Ipswich River Nature Preschool

Our program is full for both the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years. We are no longer accepting applications and all waitlists have been closed.

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How to Apply

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2021-2022 school year. All of our programs are at capacity and the waitlist is closed.

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Nature Preschool Boys Picking Tomatoes 320
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Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary is proud to offer a nature preschool for 3-5 year olds located at Endicott Wildlife Sanctuary in Wenham. Our program features:

  • Highly qualified teachers with backgrounds in early childhood and nature education.
  • Nature-based, emergent curriculum promotes language, math, and social development.
  • Two, three, and five-day class groupings for ages 3-4, plus a four-day class for age 5, with options for early morning care at 8:00am and lunch bunch until 1:00pm.
  • Two-day class for ages 3-4 offering a full day program from 9:00 am-3:00 pm.
  • Beautiful classrooms, outdoor play areas, and gardens.

Philosophy and Nature Connection

Recent studies confirm that children are spending less time engaged in vigorous outdoor play. The Ipswich River Nature Preschool provides young children on the North Shore with early educational experiences that foster the development of the whole child and a lifelong relationship with nature.


Endicott Wildlife Sanctuary's 40-acre landscape in Wenham offers a variety of opportunities for exciting daily investigation, observation, and discovery. We spend a substantial amount of time outdoors where hands-on science activities, nature walks, and gardening foster curiosity and creativity.

Inside our two spacious classrooms, nature themes continue with children’s literature, music and movement, dramatic play, cooking, blocks and building, and art activities.

Additional experiences include field trips to Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield for seasonal activities such as maple sugaring, vernal pool observations, and ponding.


Ipswich River Nature Preschool is grounded in developmentally appropriate state and national early childhood education guidelines. Our emergent curriculum approach emphasizes purposeful and productive play as a way to enable children to grow physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually.

Project Approach

While interacting with nature, children’s questions and observations provide the road map for short and long term investigations and projects that integrate math, science, and literacy.

Children become motivated storytellers and writers as they document their observations of a robin’s nest. They use math in meaningful ways as they predict and record the number of days it will take for a butterfly to emerge from its chrysalis, for example.

Productive Play

Young children learn best through purposeful and productive play. Outdoor play experiences such as building a fort or digging a channel between two puddles provide children with opportunities to practice the social and intellectual skills of planning, problem-solving, decision-making, and collaboration.

Building fairy houses under the canopy of the beech trees, turning over logs to look for salamanders, and harvesting fresh vegetables for snacks from our gardens are just a few of the ways that children engage all their senses.

Creative Learning

The beauty of our gardens and woods inspire joyful self-expression and creativity through the arts. Natural materials are incorporated into painting, drawing, weaving and sculptural experiences that allow children to visually convey their ideas and emotions.

Family Communications

Strong relationships with families are cultivated through multiple opportunities for parent participation. Teachers regularly share documentation of children’s learning with parents through private blogs, photos, and video. We welcome parent volunteers and help families connect with one another during family potlucks and programs.

Apply for 2021-2022 School Year

All interested families must submit an application for enrollment. Admission is by date order as applications are received. Applications will be accepted from all families, without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, cultural history, political beliefs, marital status, or disability. Children must be age 3 prior to September 1, 2021, to be considered for admission.

Enrollment is ongoing, based on available space. Returning families and siblings of current families receive first choice of spaces. Waitlisted families will be notified when spaces become available. Returning families and current families with siblings must return their application by January 11, 2021, and will be notified of admission by January 15, 2021. Applications for new families are due February 1, and spots will be confirmed by February 5, 2021.

Our 2021-2022 program is at maximum capacity; the waitlist has been closed.

Classes & Schedule

School begins in early September and runs through early June. With a few exceptions, we follow the vacation schedule of the Wenham/Hamilton public schools.

Our class sizes are small, with two highly qualified educators to no more than 10 children in the 3s class, and to 16 children in the 4s class. All our teachers are licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.

Options for Ages 3 & 4

  • Tuesday & Thursday, 9 am–noon*
  • Monday, Wednesday, & Friday, 9 am–noon*
  • Monday-Friday, 9 am–noon* (5 days)
  • Tuesday & Thursday, 9 am–3 pm

Option for Age 5

  • Monday-Thursday, 9 am–noon* (4 days)

*For an additional daily fee, children may participate lunch bunch until 1:00 pm. Early morning care is also available at 8:00 am.

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