Ottawa Forest and Nature School

Who We Are

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 is paramount in all our adventures at Ottawa Forest and Nature School.

It could mean setting up a pulley and basket system, or flipping over logs and stumps to search for hiding creatures, or creating a leaf rubbing with the art supplies set up on a picnic table. Once everyone has settled in, participants will be called together for a meeting, during which we check in with each other and make a plan for the day. Often that plan involves hiking through the woods surrounding our cabin where we may discover new places to play, build forts, and climb trees.

Other times we may stay closer to home, making art, putting on a play, building a fire, 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.


What We Do

At Ottawa Forest and Nature School (OFNS), children spend full days outdoors in local woodlands and green spaces, in various urban and near-urban parks, natural spaces adjacent to or on school grounds, or natural playgrounds and outdoor classrooms. Children attending OFNS have the opportunity to learn in a natural environment on a regular basis.

All Forest and Nature School programs adhere to the following: regular and repeated access to the same natural spaces, as well as emergent, experiential, inquiry-based, play-based, and place-based learning. The defining feature of this type of nature-based education program is that children are provided with opportunities to build an on-going relationship with the land, to a dedicated educator, to one another, and to themselves through this educational approach.


Our Team

All of the teaching staff are certified Forest and Nature School Practitioner’s as well as qualified in Early Childhood Education, or have an equivalent qualification, plus First Aid / CPR qualifications. The team continuously participates in additional professional learning  to upgrade their skills, and develop new areas of expertise and are very committed to the welfare and development of children. They are always available for consultation, information and resources.


The Lottery Approach

This is our approach for this year to manage the overwhelming demand – thank you for your patience and we are ecstatic to invite so many people to the forest. We also want to know what other options you would be interested in and look forward to hearing your feedback.

We maintained the Child and Nature Alliance’s tradition and past practice of giving priority to currently enrolled families resulting in very limited spaces being available for open registration. We decided that the most equitable way to offer the remaining spaces would be through a lottery; the public registration lottery for the Fall session of the Ottawa Forest & Nature School will be open for two days July 16th and 17th. On July 18th we will randomly assign the available spaces from all of the families that chose that option.


Interested in volunteering?

Are you an explorer, educator or an artist? We’ve been waiting for you to help us discover the wonders of our site! Are you a cartographer, a local historian, a budding naturalist? Do you want to support children as they discover the magic of the forest? 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. We’d love to hear from you: ofns@afchildrensservices.ca


E-mail 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 of our programs.

Click here to sign up!


How to Contact Us:

411 Corkstown Ave.,
Ottawa, Ontario K2K 2Y1

Tel. 613-736-5355 ext. 356

E-mail: ofns@afchildrensservices.ca