“Planning for Play and Intentionally Connecting Children’s Interests with Curricular Goals”


November 11, 2022


@ Fenner Nature Center

2020 E. Mt. Hope Ave., Lansing, MI 48910



“Planning for Play & Intentionally Connecting Children’s Interests with Curricular Goals”

It sounds counterintuitive, but an emergent curriculum that is rooted in play and driven by children’s interests requires intentional planning. This session will focus on intentional planning that connects play to children’s interests, events happening in the natural world, and broader curricular goals. 


Rachel Larimore PhD, Samara Early Learning LLC

Rachel is an educator, speaker, consultant, and author of three books including “Establishing a Nature-Based Preschool” and “Preschool Beyond Walls: Blending Early Childhood Education” and “Nature-Based Learning”. Her passion and expertise is intentional integration of nature into early childhood education for young children’s whole development.

Prior to establishing Samara Early Learning, Rachel founded one of the nation’s earliest nature-based preschools at Chippewa Nature Center (CNC) in Midland, MI. The creation of the preschool in 2007 was part of her 15-year tenure as the Director of Education. She continued as the director of the program until 2016 when, at her departure, the program served 140 children each year through public and private funding sources. In her tenure at CNC she also co-chaired the Nature Center’s $6 million capital expansion project, which was completed in 2010. The expansion included an approximately 5,000 square foot LEED Gold Certified preschool building. During her time at CNC, Rachel led the creation of a partnership with Bullock Creek Schools to create a nature-based kindergarten and first grade within the public school system.

Rachel earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University’s Department of Teacher Education; a M.A. in Park and Recreation Administration from Central Michigan University; and a B.S. in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism, with an emphasis in interpretation, from Colorado State University. Rachel has been recognized for her work by various organizations including the National Association for Interpretation Region 4’s in 2012 with the “Master Interpretive Manager” recognition; First State Bank’s “RUBY Award” in 2013 for professionals under the age of 40; and Exchange Magazine in 2015 with the “Promising Early Care and Education Leader” award.