About the Business

TimberNook is a nature-based program that is designed to be a sensory rich play experience that restores the mind and body. TimberNook inspires change in children through the natural environment and child driven free play. Children have an unhurried opportunity to explore and immerse themselves in deep meaningful play using the worldwide curriculum. Our location is 15 min east of Saskatoon and the rolling prairies hills and forest are the backdrop for this grand play.

Crystal Itterman and Shelley Bettker

Crystal Itterman, a registered pediatric Occupational Therapist with a BA in Psychology, has 15 years of experience working in local Saskatoon schools. Crystal is a passionate advocate for the importance of free play in the natural environment as a crucial element in children’s healthy physical, emotional, and educational development. Crystal has worked with parents and teachers to emphasize that the best treatment for building self-regulation, fine motor, gross motor, and sensory-motor development is to have kids frequently playing and moving outdoors in the woods. As the mom of two young children, Crystal puts her philosophy into practice with her own family and emphasizes: “I let them play in mud. I value tree climbing, puddle jumping, ice crunching, bug catching, and stick play!” In her free time, Crystal enjoys reading, camping, spending time with the two household cats Thor and Lokki, and travelling with her family. Shelley, who earned a BA in Education, is the hands-on lead teacher in three preschool classes at Explorers’ Preschool and Before & After School Care at Cardinal Leger School. Ever since she was young, Shelley has been inspired by playing in the woods, tromping in the mud, and opening herself up to the full sensory experience offered by natural play. These early experiences have had a profound effect on Shelley’s teaching philosophy and leadership at the Explorers Preschool, where children are encouraged to embrace nature as both the context of their play and as a playmate. The partnership with TimberNook — the first for any school in this province– was a natural fit for Shelley and her Explorers: “I love watching children learn, explore and create. I know that Saskatoon and our community will benefit from the TimberNook philosophy of giving children more time and space to be outdoors enjoying unstructured play with loose parts. This sums up my childhood and I want to make sure more children have access to nature-based play.” Her 17-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter, enjoy time outside with their three cats- Ginger, Fire, & Precious, and their dogs Walle and Axel. Shelley enjoys spending time with her family at their cabin fishing, boating, and downhill skiing.