OUTDOOR TEACHER RETREAT

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About this Retreat 
Discover ways that nature-based learning enhances skill development during a hands-on day of training! Presenters share insights and activities based on their work in nature preschools, forest kindergartens, or other nature-based programs. Training is ideal for educators working with children ages 3-6 years old. Lunch is included on Saturday, but bring your canteen for drinks.

In addition to a fantastic roster of presenters, our hosts at the Children's Tree House at the National Conservation Training Center provide a tour of their nature-based childcare center and Nature Explore certified outdoor classroom.  

Professional development certificate provided at the conclusion of the event. Please dress for the weather, as at least 50% of this event will take place outdoors, and don't forget your canteen!

Workshop Descriptions (complete schedule here)

Growing Up Wild Mini-Session
Ellen Murphy, Potomac Valley Audubon

This training will introduce you to Growing Up Wild curriculum. We will try out some of the activities, and have fun! Participants also get a copy of the activity guide and contact with a real, live person who can answer questions, even after you return home.

Growing Up Wild focuses on early childhood education to help build on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world around them.  The activity guide, Growing Up WILD: Exploring Nature with Young Children is written especially for early childhood educators of children ages 3-7 and features field-tested, hands-on, nature-based experiences in a full-color activity guide.  Each activity includes outdoor explorations, scientific inquiry, art projects, music and movement, conservation activities, reading and math connections and "Healthy Me" extensions.  The resource guide is correlated to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Standards and Head Start Domains. 

Growing Up WILD is part of the Project WILD education initiative of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), introduced in 1983. It also includes WILD Aquatic, Flying Wild, and Growing Up Wild.

Bird Language and Nature Connection
Joseph Murray, The Pearlstone Center

In the tradition of Coyote Mentoring and Tom Brown, Jr. tracking, Joe introduces bird language to help children develop greater awareness, observation, and connection with the natural world.

Finding Your Path: Map-making and Personal Directions
Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS)
This two-part session features how to create maps of your grounds with young children. We will include a reflective component for self-study (one's own map), during our time as well.  

Welcome to Tinytown and Dragonville
Nickie Haines, Children’s Tree House
Venture into the woodlands to our little worlds of Tinytown and Dragonville. Come see how the children explore the forest, use tools, and natural play things to connect with nature.

Primitive Skill Share
Amy Moore, Potomac Valley Audubon Society

Join PVAS's Lead Naturalist to learn how to build fires, forage for food, and whittle wood. All can be used to build eye-hand coordination, learn safety, and develop a keen sense of observation. This is a great overview of basic survival skills for kids of most ages!

Natural Inspiration: Loose Parts Play
Jade Garcia, Unified Earth Vision
Hands on experiences help children create an intimate relationship with nature. We will gather supplies (loose parts) together outdoors and discover how mathematics, engineering, science, art, and language skills emerge. 


Tour of the Children’s Tree House
This informal tour gives you an opportunity to ask questions and see how the team at the Children’s Tree House help young children build skills and develop an appreciation for nature. Visit includes indoor tour of classrooms and Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom.

Conscious Observation
Jade Garcia, Unified Earth Vision

Teaching children to be mindful of their surroundings helps guide them to be more conscious of themselves. We will practice being more intimate in our relationship with nature, while discovering how it impacts our relationships with our peers and our environment. We will use our senses for basic plant ID as we draw closer to nature.

Making Learning Visible in Forest & Nature Schools
Emma Huvos, Riverside Nature School, WV
“So all you do is play outside?” If you’re in this field, chances are you’ve heard that question more times than you can count. Whether you’re trying to enroll new students, secure grant funding, convince administrators to get on board, or simply explain what you do at a cocktail party, you won’t want to miss this comprehensive overview of ways to make learning visible through photo, video, and authentic documentation of student work. We’ll leave time for group discussion and individual planning, ensuring that all participants walk away inspired and ready to put their learning into action. 

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