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Who We Are

At Wild Oak Explorers, our mission is to provide children access to explore and take risks in nature as they learn about our local flora, fauna, and community, while inspiring a life-long dedication to environmental stewardship.

ABOUT

Wild Oak Explorers is a 100% outdoor, nature immersion program. We adhere to the motto: There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing choices.

 

Founded in 2019 by Erica (known as Stacey) Tappan, Wild Oak Explorers has provided nature-based enrichment for Nassau and Duval County children and families. 

 

Stacey began her Wild Oak journey when she was looking for exploring alternative learning methods for her then 2-year-old neurodivergent child, when she learned about forest schools, a teaching approach developed in the 1950s in Denmark. 

 

Seeing a lack of local options for this kind of education, Stacey went on to receive official training through Eastern Region of Forest and Nature Schools in 2019 and has continued her training through the Forest Teacher Institute and other professional development programs. 

 

  • Our Philosophy 

We believe that children learn best through direct experience with the natural world.  Our goal at Wild Oak Explorers is to tap into their sense of wonder about nature while teaching basic environmental and natural science principles.  We promote individual empowerment and group bonding. We teach respect for all living beings and how to minimize our impact on the earth. Our lesson plans flow organically from what nature presents us with each day. 

 

To nurture natural learning, we provide an environment that is supportive and safe and encourages discovery, experimentation, and thoughtful inquiry. We offer plenty of free, unstructured play that encourages problem solving, creative thinking, and facilitates healthy social interactions.

 

Key principles of our approach

  • Child-led

  • Play-based

  • Montessori-style 

  • Inquiry-based learning

  • Place based education

  • Environmental stewardship

  • Nature immersion in a variety of weather

  • Respect for all living beings

  • Study of the natural world and local habitats

 

Wild Oak Explorers is a supplementary enrichment program for homeschool children and is not licensed or accredited as a school or child care facility.

A day in the life

Morning Greeting - Our days start with going over our Be Kind to Nature, Be Kind to friends, and Be Kind to ourselves rules.

Feeding Animals-We fill our wagons with hay to feed the farm animals and gather feed for the chickens and ducks.

Morning Meeting-We gather and discuss our wonders and what tools we have packed with us for the day depending on prior interests

Trail Snack - We gather for a healthy snack and a drink of water.  We take a few moments to practice mindfulness as we do star breath or something from our Breathe Like a Bear book. making sure to tune into our senses - the sounds, smells and sights in our place, in that moment. We will then pack our lunch boxes away and get ready for an activity based on the current interests of the children. You may find them measuring the girth of a tree or exploring field guides and books to identify an insect or plant. Once we wrap this up, we will have free play again.
Free Play -Children may build a fort or use tools, track animals, measure shadows, investigate an anthill, climb a tree, get involved in an open ended art/invention project, create mud kitchen delicacies or any other of a number of possibilities. that occur with immersion in nature. Our wooden Frog will tell everyone it's time for free play to end and we will transition to lunch.

Hike through the Woods - Children hike through the woods with a guide, often identifying plants, observing changing aspects in nature, finding animals and their tracks, and much more.

Lunch-We take a few moments to practice mindfulness as we do star breath or something from our Breathe Like a Bear book. making sure to tune into our senses - the sounds, smells and sights in our place, in that moment. We may be discussing with friends our weekend or reading from a chapter book.  We will then pack our lunch boxes away and get ready
Clean Up/ Prepare to leave - Everyone takes responsibility for their belongings and helping one another so we leave our space clean and neat.
Closing Circle - We gather together again to recap on our favorite moments of the day, give thanks for our time in nature, and see our friends off.

*Mentors are present throughout the day to maintain safety and offer resources, to invisibly guide and foster each child’s discovery of his or her own gifts and passions, and to create a vessel for building their relationship with the natural world, themselves, and each other.

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STAFF

Stacey Tappan
Mary
Christiansen
Barry Tappan

Founder & Guide

Guide

Mr. Do-It-All

CONTACT US
We love to hear from parents, educators, community organizations, businesses and anyone else interested in helping children learn in nature.

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