Kickapoo Valley Forest School

KVFS is a tuition free public school.

No student shall be required to attend the Kickapoo Valley Forest School. Students may leave at any time. KVFS is part of the La Farge School District.


The Kickapoo Valley Forest School (KVFS) honors full nature immersion, child-centered practices and environmental stewardship. 


Responsibility: We have a responsibility to treat all children with respect. We will allow children the time to engage with academic, social, emotional and life skills through immersion in the natural world. 

Respect: We will respect each other, the environment and all living beings. 

Relationships: We will connect with our sense of place through the relationships we foster with the community and the land. 

Real-work: We understand that play and exploration in a rich environment is the true work of the child.

Recognize: We recognize that children are individuals whose interests, capacities and gifts demand differentiation in instruction and care. 

hiking down a trail

Key Tenets of KVFS model are: 

  1. Daily nature immersion through play to increase emotional awareness, develop spatial awareness, support large and fine motor development, and provide rich experiences with literacy, math, science and social studies concepts 

  2. Collaboration with community partners that expand connections to the region including sourcing local food, integrating art and music from local artisans, and connecting with local businesses who are dependent on the region

  3. Teachers serve as mentors to facilitate individual academic skill development within rich and varied play in the natural world.

Foundational Principles of KVFS: 

  • Nature as Teacher

  • Inquiry leads to interdisciplinary fields of study

  • Community within our classroom helps strengthen relationships with our Community as a whole

Key features of the KVFS model are:

  • All-weather nature immersion

  • Child-led learning with a scope and sequence based on the seasonal changes and scaffolding academic skills that coincide with each other;

  • Daily schedule that provides much time for outdoor exploration

  • Inquiry-based exploration through play that expands on key, developmentally appropriate concepts

  • Child-inspired, child-directed documentation of gained skills and concepts that guide the teacher in scaffolding next learning challenge

  • Place-based education with the Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability at its Core.

Fall Image

The Kickapoo Valley Forest School (KVFS) will strive to create a child-centered, safe, inclusive, and sensory-rich environment in which children will learn and grow through play and exploration in the beautiful natural environment of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve (KVR).

Our school day will be held by predictable routines and expectations with substantial time built into the schedule for child-directed play, work and exploration. Our education philosophy is rooted in belief that child development is at its best when the whole child is honored, and that ‘play’ in a rich environment is the true work of the child.

To this end our curriculum is designed to meet the mental, physical, intellectual, social, and emotional needs of the young child. We also recognize that children are individuals whose interests, capacities and gifts demand that our teaching style and environment be accessible from many different points and levels of ability. Additionally, as humans we thrive in environments full of love, inspiration, wonder, connection and beauty.

The richly diverse environment of KVR is the perfect setting for our warm, loving community to grow in healthy connection to each other, in loving connection to the land, and with all the living beings of the Kickapoo Valley. 

orange logo

Wondering why we chose a snail for our logo?

The KVFS snail represents so many interesting and important things for our Forest School. The snail reminds us to sloooow down, use our senses, observe things closely - just like children do. The snail carries with it all that it needs to survive comfortably in any environment and in an all-weather-nature-immersion school, we’ll often be just like that snail! The lines on the snail's shell are representative of the Fibonacci Sequence (a wonderful representation of math in nature) and the cycle of the seasons, and they are also reminiscent of the pages of a book. In our Forest School we’ll always look to nature to help us understand the world around us. Lastly, snails are residents of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, and now our new school is as well!