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Ellis Hollow Nature School

The Ellis Hollow Nature School (EHNS) provides a loving atmosphere for children ages 3 through 6 to grow and learn. Classes are held Monday through Friday from 8:45am-11:45am at the Ellis Hollow Community Center grounds, convenient to many in and around the Ithaca area.  Our school offers affordable tuition on a sliding scale with 3, 4 and 5-day options.  We are truly a community of families, who value diversity, learning from each other with empathy and ingenuity, and strive to create flexibility to meet the needs of our EHNS families.  Parents may choose days of attendance for the year if enrolling for 3 or 4-days, drop-ins are welcome on days not enrolled with just 24 hour’s notice, rain pants are provided to help with supplying outdoor gear, and more!


We believe children learn best through PLAY and that children need significant time in outdoor spaces to explore and integrate their skills. Our program takes inspiration from Reggio Emilia and Jean Piaget, allowing children to build their skills in a student-centered process, following their individual interests and passions. 


Our school program is unique as we have two co-lead teachers who have taught together for over 10 years.  Together, our teachers provide an outstanding preschool learning environment with open-ended lessons, creating experiments and exploration opportunities to help enable the children to learn, grow, and develop.  Our school believes the best way to do this is through patience, understanding, enthusiasm, compassion and humor with a goal to make preschool a wonderful time for all as we build the foundation rocks of a child’s education.


We invite you to learn more about our school at, on our Facebook page,, or writing us at  

School History

The school was founded as the Ellis Hollow Nursery School in the fall of 1953 as a co-operative organized by parents in the Ellis Hollow community.  The school opened with one teacher and 15 children aged three to four-years-old.  Tuition was set at $5 per child each month and school was open three days a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.  Over time the school hired a second teacher and tuition gradually increased.  


In 1971, the nursery school expanded to five days a week with two sessions: 18 four-year-olds attended Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and 16 three-year-olds attended Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  


Ellis Hollow Nursery School became Ellis Hollow Nature School in 2020 as the school adapted to the changing times with the COVID pandemic.  EHNS always loved exploring and appreciating the outdoors, spending time in the elements with the children, and making use of the incredible natural environment available at the community center.  Things were already in motion for the program to spend even more time outdoors with Wild Weather Wednesday’s pilot program starting in 2019, where each Wednesday school was held entirely outside.  In 2020 the school transitioned to a full-time nature school and has been enjoying an outdoor focused program since!

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