This spring, a handful of families in Bismarck are meeting every week to learn in the greatest classroom of all. It's not in some fancy university, or state-of-the-art building. It's just right outside your door.
Tinkergarten is a new program in Bismarck within the last year, and it's already turning those tikes into trailblazers.
We explored in this Homegrown with Hope.
The children and their families gather in Pioneer Park along the Missouri River. In this learning environment, they're not students. They're explorers. Brianna Weisbeck is their leader.
"What parts of spring do we like the best?" she asks as the group marches through the grass, collecting leaves and sticks in their pails.
This is Tinkergarten, where kids 18 months to 5 years old come to begin their education of the world around them.
"We have basic utensils, like using some seed packets and using some sticks. They're basic things nature has to offer," she explains.
Parents participating in the class say it's only natural for their children to get excited about this kind of schooling.
"Ella really enjoyed it. We did some nature exploring, found some cool pieces, twigs. She got to dig in the sand, which is one of her favorite things," Courtney Fetzer, a parent, said of her first experience in the class.
This season, Brianna will teach about empathy for all living things in the world. Programs vary by season, and each one is modeled around a different theme.
"We really want to instill the love and development that nature can bring us. It's really great to be able to dig in with our hands and get our feet dirty," Brianna said.
Organizers say the seeds are only planted in Tinkergarten. The true growth happens at home, when the lessons are repeated and explored further with families.
"We spend a lot of time in our garden and a lot of time outside. This is perfect for us, because our kids love to dig and explore," Heather Hummert, another new parent to the program, said.
Tinkergarten holds a new program for every season but winter in Bismarck. If you want to try it out, you can start with a free trial class. For more information, check out https://www.tinkergarten.com/classes/58058.