Help us create a place where children can develop an early passion and respect for nature, culture, and healthy food.
Dear Friends, we, Marc and Nicole, are in the process of starting a plant-based, nature-based, Spanish Immersion preschool in the urban city of Fort Worth, TX.
Over two years ago when we thought about the type of preschool we wanted to send our own children, we realized there was not one that covered what was important to us.
We wanted a school that:
- served plant-based foods
- taught about nature and spent a good part of the day out in nature
- spoke primarily in Spanish
We knew there were Spanish immersion schools in the area and a few nature schools in the state, but there was no school where all three of these things were housed in one school.
That is when we decided to start it ourselves. So, as Nicole already had a career in natural resources as a naturalist, park ranger, and natural scientist and learned Spanish from her days in Peace Corps Mexico, she began to take classes in early childhood development in 2017 to get the ball rolling.
This past summer we found a great opportunity on a small and cute property to start this preschool in the city of Fort Worth, TX. We have already made progress in purchasing supplies and securing the location and need some help from our friends around the world in raising some additional funds to finish purchasing materials, equipment, and to cover operating expenses for the first few months. Cute 1920's home that has been historically used as a daycare for the last 10 years. Project Need:
With the increased awareness of the impact of our food consumption habits on our health and the environment more people are looking to change their diets to be more plant-based. Not only are we facing a health epidemic, we are also facing a nature connection epidemic. Children and adults are spending less time outside in nature, know less about their natural world, and spend less time actively moving in it. Even when kids are in preschool, they are only allotted a small amount of daily outside time in very sterile conditions. Research is showing that being out in nature is essential to being healthy and happy. They have also shown that children who spend more time out in nature develop a relationship with it and are more likely to grow up to be environmental stewards. Teaching others about the importance of plants and nature for these very reasons is very important to create a world where people make better choices for their health and for the health of the environment.
The early childhood years is one of the best times to foster that relationship with and understanding of nature, the plants around us, and the plants that we consume. This is why we are currently in the process of opening Pebble Pond Preschool in Fort Worth for children 3 to 6 years of age. The school will focus on connecting to each other, our environment, and to our health.
At the school, we will have THREE GOALS.Goal 1: Children will learn to connect and form a relationship with nature and care for the environment.
1. Lessons will be taught with a nature theme in all aspects of the program.
2. An outdoor nature classroom will be created where children can explore, observe, free play and learn.
3. Children will be outside for around 50% of the day in our outdoor natural learning area.
4. A native wildlife garden and monarch waystation will be created for hands-on learning and observation.
5. Children will compost food scraps, use reusable items, use and make zero waste items, learn to make non-toxic cleaning chemicals, recycle, and incorporate other aspects to green our lives and school.
6. Children will build structures to create additional homes for birds, bugs, dragonflies, and toads.
7. Provide workshops for the public and programs such as Parent and me to teach more people about connecting children to nature and greener habits. Goal 2: Children will learn to connect with and learn the benefits of plant-based foods.
1. A vegetable, fruit, and herb garden will be built for children to learn how to grow their own food.
2. Children will use their senses to form connections and learn about the plants and their nutritional and medicinal properties through exploration, cooking, and other activities.
3. Children will eat a low sugar, vegan, plant-based meal where different herbs and vegetables will be introduced to them seasonally.
4. Children will learn about a new vegetable/fruit plant weekly with live plants and activities and have a check sheet of all the plants they have tasted and eaten.
5. Children will learn about herbs weekly and taste and smell them. They will also learn how to make items from them such as teas, soaps, use essential oils, and spices.
6. Provide workshops for the public and programs such as Parent and me to teach more people about vegan diets and herbalism. Goal 3: Children will learn to connect with each other and their community.
1. Children will be spoken to in Spanish to aid in the development of a second language.
2. Children will be exposed to different cultures through various projects and the rotation of elements in their classrooms.
3. Children will learn about the local history.
4. Children will be taught about the diversity of people to promote inclusion.
5. Children will be exposed to and interact with different forms of art, music, and dance.
6. Children and families will be encouraged to share their culture and family stories.
7. Children will participate in community projects and meet community members such as trash cleanups and meeting the local fire department.
