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 in which all people learn from and within nature" and to its concepts of creative, child-led and unstructured nature play.
When: Every Monday (during school term) 9:00 - 11:00am
How Much: $8 per session (Billed Termly), per family ($10 per year for insurance and administrative purposes)
Where: Calwalla Park, Port Macquarie, NSW - Locations may vary so please Contact Us to find out more.
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 9:00am and 11:00am 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 the early childhood programs once they are 3 years or 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, in 2020 we will be moving to term bookings. Casual bookings may be possible on a given day, but we will not know this until the morning of a session. In Term 1, families will be able to book 5 or 10 session passes, but these will not transfer over to following terms.
If you would like to come and try, you can come for a session and if you would like to continue, this will be taken off your session pass when you purchase it.
To purchase a session pass, please email Louise at with your name and email and your child's name for invoicing purposes.
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 (The Nature School sells a branded UPF50+, wide brimmed hat for AUD15)
- 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.
Belinda has been involved with TNS since the Early Years pilot program, which her elder daughter attended and who is now in Year 1 at TNS Primary. Her younger daughter has been actively enjoying playgroup and the Early Years Program for the last couple of years. Belinda is a trained children’s services educator with over 12 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!