About Ready Set Go Outside

Ready Set Go Outside offers child centered programs for ages 2 to 13 in outdoor settings where children can safely explore with their senses, sing, read, build, practice mindfulness, write, dig, socialize, garden, exercise, relax, play with water, create, carve, and sculpt.

Hours of Operation:  Monday- Friday except holiday closings

Summer Camp

8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

School Year

Preschool Sessions

8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
8:00 AM to 12:00 PM
12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Homeschool Support
Non Public School Days (RSU5)
After School Session

8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
3:30 to 5:00 PM


How will children learn LITERACY? Children will learn letter/word recognition, letter-sound recognition, story sequencing, letter writing, vocabulary/language through story telling, reading story books, songs around the campfire, writing in journals, following directions, art, and more.
How will children learn MATHEMATICS? Children will learn number recognition, patterns, spatial awareness, measuring, organizing and sequencing through music, drumming, building, reading books, story telling, songs, arts, scientific observations, etc. We will use nature’s tools as well as some Montessori aids with the guidance of Wild Math curriculum.
How will children learn SCIENCE? Children will learn through sensory exploration in natural settings, observation of living versus nonliving things, studying animal behavior, experimenting with natural elements, problem solving, gardening, and using tools (nets, microscopes, magnifiers, eye droppers, scales, measuring tools, digital technology, binoculars).
How will children learn SOCIAL STUDIES/SKILLS? Children will learn time concepts and seasons through observing the position of the sun, moon and stars. Social skills will develop through sharing tools, problem solving, cooperative activities, community service (e.g., recycling) and more. Children will learn map skills and navigating their neighborhood through orienteering activities. We can begin to explore democratic organization by involving children in teamwork and voting. Children will be integral in designing and building our outdoor classroom. Resilience and risk-taking skills naturally develop in outdoor settings when children climb trees and rocks, splash in puddles, gather materials and build a structure, slide down a sand pile or snowy hill, and use tools like saws and hammers.
ART will be integrated through campfire and marching songs, drum circles, flute playing, rhythm instruments, drama through storytelling, natural crafts, silly dances, and other movement activities.
MOTOR SKILLS will develop through exploring different terrain and elements, climbing, writing, using tools (sawing, whittling, knot tying, etc.), building, digging, swinging, sliding, sledding, etc.

Philosophy and Goals

muddy girl in the rain

Children are designed to learn best through play.  Our world begins small consisting of ourselves and our caregivers.  As our brain grows, our learning grows, and our world grows larger.  The best settings allow for children to safely explore the world immediately around them so that they can learn to manage risks, and gain skills and experience. This is important to their physical development, brain development, and social/emotional development. We all learn better when we are interested and involved.  Hands on/experiential activities that are created through child interest are the most lasting educational tools.  Learning through play is the most effective technique to creating lifelong learners.  Ready Set Go Outside strives to provide open ended settings for children to learn about their immediate environment to build awareness and self esteem without the distractions of modern technology.

Ready Set Go Outside will offer children an opportunity to create their own learning environment.  Children will explore areas in their community through hiking, writing, reading, ponding, tidepooling, building, listening, singing, observing, digging, creating and socializing.  The tools used to enhance learning activities will be found in the forest or reused and recycled from the community.  Teachers will facilitate child led learning experiences where children are free to be who they are.  No lining up.  No testing.  No electronics. No ads… just exploration of the natural world where teachers observe, advise on safety and offer knowledge of natural habitats.  Children hardly need any guidance in learning as they are natural learners.  Teachers will observe skills and growth and provide evidence of learning.

The main goals will be to guide children in:

  • creating a strong sense of self
  • developing independent learning skills
  • cultivating enthusiasm and curiosity through sensory experiences
  • building skills to handle challenging situations
  • becoming socially confident in an unstructured setting
  • exploring ways to become helpful members of community
  • emotional regulation and happiness
girls crossing river on downed tree

Spending time outside is important for health. Our biology requires sunshine to make Vitamin D which is important for physical health and helps improve our mood. Children who play outside are more likely to get cardiovascular exercise which is key to physical and mental wellbeing. It greatly decreases the likelihood of developing heart disease and diabetes while strengthening bone health.

Children need time in unstructured settings to learn skills for navigating social situations as well as spending time alone to reset and reflect.  Children who spend all day in school, then daycare, then home for dinner will not gain independent skills effectively.  “Forest bathing” has proven to increase immune system response as well as decrease anxiety and depression which are becoming prevalent in young generations.

preschool girl laying in sand

Changing seasons and weather provide new challenges that aid in brain growth. Children naturally use cognitive thinking skills during outdoor play while increasing their creativity and imagination from the open-ended possibilities.  Spending more time outside improves attention spans and reduces stress.

