Nature Play

About Wild Wonders

We are two teams of adventurous day homes who explore and play outdoors together daily. Our nature focus takes us throughout the Cochrane Ranche's beautiful and diverse landscape of rolling hills, grassland and bush, into the woods, wetlands and along the banks of Bighill Creek and down to the Bow River. We connect children to nature through play and hands-on exploration and we follow the Forest and Nature School of Canada ethos, a model of inquiry based, emergent and experiential learning approaches.

About Us

We discovered a shared passion for connecting the children in our care with nature, the value of child led play and meaningful, inquiry-based learning when we kept meeting on the paths and natural spaces in Cochrane with our respective teams of children in tow.

Jess Walker, Early Childhood Educator (ECE) operates an agency approved nature preschool. Sarah Marshall has been in the business of providing quality childcare in her agency approved nature play based dayhome for 17 years. We are neighbouring day homes in the community of Glenbow. In 2017 we started joining up to explore and play outdoors together.
We are so enthusiastic about collaborating, sharing knowledge, expertise, support, educational resources and materials that our joint exciting initiative, Wild Wonders came to be!

Our Mission

Our mission is to give children the opportunity to be nurtured in nature, to explore the wonders of the changing seasons and feel the natural rhythm of the world.

Our Core Values

  • Cultivating the growth of the whole child
  • Hands-on, messy experiences and child-initiated play fosters authentic early learning and is essential to development
  • Children are respected and listened to, encouraged and supported to foster resiliency, self sufficiency and growth in all areas of development as unique individuals
  • Children are supported and trusted to safely take healthy risks playing outdoors, learning to thoughtfully assess their own safety and skill, solve problems creatively, build confidence and have new experiences
  • Children are given freedom and time to follow their interests and direct their own learning
  • Supporting children on their journey towards stewardship for the planet

Our Vision

We envision a generation of confident, independent explorers with an essential connection to themselves, to their community, and our natural world.

Sarah Marshall, Co-founder

Jess Walker, Co-founder

I am a married mother of two phenomenal girls, ages 16 and 18. I grew up in Cochrane, capering around Cochrane Ranche and spent my preteen and teenage years living on a small farm just west of town. Much of my time was spent making my own fun outdoors; building forts, hiking and exploring and being creative. Many hours were also whiled away laying in the field with a good book, in the company of the horses, the birds and the insects, and a distant coyote - immersed in my natural surroundings. I developed an appreciation for the beauty of the foothills, it sparked an interest in local plant and wildlife and a love of the great outdoors.
When I’m not playing with our group of young adventurers, the Wild Wonders, I enjoy playing with my family in Kananaskis, pursuing my hobbies of hiking and learning photography.

I am inspired by the children’s sense of wonder and love of these magical places we visit each day, I see them becoming stewards of the natural world.

I am a horse riding, sport playing, photography loving, outdoorsy kind of girl. Growing up on an acreage South of Strathmore and my summers spent working on my families cattle ranch southwest of Cochrane, provided many opportunities to explore and test my abilities as I set out on this journey of life. Growing up I was always outside, back then I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have the freedom to explore. Today I see the importance of children being out in nature and how valuable each moment is because with each moment children are growing and developing into their very own self. I absolutely love what I do for a “job” it is truly my passion to be able to share my love of nature with today’s young children. I am constantly looking for new information to carry on my education on early childhood development; to ensure my program continues to grow as I do, to guarantee I am using best practices. When I am not with the Wild Wonders Team or planning activities for our team you can find me out exploring, whether it’s on my kayak, fishing or camping out in the bush my happy place is out in the wild wilderness.

Land Acknowledgement

Wild Wonders recognizes First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples of Canada as traditional stewards of the land. The land we live, work, play and learn on is located within Treaty 7 territory, traditional territories and home of the Stoney Nakoda, Blackfoot and Tsuut’ina Nations, as well as Zone 3 Metis.