Two kids running in the snow. We all need nature—and nature needs you. Together, we can protect the wildlife and wild lands of Massachusetts for generations to come. Make a tax-deductible donation today.
Two kids running in the snow. We all need nature—and nature needs you. Together, we can protect the wildlife and wild lands of Massachusetts for generations to come. Make a tax-deductible donation today.
Up close shot of a white flower with gate in the background
Endicott Wildlife Sanctuary, Wenham

Ipswich River Nature Preschool

The Ipswich River Nature Preschool at Endicott provides young children, ages 3-5, with early educational experiences that foster the development of the whole child and a lifelong relationship with nature.

Location

The preschool is located at Mass Audubon's Endicott Wildlife Sanctuary in Wenham. The 40-acre sanctuary offers a variety of opportunities for exciting daily investigation, observation, and discovery. We spend the majority of our day outdoors where hands-on science activities, nature walks, and gardening foster curiosity and creativity.

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

Preschools walking on a boardingwalk
Ipswich River Nature Preschoolers at Endicott Wildlife Sanctuary, Wenham

Curriculum

Ipswich River Nature Preschool is grounded in developmentally appropriate state and national early childhood education guidelines. Inside our two spacious classrooms, nature themes continue with children’s literature, music and movement, dramatic play, cooking, blocks and building, and art activities.

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.

Program Options 

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.

Chickadees (age 3) & Blue Jays (age 4)

  • Tuesday & Thursday, 9 am–12 pm
  • Monday, Wednesday, & Friday, 9 am–12 pm
  • Monday-Friday, 9 am–12 pm (5 days)

Owls (ages 4-5)

  • Monday-Thursday, 9 am–12 pm (4 days)

Additional Options (all ages)

  • Early drop-off, 8–9 am
  • Lunch Bunch, 12–1 pm
  • Monday-Thursday afternoons, 12–3 pm (includes Lunch Bunch) Please note that afternoon programming is dependent on enrollment.
  • Friday Morning Explorers, 9 am-12 pm as a 5th morning option for Owl and Tuesday/Thursday Blue Jay children.

How to Apply

All interested families must submit an application for enrollment. Spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis and admission is by date order as applications are received. Priority is given to current families, siblings, and alumni families. 

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 enrollment, to be considered for admission. Limited financial aid is available. 

Contact Information

For questions about preschool or the application process, please email or call us at 978-237-0108. 

  • three preschool girls looking at a bowl outside
  • Ipswich River Preschool Boys Picking Tomatoes
  • Preschoolers listening to a story on a boardwalk
  • Two preschoolers looking at turtles in a tank
  • Two children dig in the dirt.
  • Two children run through the grass, trailing cloth butterfly wings behind them.
  • A teacher naturalist shares a picture book with a group of children.
  • Ten children and an adult standing on an L-shaped boardwalk covered in a dusting of snow. A snowy grassland and forest extends in front of them.