New day care opens in rural Detroit Lakes

Outdoor preschool planned for 2023

Kimberly Goetsch-Oien recently opened Mason Jar Meadows day care in rural Detroit Lakes. <br/><br/>
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES – After a decade of teaching kindergarten at a private school, Kimberly Goetsch-Oien decided to open a day care. By 2023 she wants to add a preschool option.

“The students who attend my day care will have preference for enrollment in the 2023 Fall Forest School Program,” she said.

The day care program is open to kids at least 1 year old. She explained that attendees will engage in educational activities with a gentle hand guiding their learning. They will also enjoy outdoor time and meals (breakfast, lunch and a snack).

The idea to offer learning opportunities for area residents came about while she was teaching at Holy Rosary Catholic School in Detroit Lakes. She observed that some students weren’t able to focus indoors, but had laser focus outdoors.

“The same kids you couldn’t trust with scissors inside, you could trust with a shovel outside,” she said.


Mason Jar Meadows Forest School will focus on outside learning, even in the winter. When temperatures are unsafe, the classes will be moved indoors.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Goetsch-Oien, who grew up in rural South Dakota on a grain farm, now lives on about 30 acres with her husband Randy (who is a 2000 Detroit Lakes High School graduate). On their property, she has created ample learning areas for the day care and future preschool. While walking on a path a short distance from her house, she pointed out a kitchen area that specializes in mud pies, stuffed animals hanging around for story time, a garden where little learners are able to plant, care for and harvest produce and tents for naps.

She noted simple lessons, like having kids find an object that is a certain color can be more fun outside. Instead of pointing to a wall that has the color on it, a child might walk to a tree, which also uses gross motor skills, or pick up a leaf, using fine motor skills.

The outdoor classroom includes several learning areas where kids gain knowledge through hands-on projects.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

While the outdoor learning areas are being tested by day care kids, they will be refined for the 2023 preschool opening. Goetsch-Oien added the preschool will be held primarily outdoors. She added, the outdoor concept is not as unique as it may sound, as there are dozens offered throughout the state.

Goetsch-Oien hoped to start the preschool this year, but the timing didn’t work out. So, she is starting with day care, and fine-tuning her curriculum and activities for the preschool’s opening next year. The preschool will accept students ages 3½ to 5½ years of age.

For more information about the day care or preschool, visit

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