Dressing for Success: Tiny Trees Preschool Style

By Erin Soper, Director of Education and Operations

In less than five months, outdoor classrooms at Camp Long, Carkeek, John C Little and Jefferson Parks will be buzzing with inquisitive and active three, four and five year olds. Each child will be equipped with a once piece rain suit and boots—yes, the perfect way to say “Welcome to Tiny Trees Preschool.” While the rain gear will work to keep your child dry, it’s the clothing underneath that will ensure warmth.

Outdoor discovery requires freedom of movement in non-restrictive clothing. Clothing should be kept simple, comfortable and washable. When weather is variable, rainy or downright cold, layering clothing is key. The standard advice is to wear three layers: a base layer to stay dry, a mid-layer to keep warm and an outer layer to retain heat and protect against rain, wind and snow. The rain suit will be the outer layer, roomy enough for sweatshirts, coats and other layers to be worn underneath.

Additionally, students need comfortable, protective shoes with gripping soles for running, climbing and jumping. The provided insulated rain boots will be appropriate nearly every day. On warmer days (like the three days of summer we enjoyed this week!), sneakers or sandals with closed toes and heel straps are appropriate. Flip flops are not acceptable footwear for trails and are considered a safety hazard.

Our recommendations for clothing beyond the basics:

  • Wool or fleece socks (2 pairs will last all year and will be worn in every season)
  • Long underwear (aka long johns or thermal underwear), wool, silk, or synthetic, non-cotton
  • Waterproof mittens (not just for snow, they are great for keeping hands warm! Mittens with side zippers or that go over the jacket sleeve are awesome!)
  • Scarf/neck cover
  • Winter hat (covers the ears)
  • Fleece jacket or wool sweater
  • Winter coat
  • Snow pants (optional, but a great source of warmth under the rain suit on cold days)
  • Sun hat (optional)

And remember, all of this is going under our stylish (and free) rain suits so fashion, brand and price makes no difference. After a year of use this clothing will be pretty worn out so we recommend rocking the thrift shop, finding used clothing or hitting up friends for hand-me-downs.

Here's an example from the Secret Forest Preschool in Duluth, MN. They use oakiwear rainsuits over layers that change to fit the season.

Here’s an example from the Secret Forest Playschool in Duluth, MN. They use Oakiwear rain suits over layers that change to fit the season.

With summer approaching, it’s a great time to start looking for sales and bargains. My favorite resources are:

If you like to search online for deals:

child in snow outdoors

An example from Norway, north of arctic circle (and birthplace of outdoor preschool). Notice the rain suit over not too bulky layers plus a warm hat and mittens.

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