Ottawa Forest and Nature School

What We Do

Our Forest and Nature School educators strive to provide children with opportunities to build an ongoing relationship with the land, with each other, and with themselves.
Ottawa Forest and Nature School programs, while sharing space on the outdoor learning continuum with other outdoor and environmental education programs, adhere to basic principles that define and distinguish them:

  • regular and repeated access to the land
  • child-centered, interest-led, inquiry-driven, educator-supported, learning and connecting through play on the land

We continue to be inspired by Indigenous history and presence on the land and acknowledge that we are walking and playing on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabeg Territory. Ottawa Forest and Nature School offers children, families and their communities inclusive, safe and supported, opportunities to learn and form connections to the land, each other, and themselves through child-centered, interest-led play in Ottawa’s urban nature continuum- from forests to parks, meadows to mud-puddles.

Young Black girl holding magnifying glass.

Visit the Ottawa Forest and Nature School

Rhythm of the Day

Every day at Ottawa Forest School unfolds differently based on the community present, their interests, the season, the weather, and the various loose parts found or introduced at the site. While every day is different, play, exploration, and connection to each other and the land threads through our adventures at Ottawa Forest and Nature School.

Each program values gathering to build community and support children in their friendships. We gather for story, to share ideas and vote on where in the forest we might play. Most days include a wandering out along the forest paths, or sidewalks in Nearby Nature programs, to a space that’s been chosen for play. Play can look like so many things – the construction of a stick shelter, the tarp that has been tied up between trees to become a boat on seas, the meticulous design of a fairy village, the game of tag or hide and seek, the squelching through mud or the opening of an ice museum. The play is active and still, quiet and loud and sometimes very messy! Our educators know and trust that the learning is always there – sometimes asking and sometimes quietly supporting.

The educators and children are always aware of the changing weather. Thunder, lightning or extreme cold means that that we stay closer to home, moving in and out of our cabin or yurt as needed, making art, putting on a play or tinkering with tools.

As the ending of the day approaches, we gather for a closing to again check in with each other and share highlights and stories from our day, as well as gratitude for the land, her creatures, and each other.

Children outdoors on bench.

Boy humourously licking ice.

Our Team

The Ottawa Forest and Nature School began as a branch of the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada (CNAC) and transitioned to Andrew Fleck Children’s Services  (AFCS) in July 2019. CNAC continues to operate Forest School Canada, including the Forest and Nature School Practitioners Course, Risky Play workshops and Outdoor Play First Aid.

All the OFNS teaching staff are experienced forest and nature school educators, who have participated in CNAC’s professional learning opportunities. Many are Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) and some are Early Childhood Educators (ECEs). They love to tell you what they’ve seen with your children that day, the learning that transpired and the challenges they worked through.

Learn more about The Child and Nature Alliance of Canada.

Interested in Volunteering?

Do you want to support children as they discover the magic of the forest? We welcome volunteers to join us regularly or occasionally. We need your help to chart our paths, record our adventures, and unlock the secrets of the rocks and trees and the creatures who live among them. 

Email Notification List

Sign up for our e-mail notification list to receive e-mails concerning future Ottawa Forest & Nature School opportunities. This includes notifications prior to the opening of public registration of all our programs.

Contact Us

613-736-5355 ext. 356​

Hours of Operation

9:00 am – 3:00 pm

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411 Corkstown Rd.,
Ottawa, Ontario K2K 2Y1