Services Board
"When I was in the wilds of the Northern New Jersey suburbs, I would play outside hours after school and on weekends. My favorite time was playing in the winter snow, digging, building houses and roads in the snow and using Winnie the Pooh characters from a cereal box. I would stay outside until my feet hurt so badly from the cold that I needed to go inside. Sadly, children do not have as many of those opportunities anymore. Nature Club Kids gives the opportunity to play outside back to children and offers so much more. Children learn that being outside is fun and they begin to develop an appreciate for what nature has to offer us: a sense of wonder and beauty that we find from explorations. During Nature Club, children are encouraged to use all their senses and in the process become comfortable in their environment. Ann Marie's knowledge, enthusiasm and love for learning outdoors makes nature club a rich and rewarding experience for the children."
Director: Fairlington Preschool
"Nature Club was the highlight of my daughter's week. It was an amazing combination of education and fun outside the regular classroom environment. She created unique works of art, lovingly played with bugs and experienced mud in entirely new ways all the while learning about her environment. I believe this opportunity gave her a good foundation for understanding and respecting nature."
"My girls had such a positive experience with Nature Club. Ann Marie's teaching approach allows for children's curiosity to take the lead in their learning. They used to be scared of insects and now they dig for worms and identify many creepy crawlies they find under logs! They made solar ovens from pizza boxes that worked, had fairy picnics, harvested garden vegetables, etc. They had so much fun, they didn't realize how much knowledge they were absorbing."
~Leo & Susan Campbell
"My daughter loves being outdoors and loves learning details about her natural world. Nature Club gave her the opportunity and time to learn and appreciate more. She loved sharing her new-found knowledge with her older brothers."
"My son LOVED Nature Club! He especially liked circle time outside at the learning logs. Many of the activities we were able to continue at home- like growing peas. While attempting to go the amaryllis, he learned the valuable lesson that some things don't grow as planned."
"Nature Club is very fun and interesting to teach. It is a learning adventure for me as well! I love observing the children explore and grow their understanding of trees, birds, insects, etc. We go outside regardless of the weather so they learn what each season is all about. I am happy to be part of this program because I know how important it is to establish connections with the natural world at a young age, and at every age. It is part of happiness."
Nature Club Mentor
"My daughter enjoyed connecting to nature through Ann Marie's Nature Club. Ann Marie developed many creative art projects, outdoor activities, and encouraged the children's curiosity in the natural world. My daughter gained an understanding and respect for the earth. She has also found a new fascination with bugs!"