Nature-Based Learning, and What’s So Great About Waneka Lake? 

Colorful playground structures at Waneka Lake Park in Lafayette

At Treehouse Learning, we don’t take our beautiful location in Eastern Boulder County for granted! Especially our close proximity to Waneka Lake Park, an amazing wildlife gem nestled in the City of Lafayette.

Not only do we get to borrow from the best of the cultural resources around Lousiville, Lafayette, Boulder, Erie, Superior, and Longmont, but we’re also located in an incredibly beautiful location with easy access to all sorts of diverse ecosystems.

We’ve got spectacular views of the Front Range and Indian Peaks Wilderness, plus abundant trail access, including along Coal Creek, Boulder Creek, and parks galore. Lafayette is also proud to be designated the first Bird City in Colorado, which means a community-wide commitment to conserving native bird species and the habitats they provide and is additionally a designated Tree City too. This is positive for children, our community, and for the planet!

image of a house on a lake | nature and play based learning Lousiville, Lafayette, Boulder, Erie, Superior, and Longmont,

At our play-based quality early childhood education center at Treehouse Learning, we incorporate our location and surroundings into our curriculum and learning experiences intentionally, and at developmentally appropriate levels.

We focus on noticing and naming local birds, connecting to local wildlife, creating pollinator gardens, starting seeds, gardening and food programs, and re-designing our playgrounds and outdoor spaces to diversify and increase our habitat for birds and beneficial insects while also decreasing our water consumption.

We focus on the intentional incorporation of the wildlife and natural resources specific to our geography in Louisville/Lafayette/Boulder County because the local connection to our immediate surroundings creates relevance and meaning for children. Children learn to love nature by caring for nature, which begins by being in direct relationship to the living systems around us.

Plus, nature-based learning is an efficient and effective way to foster children’s innate curiosity and interest in the sciences, engage in the world around us, and support children to grow up leading healthy, thriving, and interesting lives.

Nature-based learning, exploration, and child-led inquiry are the intuitive pathway into whole-person development by supporting children’s physical, social-emotional, and cognitive development. Plus, we believe that it prepares children to be active participants in an environmental, entrepreneurial economy where their professional and personal activities all contribute to a healthy planet and thriving world.

Read more odes to nature-based learning and environmental literacy at Treehouse Learning!

image of a bald eagle in a tree | nature and play based learning Lousiville, Lafayette, Boulder, Erie, Superior, and Longmont,

Environmental Literacy, Social Justice, and Thriving Human Ecosystems

With our upcoming annual family potluck picnic at Waneka Lake, our local parks and outdoor spaces have been on our minds! We’re extremely fortunate to live in a community with so many opportunities to access beautiful outdoor spaces.

For families with young children, parks are an easy gateway into developing a lifelong love of nature and a connection with the outdoors that shapes lifelong engagement with the environment. This is foundational not just for children’s learning but also critical for the health and future of our planet!

Our mission at Treehouse Learning in helping the world thrive is to connect and strengthen relationships between human systems and Earth’s living systems, and a park is one of the easiest ways to build interdependent relationships that benefit the whole child and the whole planet! 

Plus, parks and public green spaces represent the beautiful intersection of our BIDES values (Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Sustainability). There is no membership or fee required to spend time outside and all are welcome just as they are.

We don’t believe there is ever a clear distinction between environmental justice and social justice, or emotional literacy, academic literacy, and environmental literacy. Nature-based playful learning experiences, like what is freely available to all at parks, are a perfect example of the integration between human systems and ecological systems, as these concepts are all related.

The bottom line: we want our children’s bodies, brains and hearts hooked on nature and the outdoors, because it is good for children, good for communities, and good for the Earth!


image of a playground | nature play-based learning Lousiville, Lafayette, Boulder, Erie, Superior, and Longmont,

 Top 10 + things we love about Waneka Lake:

  1. Birds and wildlife galore! Check out Greenlee Wildlife Preserve and the Shack interactive learning center on the NW corner of the Lake for direct learning activities, or simply walk around the lake to observe dozens of species of birds, including hawks, owls, and water birds
  2. Great playground with mature shade trees (while we love any good playground, Waneka Lake is quite special in the fantastic shade offered all summer long!)
  3. Little Free Library near the playground is always a great place to leave or find a good book
  4. Bathrooms nearby the playground, including changing tables, running water, and soap!
  5. Picnic areas with tables, and grills (and for adventurous snackers, wild currants can also be found around the lake)
  6. Whole-family physical engagement– you can ride your bike or run around the lake, participate in outdoor activities (classes, Basketball, pickleball, etc)
  7. Red Wagon Farm store, CSA, and U-Pick events
  8. Walkable distance from Treehouse Learning, and a perfect location for Summer Program field trips
  9. Super affordable location for birthday parties or group gatherings
  10. The “wild thicket” behind the playground for older children to explore
  11. Accessibility for all bodies, including people using wheelchairs
  12. Well-maintained green spaces for all in our community to enjoy

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