Skip to content

Posts from the ‘About Leaping Lizards’ Category

Slow down, you move too fast….

“Slow down, you move too fast,

You’ve got to make the morning last…”

Children are the best teachers we can aspire to have in our lives.  They teach us patience by trying ours.  They teach us generosity by needing so much from us.  They teach us how to live in the moment, every moment we are with them, since being anywhere but the present moment is impossible with a small child.  They teach us how to play given that they are such experts at it and most us forgot long ago the importance of play for ourselves.  And they teach us to slow down.

Life seems to keep speeding up more and more.  Faster modes of travel, faster modes of communication, faster fast food, faster and faster we run till we seem to be running our spirits into the ground.  What is the antidote to all this fast -paced, noise-polluted, gotta-get-ahead syndrome that so many of us are living?

Go for a hike with your favorite small person.  Just like in that iconic Simon and Garfunkle song from which I borrow the title, slow down and move deliberately.  Let your child take the lead, stop when they stop, look under a log for some creepy crawlies, sit as often as you can and watch your child create an imaginary world around him/her.  And if you really want to see imagination in action, take several small kids to the woods and watch what they do together.  They create magic.  Let their delight transport you to a younger version of yourself.  Get dirty, play in the leaves, smell the fall air, delight in the joy that children so naturally are and let their present moment being  inspire you.

“You’ve got to make the morning last

Just kicking down the cobblestones.

Looking for fun and feeling groovy.”

59th Street Bridge Song–


Falling into autumn…..

Today is warm and mild.  The leaves on the sweet gum trees at Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve are golden, red and orange.  Today we hiked up Blue Oak Trail on our adventure.  The kids enjoyed meeting dogs as we hiked up the trail.  Most of the dog owners are happy to share the trail with a gaggle of kids.  The couple today let us pet their trained but “career-changed” seeing eye dog!  Who knew seeing eye dogs could change careers?

On the way up the hill ( the hike is all uphill going out and all downhill on the return leg), we encountered a dead mole.  Yup, a dead mole.  It was fuzzy and small and dark gray and dead.  “Why is it dead, teacher?” they ask.  “Well, it could have been old and then died.  All things die eventually.  Or maybe it got sick from a mole disease.  Or maybe it didn’t find enough to eat.”  This is how it goes on some hikes.  Lots of questions, lots of curiosity.  And that is how it works best.

Further up the trail, we saw a dead tree.  Yup, a dead tree.  Uh-huh, trees die eventually as well.  Roaming around outside in natural settings gives children the time and opportunity to observe life in all its forms  sprouting and  growing,  aging and dying.  We talk about the circle of life so the kids, as well as  the grown ups, can be reminded of how natural it is to be  born and to die and how important it is to be alive while we are here.

“Hey kids, isn’t it great to be out here running around and playing?”  “Yes, yes, yes!!” they all sing back.

May we all enjoy the spring, summer, fall and winter of life.

Leap on!!


About this blog……….

I didn’t formally introduce myself on the first blog post.  I am the founder, director and lead teacher at Leaping Lizards Nature Awareness Preschool.  I’ve been teaching in this field for nearly 23 years.  My hope for this blog is to inspire parents, grandparents and any other person who shares time with young children to go take a hike and enjoy connecting with nature.  The only thing there is to know is where to go.  The rest is easy!  Points to remember while hiking with young children:

1) Hike at their pace.  Stop often. Turn logs over to see who lives underneath but be sure to put the log back just as you found it.  If you don’t feel comfortable catching and holding what might be living there, just observe.

2) Take a snack including water and be prepared for the weather by dressing yourself and your little one(s) in layered clothing.  Don’t forget your wide-brimmed sun hat  (one per person) and sunscreen.

3) Notice, notice, notice.  It doesn’t matter so much if you know the names of trees  or crittters or anything really.   It is feeling nature that counts.  Also, kids will enjoy the experience more if, along the way, you can get silly and play with them while on your outing and not make it about covering a long distance or “learning” something.  They will be learning to enjoy, be curious aand care about the natural world just by being out there with you.

