Little Explorers Playgroup

An opportunity for children aged 0-3 years and their family members to explore natural spaces and network with other families who enjoy spending time in nature. The playgroup is an opportunity for families to be introduced to The Nature School's vision "A world where nature and learning create a sustainable future. " and to its concepts of creative, child-led and unstructured nature play.

2022 update


Unfortunately, last year was quite difficult for our wonderful Playgroup, despite the amazing support from all our families.

While we are so excited to restart Little Explorers Playgroup, we will not be ready to start from the beginning of Term 1 as we normally do. We miss seeing you all, and hope you are able to find some adventurous natural spaces to explore and enjoy, until we are ready to resume playgroup.


Please keep an eye on our social media pages and private Facebook group for any updates, and we will all hopefully be back out in the bush together soon!

As always, thank you for all your support of our programs. We love what we do and are so grateful to share it with you all. 


Playgroup Facilitator

Belinda Castle

Belinda has been involved with TNS since the Early Years pilot program, which her 2 daughters attended. Both are now at TNS Primary. Belinda is a trained children’s services educator with over 15 years experience in the professional early childhood sector. She grew up locally, training in music and performing in eisteddfods and musical theatre productions before ‘settling down’ in Port Macquarie. Being an avid reader, Belinda loves to escape on adventures both fictional and real. She has scuba dived all along the northern NSW & southern QLD coast, as well as around Vanuatu gaining more than 50 dives - including night dives and wrecks - in her ‘pre-children’ days. Family life with her music teacher husband and very active daughters keeps her busy, but regular yoga practice, and of course getting back to nature, are weekly priorities keeping Belinda passionate and motivated!

Frequently Asked Question about the Playgroup

Who can be involved in the Playgroup?
Babies and young children aged 0 – 3 years and their older siblings; accompanied by their parents, carers, and grandparents. Parents/carers are responsible for their children at all times during the sessions. The sessions run between 930am-1030am each Monday and give parents, babies and toddlers the chance to spend time in nature, and connect with other families. The Little Explorers Playgroup is a great way for children and families to engage with The Nature School programs, particularly if you think your child may like to go on to our Early Years program or Primary School when they are older.

How is the Little Explorers Playgroup different to other playgroups?
The Little Explorers Playgroup takes place entirely outdoors. Children spend the session in a wild space, driving their own learning through the exploration of the natural environment. The sessions are mostly unstructured; children are invited to discover the natural environment at their own pace, noticing things that interest them and exploring. This gives children the opportunity to gain confidence in the world around them and learn how to manage risks, use their unending imagination and creativity, and build respect for one another and for the natural environment. Parents enjoy watching and joining in as their child leads the play and exploration experiences, providing gentle scaffolding as needed.

Do I need to book ahead for the sessions?
Yes. Due to the need to cap numbers at sites, we bookings are made for 5 week blocks. Casual bookings may be possible on a given day, but we will not know this until the morning of a session.

Is food provided?
Please bring along your own nut free morning tea and water bottle. Extra drinking water will be provided if needed. Please consider the Nature School guidelines on healthy foods and minimising rubbish. No bins are provided on site. We suggest using a reusable container and wrapping items.

What do I need to bring?
As the sessions are held outside, we need to be prepared for all weather.
The Nature School recommends these items for children and families during outdoor activities:
   - a wide brimmed hat
  - long trousers for protection from branches, mosquitos, ticks and other insects (in summer         months, lightweight long pants)

   - long sleeved top; in summer, there might be very hot days but sleeves will protect your          

      children’s shoulders from the harsh sun, insects and branches (clothes made of linen may

      be a good option as they are thin and breathable)
   - old clothes are a preference – your children’s clothing will get dirty and muddy
   - enclosed, flexible soled shoes
   - rain jacket, waterproof pants, gumboots when it is wet
   - babies may need a waterproof coverall or waterproof pants, especially if they are crawling
   - spare set of clothes
   - old towel or sheet (for the car seat on the way home)
   - please apply sunscreen before or when arriving at playgroup
   - A carrier or wrap for babywearing may be useful; the terrain is uneven and does not suit the use of prams.


Depending on the activity, at times it may be safer for children to go barefoot (for example, when climbing) or safer for them to wear shoes (for example, walking in long grass). As a parent/carer we ask you to please make this decision with your child as the session progresses.

We will take care to ensure time spent in the bright sun is kept to a minimum after 10am, especially in Summer, aiming to stay under the shade of trees.

The Nature School encourages the use of chemical free insect repellent, sunscreen, clothing and equipment. For more information about these, please ask an educator or a volunteer organiser. 


 For all enquiries, please email or call (02) 6581 5392.