Tess with kids and tipi at Wildheart's Bend outdoor kindergarten

Wildheart Kindergarten

Mixed-Age Outdoor Kindergarten for Ages 3 1/25 1/2
SeptemberJune
Juniper Jungle Learning Farm + Twin Acres
You can sign up separately for Semesters 1 and 2!

Wildheart Kindergarten offers experiential outdoor learning in a small group, directed by a certified and experienced Waldorf Teacher.

Our mission is to support the child’s curiosity and inner resilience, while guiding their connection to nature, community, and environmental stewardship.

What is Wildheart Kindergarten?

Wildheart Kindergarten is a unique mixed-age outdoor school serving children ages 3 1/2 to 5 1/2. We foster holistic child development directly from a natural world classroom that includes a waterproof shelter and access to a bathroom. Through our experiential and emergent learning model, open-ended exploration leads to informative reflection. Child-led interests are always mirrored in the framework of daily lessons. We learn and play amongst wild-growth meadows, woodland trails, a meandering stream, and farm animals. Teacher observation of the child’s wonder becomes a living scaffolding for learning opportunities. Lessons meet individual strengths, while guiding the child toward specific developmental goals. Our living curriculum engages the whole child in a deeply-connected learning process. From this connection with nature, the child’s innate capacities emerge.

Children will come away with foundations in:

1. Gardening and Permaculture

Children are immersed in the rhythm of life by planning, cultivating and harvesting the complete cycle of a garden. From putting down mulch and planting seeds to nurturing and harvesting the crop, children engage with their food, even as they observe the garden’s eventual decay.

2. Literacy

The remarkable designs of nature prompt exploration and lead to the discovery of letters rather than a traditional and linear memorization approach to literacy. Phonetic and visual letter attributes become connected with an object from nature and paired sensory experiences reinforce both learning and the appreciation of nature.

3. Music

We celebrate music with natural instruments we create on the farm, handmade instruments from our teachers, and novel instruments from around the world (such as didgeridoos and hang drums).

4. Problem Solving

Outdoor experiences promote more advanced problem-solving skills, less stress, and enhanced creativity, according to the articles in “Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations,” edited by Peter Kahn and Stephen Kellert. Wildheart Kindergarteners learn how to solve challenges in a fun way by collecting the most effective sticks for a fire, discovering primitive crafts, building shelters, and interacting in a community, and more.

5. Concentration, Interpersonal Skills, and Emotional Regulation

The flow of our day mirrors the natural rhythm of the breath. We balance the in-breath of togetherness and focus with the out-breath of free play, solitude, and rest. According to the same study mentioned above, children who spend time in nature experience higher levels of mental, emotional, and physical health, better concentration, greater interpersonal skills, and increased self-discipline.

6. Stewardship

Our farm location provides children with a perfect hands-on opportunity to embody stewardship. Children enact farm chores such as feeding and caring for the animals. In addition, children become mindful of waste and trash, and observe their impact on the world around them.

7. Imaginative Play

Nature, open-ended toys, and prompts stimulate the children’s imagination. We allot children plenty of opportunity for expansive play to unfold. Learning and playing in nature are intertwined at Wildheart Kindergarten to create a joyous entree into their world.

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Students will explore:

– Watercolor painting
– Beeswax modeling
– Letter learning
– Music
– Storytelling
– Wild-crafting edible and medicinal plants
– Food preservation
– Wool handwork
– Journaling
– Book binding
– Mindfulness and sensory awareness
– Fantasy themed activities such as faerie house creation and magical scavenger hunts
– Cob natural building
– Farm animal tending

Four Kids Laughing Under Tree

“Wildheart KinderCamp has been an incredible place for our son to learn and grow this fall. Miss Tess creates a nurturing environment where every kid feels safe to be themselves. They have opportunities to practice both independence and teamwork, leadership and cooperation, all while learning about the natural world and our place in it. Our son has blossomed as part of this caring group.”

Jessica Higgins, 2021

“Prior to Wildheart my daughter had never been in a school or large social setting of any kind. Naturally of a quieter and reserved natured, we knew we needed a program that would foster her gentle spirit and specific needs. Although it was a large change for us all, especially our daughter, we felt comforted knowing the teachers at Wildheart would warmly embrace her into their unique and loving community. The outdoor component, the waldorf approach in addition to the other like minded parents, all helped to create just what our daughter needed. She is almost a year completed and she has bloomed into a more vibrant version of herself. She comes home with windblown hair, singing songs and telling stories of her day. Is Wildheart a regular school? Most definitely not, it is like none other and we are so blessed to have come across it at this needed time in our lives.”

Sylvie Roy, 2022

Daily Rhythm

9:30 AM Arrival and Tea

10:00 AM Morning Nature Hike

10:30 AM Wash Up and Snack

11:00 AM Inspired Activity

Example Activities:

Tuesday: Letter Learning and Journaling
Wednesday: Gardening
Thursday: Shelter and Campfire Building

11:00 PM Imaginative Free Play

12:30 PM Wash Up and Lunch

1:00 PM Art in Activity

1:30 PM Story Time and Pick Up

Artistic activities follow the cycle of the seasons, with circle time and storytelling reflecting the same. Herb Harvest Hike is a daily peek into the skill of wildcrafted herbal tea-making. Imaginative freeplay is supervised exploration of fort building, hay bale and mud kitchen baking, sand and stick art, animal home tracking and class adventures on the whim of curiosity. Lunch and Snack are brought from home. Restful time is not a nap time, but a quiet in-breath to find calm while listening to a story. Art lessons will range in mediums and will be bound into a handmade book of artwork by each child.