4) Invite another family to go with you if you like.  Sometimes when kids have other non-related kids  to adventure with it can make it more appealing.  Try not to let yourself get too absorbed by your own adult chit chat though.  Make this time about escaping from cell phones, to-do lists, traffic, lines at stores, laundry, bad news, etc.  and about connecting with your kids, yourself and Mother Nature.   Notice the quiet, the smells, the textures , the harmony of where you are.  And of course, have fun!

The Leaping Lizards Philosophy

“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”

– Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

Read more about the Leaping Lizards philosophy.

Leaping Lizards Testimonials & Press

Over the years, parents and children alike have learned from their time in Leaping Lizards.  These are a few testimonials of their experiences.

Words from Former Students

This essay was written by a former Leaping Lizards student for her 7th grade public speaking class.  She decided to write about Leaping Lizards and the impact it had on her.


Sometimes when you feel really small, you don’t think you can make a difference for the people that matter to you. Magdalena never made me feel small, even at four years old- she never made anyone feel small. Right before kindergarten, I wrote a song. It was for her, my preschool teacher at leaping lizards.  When I sang it to her, she sat there crying, and she hugged me. I wondered why she was crying; she wasn’t sad. I learned she was crying out of happiness. Magdalena showed me tears of joy.  She found happiness from paint stains on pint-sized chairs, kissing banana slugs, and me. When someone is so great to me, I feel like I should be able to make them happy too. It is a wonderful feeling when I can. I was amazed that I could make someone so happy with one little poem, and promised myself to do it again.

Magdalena was generous, caring, fun-loving and a nature enthusiast. Every day we used to meet in that woman’s own garage to color and paint.  She had a beautiful garden. I remember Magdalena was good at crafts. Sometime she played guitar and we all sang along. She took us on hikes in the woods, showed us how to paint our faces with rocks, and how to eat fruit without wasting anything. We never hiked too far for our little feet, and always stopped somewhere fun, like a river, a pond, or a clearing. She even taught us how to use a hammer and nails, so we could make pencil holders for mother’s day. One day she showed us a log fort.  We had loads of fun with that.

She led by example, and I am still following. In seventh grade, I always eat my apples right down to the core and watermelon into the rind. I love painting with watercolors and acrylic paints, and doing all kinds of 3D art as well. I don’t play guitar, but have taken up the violin. Many places we went around the bay area I still visit with my family today.  I hike a lot, and have accomplished ten miles in a day with M&Ms. I am also a beginning backpacker- someday I hope to go backpacking through the wilderness of Alaska. I still write poetry and build forts. I try to make people happy and be kind. I know that I can mean so much to those who matter most to me. Sometimes I even cry tears of joy.

These poems were written by a 7 year old former student and dedicated to Leaping Lizards.

Hello Forest

Hello forest I’ve come again
to see the wonders you have to share today
I’ve come to play
in your leaves and your streams
I’ve come to follow your never ending paths
You live!
I run down a river and
I happen to see a chestnut
rolling to me. I pick it up
It is brown and very smooth
I look up and to my right I see pile of them
as if welcoming me
I feel the breeze hit against my cheek
I smell the redwoods’ leaves
and think how wonderful it is to be here

My Heart Soars

In the darkness of the moonlight of nature,
the beauty of the trees and the softness of the sky,
the fragrance of some pinecones speak to me.
In the morning I feel the strength of the sunlight
the taste of berries
the trail of lightning
And the life that never goes away
They speak to me and my heart soars

Words from Parents

Visit our Parent Testimonial page to read what parents of current and former students say about the program.

Leaping Lizards Reviews

See reviews of Leaping Lizards on Yelp:

See reviews on Google’s place page:

In The Press

Gentry Magazine, November 2011
My Life: My Words – Magdalena Cabrera, Founder of Leaping Lizards Nature Awareness Preschool
As told to Jessica Goldman

(click image for full size)

Eucalyptus, December 2009

More Schools Inspired By Nature
written by Jennifer Moscatello

(click image for full size)