Early Birds Preschool

INA Pedagogy

My Educational Vision:

Nature is not a luxury. Rather, it is essential, not only for our physical health, but for our emotional and psychological well-being.

For our children, then, it is crucial we provide them with ample outdoor experiences, where they will not only gain real life experience, but develop the skills they need to be happy, healthy and successful adults in the twenty-first century.

A new and growing trend in many schools is to keep children indoors in hygienic classrooms, shielded from environments that could make them sick. Unfortunately, it is exactly this overdose of sterility that weakens children’s immune systems and results in an increase of illness. Moreover, this indoor trend leads to a host of behavioural and developmental issues.

Outdoor education, on the other hand, fosters both a child’s physical and social development. Through outdoor projects, children experience complete sensory integration in harmony with nature, without overstimulation. They notice the changes in temperature as the seasons change, and even more subtle things such as how at different times of day, the temperature changes. Animal sounds (birdsong, the buzzing of bees) and the sounds of the forest, of the weather (wind, rain), will strengthen children’s auditory senses, encouraging the development of accurate and intensive listening skills. This in turn promotes concentration and phonemic awareness, essential for later literacy. Being in nature also relaxes and soothes children, and as they start to make connections between what they feel and the natural world, they will cultivate a lifelong awareness of self and a love of nature.

My own unforgettable and wonderful childhood was spent on a farm. The woodland was my second home. What better learning environment could there be?

Regina Kruse-Özçelik

Consulting & Workshops

Web Application for parents and educators: "I Can...!"

Do you ever wonder whether you are doing enough to encourage your child’s development? Whether his teachers at preschool are stimulating him enough? Do you worry you might be holding her back from age-appropriate milestones? Are you afraid he is too dependent on you?

Our “I Can …!” application allows parents and educators of preschool and kindergarten-age children to identify age-appropriate development goals, and keep track of whether children are currently progressing towards them (“I am learning”) or have already achieved them (“I can!”). Additionally, this application allows parents to identify and communicate about quality child care and education. Available in Turkish, English and German, this program is easy and fun to use, while also extremely informative.

Cross-curricular Outdoor Education through Project Based Learning:

  • Playground design with children
  • Adobe & straw bale house building
  • Earthen oven building
  • School vegetable garden
  • Mud workshop
  • Clay workshop

Children design their environment

Cross-Curricular Classroom Project

March - June 2018

“We are designing our Classroom!”

Play and learn with INA-PEDAGOGY

For many adults, a forest is just another part of the environment, taken for granted. But for children, the woods are a place of adventure, of possibility. In nature, children can develop freely and discover their personalities. With the guidance of adults, they can create their own games and develop their own learning style; they can use their imagination and expand their creativity. [...]

Cross-Curriculum Workshops for Educators

Cross-curricular units of study such as the ‘’Straw Bale Garden’’, provide rich and deep learning opportunities for every single child through each of the six developmental areas below. Children come together and connect over a topic or project, thus developing their team work skills. [...]

The Straw Bale Garden

A practical guide...

Building an Adobe House with Preschool children

A practical guide...

Before you buy any kind of clay or clay soil, please investigate with the children what kind of soil you have available to you in your school’s garden. Conduct a ‘soil test’ by mixing some soil with water in a jar. Within a few minutes you will be able to see what your soil contains. [...]

Building an Earthen Oven at IICS

A step by step tutorial...

The individual activities that comprise the lesson plan are described below. This project can be done by one class or by several classes in cooperation with one another. [...]

How to Use Clay with Children

Children love working with their hands, and there's no better way to fight boredom than with clay. Children can knead it, divide it, form small figures – and they can break it and start again! This is an easy way to train their fine motor skills. [...]

Workshop for Educators: Building an Earth Oven

A narrative by Perin Ozant

This Sunday, on the 8th of May, I had the opportunity to experience a very refreshing workshop called "Workshop for educators: Building an Earth Oven" conducted by Regina Kruse Ozcelik, the educational coordinator of the Small Hands Academy in Rumelihisari. [...]

Straw Bale Gardening Workshop

A narrative by Aynur Gül Şahin...

I am Aynur Gül Şahin. I have studied "Preschool Education" at Boğaziçi University. On the 6th of March, I participated in the outdoor workshop about Straw Bale Gardening. Regina Kruse Özçelik who is a nature-education pedagogue organized the workshop and showed us the way doing outdoor education with children. She is the organizer and coordinator of the workshop and at the same time she is educator in the kindergarten which has applied outdoor education. [...]


Portrait Regina Kruse Özçelik

Regina Kruse-Özçelik

I was born in North Germany in 1964 and grew up on a huge farm, surrounded by fields and forest.

After completing my teacher training, I worked in Germany and Greece before coming to Istanbul in 1990. My Turkish teaching career began with my own kindergarten, “Villa Kunterbunt,” in 1995. I later joined “Küçük Eller 3” as a partner and started overseeing the Rumelihisarı Campus in 1999. Since then I have implemented and maintained high educational standards, a child-centered philosophy, and coordinated all aspects of the Rumelihisarı preschool, from hiring and training faculty to consulting with parents to running the school’s lojistic operations.

Cross-curriculum projects have been an integral part of my educational philosophy, and I have coordinated several for Ütopya Primary and Secondary School, most notably the School Vegetable Garden and the Earthen Oven Projects.

The six International Educational Congresses I planned and coordinated with Küçük Eller and Ütopya Schools between 2002 and 2013 were likewise opportunities for me to share my educational philosophy with a wider audience, both as conference organizer and as a speaker.

The 2014 International Play Association Conference in Istanbul similarly allowed me to share my knowledge and experience of nature education through my workshop entitled “PLAY and LEARN in the FOREST: Education for Preschool Children.”

Since 2000, I have been training other educators on how to implement outdoor education programs. Based on the German “Forest Kindergarten” (Waldkindergarten), which has been successfully run for over fifty years in northern Europe, I implemented an outdoor program with the children at Rumelihisarı. For weeks we did all our learning in the garden, not using an indoor classroom once! The effect was amazing: calm, independent, creative, social children who were always motivated to learn and eager to invent new things.

What better preparation for school could there be? What better preparation for life?


Do not hesitate to contact me for any kind of inquiry!
Please use the contact form or my email address below: