UW logo

University of Washington Botanic Gardens


Washington Park Arboretum
Center for Urban Horticulture

Fiddleheads Forest School: Nature Preschool

fiddleheadchild buried in leavesbaby duckchild and teacher playing with a bat toy

Nature Preschool is FULL for 2014-2015. Please email ffschool@uw.edu to be put on the waitlist.

Take a moment to envision a three year old. This person is probably full of energy and exuding curiosity. Their hands are on everything, tuning into the world with their senses. Their excitement, energy and curiosity are contagious. This small human is developing on a massive scale. They are creating neural connections faster than at any other point in their development. They are learning about the world, and their curiosity knows no bounds. They are also learning about themselves and how to interact with other humans.

Now envision a preschool with those energetic, curious three year olds at the UWBG Washington Park Arboretum. Those small, curious hands look for bugs in the leaf litter of our forested areas. Their eyes and ears are fine-tuned by looking and listening for birds in our wetlands, their noses by smelling flowers in our Winter Garden, their taste buds by tasting ripe huckleberries in the Woodland Garden and their imaginations by laying in the grass along Azalea Way looking for cloud shapes.

Download our Application Form


The Fiddleheads Forest School believes in supporting the growth of the whole child through attention to their social and emotional development, self-regulation and physical development.

When children leave the Fiddleheads Forest School to enter their next phase they can...


Timing: 9am-12pmchild looking through magnifying glass
Class options: M/W/F or Tu/Th or M-F
Class size: maximum 12
Student to Teacher ratio: 1:6 (12 kids, 2 lead teachers + 1 or 2 UW student interns)

This is an entirely outdoor, nature-based program where the premise for our day-to-day activities is play and exploration. As children engage with the world around them and inquire about it we will supplement with curriculum to further engage their curiosity.

We will...

child seed activity



Application Process for 2014-2015 School Year

Our open house will be on January 25th from 10:30am-12pm. RSVP to ffschool@uw.edu to receive more information and directions to the Forest Grove.

Applicationsare due on March 14th. We will notify families of their acceptance or waitlist status by March 28th.

Barred Owl
2013-2014 Schedule

September 9 - First day of M/W/F class
September 10 - First day of Tu/Th class
October 11 - No class, professional development day
November 11 - No class, Veteran's Day
November 28 & 29 - No class, Thanksgiving break
December 23-January 3 - No class, winter break
January 20 - No class, Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 17 & 18 - No class, Presidents Day
March 14 - No class, professional development day
April 14-18 - Spring Break
May 26 - No class, Memorial Day
June 19 - Last day of Tu/Th class
June 20 - Last day of M/W/F class



The UW ConnectionUW logo

This program is part of the University of Washington and will involve UW students. We are developing a Pipeline Project to connect students studying in fields related to Early Childhood Education with the Fiddleheads Forest School. They are future educators, psychologists, social workers, nurses, etc. and we believe they will benefit from the opportunity to work in a nature-based early childhood program. Conversely, we will benefit from the new and innovative ideas they will bring to our program.

Contact Information

Sarah Heller, Director and Teacher

sshort@uw.edu; (206) 221-6427

Kit Harrington, Director and Teacher

kith@uw.edu; 206-616-5261

Last modified:
Monday, 31-Mar-2014 12:29:01 PDT