Welcome to our nest

Birdsong Play Garden

A year-round outdoor play-based preschool for 18mo – 4yo 
located in west Davis.  

Mondays – Fridays 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM.

Part-time and full-time openings for Fall 2022!
Email us at info@birdsongplaygarden.com for more information and to schedule a tour.

Greet the Morning

Circle time with formed movement and songs

Arts and Culture

Storytelling, puppetry, and music

Outdoor Adventure

Nature exploration and observation

Afternoon Rest

Fallow time for body and soul

Imaginative Play

Free and unstructured creativity

Living in Rhythm

Celebrating the seasons and festivals

Bird's Eye View

Our shared study of Waldorf education is the foundation of Birdsong Play Garden. We impart the children’s days with rhythm, beauty, and wonder in order to cultivate these qualities within each of them. Additionally, Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) largely informs our work, as we patiently support the young child’s developing emotional life. We are eager to explore other approaches as we tend to the blossoming of those in our care. We also cultivate a culture of learning with the parents we work with, as ultimately, you are your child’s first teacher. Through shared efforts at home and school, we can weave a supportive nest in which the young child can thrive.

As our name suggests, we are a play-based program. This includes ample time outdoors, both in our backyard and in the adjacent wild spaces and greenbelt. This immersion in the elements contributes to the child’s social and sensory development through play. These efforts help to lay a foundation for the healthy embodiment of the young child.

Our Song

Between us we have over thirty years of experience working with children and in education. We have both worked with a wide age range, including individuals with special needs. We initially met in 2013 on a diversified biodynamic farm in upstate New York when Steve brought his 4th grade class on an educational overnight program which Johanna was facilitating. For years we worked separately in education and childcare while providing consultation and support to one another. Since opening Birdsong Play Garden in July 2021, we have been thrilled to work together, marrying our strengths to develop a loving nest in which your little songbirds can thrive.

Johanna Brannon

Prior to founding Birdsong Play Garden, Johanna nannied young children using Waldorf wisdom for five years and before that led experiential education on farms in Arkansas, South Dakota, and New York. She earned an associate’s degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Sacramento City College and is training to become an anthroposophic nurse. She believes that abundant time in nature is fundamental to young children’s development into healthy adults. In her free time Johanna loves birding, climbing trees, and embroidering.

Steve Brannon

Steve is a preschool, elementary, and middle school teacher who has been working in AWSNA accredited Waldorf schools since 2003. He earned his undergraduate degree from Goddard College and is a graduate of the West Coast Institute’s Waldorf teacher training in Vancouver, B.C. Steve is also a graduate of the year-long visual arts intensive at Free Columbia painting school in the Hudson Valley. Most recently he graduated the Davis Waldorf School 8th grade class of 2019, having been their lead teacher since 5th grade

Our Nest

Warm and Cozy inside

Backyard Fun


Water Play


our garden gate Leads to the greenbelt

Cheerful Chirps

I feel so lucky to have found Birdsong Play Garden. If I had dreamed up a program for my kid, it would look like theirs: outdoor play (rain or shine), lots of songs and exploration, big nap, healthy snacks. Jo and Steve bring exceptional thought to a program that supports each individual child while honoring the healthy dynamics of the group. No small task! And it’s one to which they bring loads of patience, intelligence, and good humor. I’m continually impressed with the creativity and attunement they bring to the subtle (and not so subtle) emotional experience of the kids. Jo and Steve have created a warm and welcoming community of families, and we feel lucky to count ourselves among them.
Sarah McColl
My family counts the day we met Johanna as one of the best and most serendipitous of our lives! For two-and-a-half wonderful years, she nurtured our twins, Seamus and Louise, from their first steps and words all the way through potty training and the start of preschool. And what wonderful children they became under her care! Each of those many marvelous days was filled with song, laughter, stories, magic, and wonder! Johanna possesses a true gift for this work—she lovingly guides children (and their parents!) as they become what they are called to be. I wish we could stop time entirely and live forever in those beautiful days!
Brendan White
I have known Johanna since she was 13 and began helping out with my three young children, two of whom have Down syndrome. Johanna was always responsible, quick on her feet with problem solving, and showed great initiative in navigating the different learning styles of my three children. She was a joy to work with and quickly became a valued member of our family support team for several years.
Peggy Mace
We had the privilege of Johanna caring for our two children, one and four years old. She is loving, thoughtful and creative in her approach. We deeply appreciate the way she structures the children’s days with rhythm, intentional communication, song and time in nature. She provides keen and generous insights into ways of enriching both the lives of the children she cares for, as well as their parents. Our children benefited greatly from her care and we definitely learned from her as well.
Marita Madeloni
I just wanted to say that Steve was my son’s teacher for several years. I’m happy to recommend Johanna and Steve for taking care of your children. They are good, nice dependable people!
Dan Ng
Steve and Johanna are wonderful people. Mr. Brannon taught my son in Waldorf middle school and is articulate, bright, full of energy, and an inspiration to his students. Johanna is a thoughtful and kind person who connects naturally with children.
Diana Cuomo
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