Cedar Valley Explorers

Welcome Families! If you would like more information about this program, please contact info@greenplaynw.org.

To learn more, visit our General Enrollment Information page.

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Our Program Philosophy

Greenplay Northwest has built a community around offering nature-immersion programs for preschool-aged children. It has been a long dream of ours to reach out to older children, because we know the benefits of nature play and exploration do not cease when a child reaches traditional school-age. With our Cedar Valley Explorers program, we are creating space for children aged 6-9 to feel the freedom of child-led nature exploration each week.

Cedar Valley Explorers will use the vast natural space at Royal Arch Park (Maple Valley) to cultivate nature-awareness through outdoor play. Children will be outside year round, once weekly, to explore and play together. This program will focus on connecting to nature through deep play and observation of the natural world. It will offer opportunities for tool-use and collaborative projects as well, always following the lead of the children- and their many fascinations!

As always, Cedar Valley Explorers will draw from earth-based teachings – the four directions, the cycles of life and death in the natural world, and the language of animals and plants – while also incorporating the educational philosophies found in Waldorf and Reggio Emilia approaches. We will also give children in our program a place where they can take safe risks. We are in favor of being less fearful and more open to a childhood experience characterized by purposeful and collaborative risk-taking.


Our Classroom

Royal Arch Park is located at a private park on 22-acre filled with forest and fields, in Maple Valley, WA. From this location we have access to fruit trees, hiking trails, the Cedar River, and future garden beds.  At the park there bathrooms and shelter space. We look forward to our students contributing to the development of their own special spaces in the forest, trails and fields for mud play, digging, climbing, resting, and gathering.


Why We’re Unique


–   Small, inclusive circles with a 1:6 teacher to child ratio
–   An approach to education that honors the whole child
–   Loving guidance and  support from our teachers
–   An awareness and appreciation for the natural world
–   The creation of a childhood landscape that is rich and memorable
–   Freedom to create and direct their own learning and interests
–   Ample time for play in a safe and loving environment
–   A sense of belonging and community


Program Details

AGES: 6-9. Children must be age 6 by September 1st of the school year. Children who turn 10 before June 1st of the school year are not eligible to enroll.
CLASS SIZE: 12 children and 2 teachers
HOURS: Friday Afternoons, 1:00-3:00pm
TUITION: $125/month. We are a 9-month-long program (September thru May)
REGISTRATION FEE: $100.00/child


We know that providing the best quality education for your child represents a financial commitment. We also believe that every child and family, regardless of economic status or circumstance, should have equal access to our programs and services.  If you would like to apply for financial assistance, please contact Ken Kinnear at Treasurer@greenplaynw.org. All information we receive will be completely confidential.

All our welcome here. To view our organization’s non-discrimination policy, click here.

To view our organizations Covid-19 Guidelines, click here.

To learn more about our talented teachers and staff, click here


Q & A

Q: What is a Forest School?

A: Forest Schools, also known as Forest Kindergartens, believe that young children learn best and develop in healthy ways when they can play and connect to the natural world around them. Our programs follow the American Forest Kindergarten Association‘s model, which values place-based education, child-direct learning, and small class sizes.

Q: What curriculum do you use?

A: We are a play-based early childhood program committed to helping families raise happy, healthy, and capable children. We use an ’emergent curriculum’ to support individual and group learning processes, allowing for our activities and agenda to be interest-led and child-driven. We are also inspired by the traditions of Waldorf and Reggio Emilia; protecting the senses, promoting beauty and reverence, using the environment as our 3rd teacher, and viewing children as competent, capable, and creative learners.

Q: Will my child be outside the whole time?

A: Yes! We are a full nature-immersion program so we will be spending all of our time outside, rain or shine.

Q: What kind of equipment/clothing must my child bring?

A: All registered families will be given a seasonal gear list. It is imperative that children come to school prepared for the weather so that they are able to spend all of their energy on playing and learning, and less on trying to stay warm and dry.

Q: Can parents participate and/or volunteer?

A: Yes! We welcome parents and community volunteers to participate in all aspects of our programming. We appreciate the talent, enthusiasm, and loving presence of parents in our community who are willing to share their work and wisdom with us. Volunteering can take on many forms – helping us reach out to new families, staffing our school booth at community events, sharing musical and artistic talents with our students, providing leadership for special events, or joining our Board of Directors.

Q: Does your program incorporate religious teachings?

A: No. However, we do believe that all humans (and all living things) exist as part of a spiritual dimension and are deeply connected. Our program emphasizes peace, thankfulness, and respect for self, others, and the natural world.