As this school is still in the development stages, we are needing some assistance to furnish our school with more materials and equipment. FUNDING NEEDS:
Even though the children will be spending around 50% of their day outside we still have three indoor classrooms we need to furnish with toys, puzzles, books, art supplies, and equipment. The Outdoor Classroom:
This is going to be the center of life at the school. Your funds will help us make this an island of green in an urban area. We will plant native grasses, flowers, shrubs and build birdhouses, insect hotels, and toad homes, to attract native pollinators, birds, and other wildlife to have it certified as a wildlife habitat and monarch waystation. This wildlife habitat will provide opportunities for learning and interacting with nature. We will grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs in a raised garden and pots where we will teach the children how to grow their own food, the different qualities of these plants, learn how to cook and use the plants, appreciate their flavors, and use the garden for other teaching and learning opportunities. We will also be creating a small dragonfly water garden in the front of the school and in the back where we can teach about water quality and aquatic insects. To allow children to move and interact with nature more physically, have more free play opportunities, and develop gross/fine motor skills, and their imaginations, we will also be bringing in some natural structures to create natural playscapes such as plant tunnels, log balance beams, rotting logs, stepping logs/rocks, sandbox, loose natural items, tools and a mud kitchen. The funding would go toward purchasing the landscaping materials, loose play materials, observation tools, garden tools, herbalism curriculum, and books to create a dynamic nature and plant learning environment. Health and Safety:
Making sure the children are safe and healthy is a top priority. We would use the funds to purchase green and non-toxic cleaning products, soaps, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors. Admin Materials:
Funds for admin would be used to help purchase office supplies, a preschool software system, computer, cubbies for kids items, and the parent check-in area equipment.Front of Building:
Materials purchased would include a front sign, some seating for parents, and native plants to liven up the entrance. Operations:
Funds would be used to help cover the first month's utility bills and other last-minute improvements or needs on the facility.Kitchen:
The kitchen has been gutted out with just sinks and a refrigerator we purchased. Funds would be used to purchase a commercial stove, freezer, shelves, utensils, pots, pans, appliances, vented hood, grease trap, and fridge upgrades. The backyard is currently a sterile play environment with turf grass. We plan to transform this large space.Action Plan: Phase 1 completed by October 1st (DONE):
All the materials for the classrooms, bathroom, and kitchen would be purchased. We would purchase landscaping materials and materials for natural playscapes and have those areas and structures designated and in place. The areas would include the sandbox, mud kitchen (from upcycled items), loose items area (from natural items), outdoor stage, raised/potted vegetable garden, raised/potted herb garden, composting area, rain barrel, natural habitat, materials to make bird, toad, and insect homes, natural playscapes area and outdoor art and music area. Phase 2 completed by March of 2019:
We would purchase and plant native prairie seeds of our ecoregion, native shrubs, some fruit-bearing trees and bushes, vegetable/fruit seeds, herbs, native vines to grow on the plant tunnel, and plants for the water garden. We would plant and order what would grow that season to get the garden, habitat and natural playscape areas going and then grow the other seeds with the kids and plant more plants as the seasons permit. Trees and shrubs could be planted in the winter as this is the best time for planting in Texas and garden beds would be prepared and seeds would be germinated and ready for planting come late February or early March. Phase 3 complete the circle:
The best step would be the children enjoying the different areas in our outdoor classroom interacting with the plants and wildlife they attract. Growing and harvesting food and herbs. Learning about the health properties of the plants and the value to wildlife. Making teas from herbs and dishes from the veggies. Observing wildlife and using their imaginations to create amazing things and worlds for themselves. Children would be enjoying the already created natural playscape areas in the fall and winter and begin to see things grow and come to life in the spring of 2019.
As we all know, the things we teach our children reflect how they are going to lead their lives as adults. Setting positive values of inclusion, diversity, health, and environmental stewardship are a few ways to help ensure that children grow up to do things that are good and caring for others and the world around them. The name of the school was inspired by this quote: Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects. - Dalai Lama.
All of your support will mean that we can continue with our mission and see the fruition of hard work and love come to life. We would be given the gift of connecting children to their food, environment, and others and see them grow up to do great and compassionate things.
Thanks again for your amazing support. We can not wait to open this school in North Texas this fall with your help and share on the progress of our preschoolers.
Nicole and Marc