Experiential Learning

two preschool students playing experimenting with water and containers in classroom
5th graders silk screen printing in art barn
3rd graders on a field trip

Students learn by engaging in the world around them, by asking questions, and through exploration and discovery. With encouragement and guidance from teachers, they follow their personal interests and learn by doing.

Connections are made both within grades and beyond, fostering a sense of community. Older students mentor young students throughout their time in the Beginning and Lower School through intentional activities. Family members are invited to attend events, performances, and class trips.

Beginning School: Preschool and Kindergarten

With encouragement and guidance from teachers, preschoolers identify their areas of interest, follow their inquiry, and learn by doing. They explore the wooded areas of campus to answer questions about the natural world. 

In kindergarten, students continue to be supported in their open inquiry and independent thinking, an approach that fosters curiosity, openness to differing perspectives, and the desire to keep learning.

Lower School: 1st-5th Grades

Students deepen their understanding of conservation with a series of curriculum-focused nature walks, personal writing projects, and creation of a conservation park on campus. Studies in math and problem-solving are reinforced with hands-on constructivist projects related to real-world scenarios. As part of their studies, students learn from experts, engage in cross-disciplinary projects and simulations, and take part in off-campus class trips to study specific topics out in the field. Trips have included visits to local museums, downtown Portland, wastewater treatment plants, and the zoo. At the year's end, there's a Celebration of Learning night, in which students share what they’ve learned with their families.

Science is not a stand-alone subject. Students have time in their weekly Exploratorium Blocks to engage in science and the arts. This interdisciplinary approach allows students to research a topic and immerse themselves in understanding it. The goal is for students in every grade to be excited to explore and learn through exploration, wonder, discovery, and connection. The coursework is geared to each grade level, which means that in the younger grades the work is play based. As the students advance, they more fully immerse themselves in understanding and researching a topic, as well as presenting their findings.