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Kids watering the garden at summer camp

Juniper Jungle Learning Farm

22135 Erickson Rd. Bend, OR 97701

Welcome! Juniper Jungle Learning Farm is a classroom, a discovery center, a place to grow, a place to gather. The mission of this family farm is to engage children and adults in learning about farming, food systems, and their importance to our community.

Central Oregon property

Twin Acres

65705 White Rock Loop Bend, OR 97703

This 2 acre property is the old Homestead of Peter Jensen, built in 1903. It is right down the road from the Deschutes River, making it a perfect place for games, riparian explorations, and animal sightings. Our primary structure will be a geodesic greenhouse dome. Projects are just beginning at this location but will include permaculture, cob natural building, and farm animal tending.

Tess Vining

Kindergarten Director

Inspired by the holistic approach to education in Waldorf pedagogy, Miss Tess completed a two-year intensive teacher training at Waldorf Teacher Education in Eugene, Oregon, and began working as an Aftercare Teacher at Corvallis Waldorf School, before becoming Director of Early Childhood at CWS. The incredible community of the Waldorf School of Bend brought Miss Tess to Bend in 2016, where she assisted in early childhood and grades classes before leading the Huckleberry Preschool.  During summers, her son attended Wildheart Nature School camps and learned environmental stewardship and the virtues of being a reliable, resilient and loving friend in a greater community.  Integrating the values of Wildheart nature education and Waldorf, the Wildheart KinderCamp was formed to serve Kindergarten-aged children. When not teaching on the farm, Miss Tess is playing in the PNW mountains with her family and friends. Miss Tess is certified in Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED by the American Heart Association.

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SPRING 2022 JUNIPER JUNGLE

FIRST SEMESTER
Tuesday, September 21st, 2021–Friday, December 17th, 2021
9:30am–1:30pm Tuesday–Fridays
Cohort limited to 14 students
Lead Teacher: Tess Vining

Pay in Full: $2,827*
Payment Plan: Pay a $400 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments SeptemberDecember of $607*

  • Veterans Day Thursday, November 11th (School in Session)
  • Thanksgiving Break November 23rd–26th (No School)

SECOND SEMESTER
Tuesday, January 11th, 2022–Friday, June 3rd, 2022
9:30am–1:30pm Tuesday–Fridays
Cohort limited to 14 students
Lead Teacher: Tess Vining

Pay in Full: $4,474*
Monthly Payments:
Pay a $400 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments January–June of $679*

  • Teacher Development February 15th–18th (No School)
  • Spring Break March 22–25th (No School)
  • May Faire Celebration Friday, May 6th (Special Family Event)

*There is a 4% discount for signing up for both semesters and an additional 4% discount for siblings who sign up together.

FALL 2022–SPRING 2023 JUPIPER JUNGLE

FIRST SEMESTER
Tuesday, September 20th, 2022–Friday, December 16th, 2022
12 weeks
9:30am–1:30pm Tuesday–Fridays
Lead Teacher: Margaret Persaud

Pay in Full: $2,827*
Payment Plan: Pay a $400 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments SeptemberDecember of $607*

  • Parent Teacher Conferences, November 1st-2nd (No School)
  • Veterans Day Thursday, November 11th (School is in Session)
  • Thanksgiving Break November 22nd–25th (No School)

SECOND SEMESTER

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023–Friday, June 2nd, 2023
19 weeks
9:30am–1:30pm Tuesday–Fridays
Lead Teacher: Margaret Persaud

Pay in Full: $4,474*
Monthly Payments:
Pay a $400 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments January–June of $679*

  • Teacher Development February 21st-24th/Presidents Day February 20th (No School)
  • Spring Break March 28th- 31st (No School)
  • May Faire Celebration Friday, May 5th (Special Family Event)
  • Flyaway Graduation Friday, June 2nd (Family Event)

*There is a 4% discount for signing up for both semesters and an additional 4% discount for siblings who sign up together.

FALL 2022–SPRING 2023 TWIN ACRES

FIRST SEMESTER
Tuesday, September 20th, 2022–Friday, December 16th, 2022
12 weeks
9:30am–1:30pm Tuesday–Fridays
Lead Teacher: Rainbow Dreamer

Pay in Full: $2,827*
Payment Plan: Pay a $400 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments SeptemberDecember of $607*

  • Parent Teacher Conferences, November 1st-2nd (No School)
  • Veterans Day Thursday, November 11th (School is in Session)
  • Thanksgiving Break November 22nd–25th (No School)

SECOND SEMESTER

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023–Friday, June 2nd, 2023
19 weeks
9:30am–1:30pm Tuesday–Fridays
Lead Teacher: Rainbow Dreamer

Pay in Full: $4,474*
Monthly Payments:
Pay a $400 non-refundable deposit upon registering and then plan to make monthly payments January–June of $679*

  • Teacher Development February 21st-24th/Presidents Day February 20th (No School)
  • Spring Break March 28th- 31st (No School)
  • May Faire Celebration Friday, May 5th (Special Family Event)
  • Flyaway Graduation Friday, June 2nd (Family Event)

*There is a 4% discount for signing up for both semesters and an additional 4% discount for siblings who sign up together.

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