Being outside in winter presents a different type of group setting where germs are not as easily passed along. There isn’t a need for sanitizing the play area the way there is in a classroom. Children are exposed to fresh cold air which improves their immune function.  Wide open spaces decrease germ sharing as opposed to the increased exposure in indoor environments in the winter where bacteria and viruses are more likely to grow as windows and doors stay closed for the season.

snowy path and sun through trees

Exposure to gardening increases children’s knowledge about healthy foods and encourages tasting new flavors. Children are much more likely to eat a food they picked themselves.  Fresh garden fruits and vegetables have more flavor than store bought produce which increases the likelihood of children enjoying healthy foods. Another benefit is developing a sense of responsibility. If plants do not get the basic requirements, then they do not thrive or even survive. Children learn there is a relationship between their actions and the outcomes of growing food.

Mixed age groups facilitate more social learning. Children learn kindness, cooperation and responsibility when grouped with younger and older children. They increase their capacity for empathy and consideration when navigating relationships with children of various ages. They are motivated by the skills they see being used by children who have mastered them which in turn motivates them to become teachers or helpers to children who have not mastered the skills that they currently have. Teachers will observe children trying new roles and coping skills as the younger, middle or older child in a group setting.

Please read about our other policies and supplies needed
preschool children gardening

Meet the Founder

marisa tobey owner and director of ready set go outsideMarisa Tobey (Owner/Director) graduated from University of Maine at Machias with a degree in Environmental Education and a passion for working with children outdoors.  She has worked for several environmental camps such as Nature’s Classroom and Massachusetts Audubon Society.  She expanded her love of teaching natural science while working for Cape Cod Discovery Museum and Green Briar Nature Center leading programs for children and teachers, attending courses in education and recreation, and networking with Massachusetts environmentalists.  Marisa returned to Maine in 2001 and put her skills to work in the early childhood field at a large daycare center where she implemented a recycling program and science enrichment activities for 4 of the centers in the company.  In 2006 Marisa started her own small, eco-friendly center in Freeport and enjoyed raising her children with other like-minded families.

She is passionate about the environment and spending time in natural settings for awareness and wellness.  Her natural science background includes studies in ornithology, marine biology, plant identification, wetland ecology, mycology, edible plants, gardening, composting, herpetology, environmental science and entomology. Her early childhood background consists of over 20 years of experience working directly with children, educational psychology and child care courses.  She has completed the Maine Guide Course at LL Bean and canoeing instructor training at Zoar Outdoor.

marisa tobey teaching children about horseshoe crabs
“Our son loved outdoor learning and all the amazing hands-on experience Marisa created for the group. The kids weren’t rushed through lesson after lesson. They had time to figure things out and truly understand… This year our son went back to public school and to my surprise he was at or above where he needed to be starting Middle school… I am so happy for him and could not be happier with his experience at RSG….I know our son is better off today.”
Jennifer Elgaaen
“I love this school because you don’t have to wear a mask and you don’t have to sit down all day and you get fresh air and you get to skate and in the summer, you can go swimming in a pond and you have fun and we have a big cabin. Will you please come.”
Wyatt Jackson (6)
“Ready Set Go has been amazing for our outdoorsy, adventurous and dirt loving kiddo. The owner Marisa and her wonderful staff are caring, energetic and passionate people who create wonderful experiences and memories every day. We couldn’t think of a better place for our son and we would recommend Ready, Set, Go! to anyone who has an outdoor, adventure loving kiddo!“
Shay Murphy
“My children attended Ready, Set, Go! and LOVED it! My kids knew that they were loved and in a nurturing environment where they were encouraged to be kids. Their days were filled with play that was developmentally appropriate and that sparked their interest and creativity.”
Kari Crosman
“Both my kids went to Ready, Set, Go Learning Center for their preschool years. The environment is great for learning, creativity, and positive social experiences. The staff were so kind, loving, and fun. I really appreciated the connection to the natural environment, field trips, and many opportunities for play. I would highly recommend sending your children here!”
Elizabeth Cyr
“My daughter attended Ready, Set Go Learning Center to compliment her half day Pre-k experience for school. Her love for the outdoors has blossomed along with her confidence, creativity and inquisitive nature. The programming, staff and opportunities afforded by this program are beyond our wildest dreams.”
Jillian Merrill
“My children love this program. Marisa is so inclusive and so good with creating fun and memorable experiences for the kids. I would highly recommend this for kids who love to be outdoors learning!”
Kate Sansom
“This was absolutely the greatest experience ever. The teachers and the owner are amazing, informative and loving. They always communicate and are transparent about everything. This childcare is a MUST try. ❤️”
Majlinda Mulla
“Fantastic opportunity for experiential, outdoor education for students! If you have a child who loves the outdoors, this is a great opportunity for them to learn and be active in nature.”
“Highly recommend Ready, Set, Go! My kids have been attending for a little over a year now and love it! Marisa and staff allow the kids to learn and experiment on their own and with some guidance. The kids come home with smiles on their faces from experiences that are not only fun, but educational. 10/10 in my book!”
Autumn Hawkes