Learning By Nature for ME

Educare Central Maine (ECM) is proud to be a part of the Learning By Nature for ME initiative – a collaboration to increase young children’s (0-8) access to nature-based play and learning across Maine.  In 2018, a nature-based play environment was installed at ECM (see photos at right) which is providing our children the interaction with nature that is so vital to their development.

For an update on how ECM is using outdoor learning, click here.

Our Mission: Helping Early Childhood Educators provide natural outdoor play environments where Maine children play and learn.


  • Because playing and learning with nature benefits children’s development across all domains (social, emotional, cognitive, fine motor, gross motor), encourages curiosity and early STEM learning, improves behaviors, and supports imaginative play, problem-solving, resiliency, mood and general well-being.
  • Because current trends (screen time, fear of dirt, over-protection from taking normal risks, etc.) deprive children of the outdoor play time they desperately need for healthy growth, self-directed learning and resiliency.
  • Because these improvements do not have to be more expensive, but do require taking some strategic steps in changing the way we teach and the outdoor environments where kids spend time.
  • Because a rapidly-growing body of research has proven this makes a difference in children’s development.

Through Learning by Nature for ME, Early Childhood Educators and families will have access to these resources:

  • Hands-on Guide to learn how to improve their school or center’s outdoor play/learning environment.
  • Trainings on strategies for using the Guide to implement improvements, starting where you are now.
  • Resource hub at Educare Central Maine for site visits, materials, and workshops.
  • Trainings in nature-based Early Childhood learning.
  • Access to sites to visit across the state where nature-based play environments and programs are in place.
  • E-learning online training modules via Maine Roads to Quality’s Professional Development Network.

To learn more, contact: LearningbyNatureforME@gmail.com

Learning by Nature for ME is a collaborative initiative to increase access to nature-based play and learning across Maine.  This specific project’s funding is in partnership with the Cabin Foundation through Kennebec Valley Community Action Program/Educare Central Maine in collaboration with the School Ground Greening Coalition, Kennebec Valley Community College, and Maine Roads to Quality.