Bird's Eye View: Outdoor Teacher Retreat

Fri.-Sat., April 3-4, 2020
Early birds register now! 

Friday Nature-Based Program Observations

New Canaan Nature Center Nature Preschool
New Canaan, CT
| 9:30-12 p.m.

Common Ground NatureYear (ages 5-12)
New Haven, CT 
| 12:30-3:30 p.m.


Saturday Outdoor Teacher Retreat
Pratt Nature Center
New Millford, CT
| 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

About this Nature-Based Training    

Get a bird's eye view into two CT nature-based programs on Friday followed by a full day of professional development on Saturday. We will begin on Friday with a visit at the nature preschool at New Canaan Nature Center from 9:30-11 a.m. followed by a reflective discussion with Q&A and lunch. Next, participants will travel to the NatureYear Program at Common Ground for a visit from 12:30-2 p.m., followed by more facilitated discussion about the learning environments and practices we observe. Our day will conclude at 3:30 p.m. at Common Ground in New Haven, CT. Transportation is not included, so we encourage you to carpool. 

*Note: We have a cap on the number of attendees who can join the Friday observation tours; don't delay if you want to join us!

On Saturday, we will gather at Pratt Nature Center in New Millford, CT. We will explore a range of topics that will inspire and equip you to more fully support children's connections with nature and DAP in nature-based ECE. You can expect hands-on sessions that are indoors and out! Presenters share insights and activities based on their work in nature preschools, forest kindergartens, or other nature-based program settings. 

This training is ideal for caregivers, educators, and others working with children three to seven years old. ERAFANS will provide a professional development certificate 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!

On Friday, lunch is included; on Saturday, light breakfast and lunch are included. (You can specify dietary restrictions during registration.) We strive to reduce our carbon footprint, so please bring your canteen for drinks on both days and carpool, if possible.

We thank our hosts at New Canaan Nature Center, Common Ground NatureYear Program, and Pratt Nature Center for making this training possible!

Schedule of Workshops

Being with Beings 
Common Ground Environmental Education Center Explore ways of interacting with other living beings we encounter in the course of our work.  At times the enthusiasm of students to catch, touch, and hold creatures interferes with time spent quietly observing.  Likewise, as teachers, our minds often want "to know", to name, to understand, etc. If we take the time to be with beings in particular ways, their stories begin to unfold before us, leading to deeper connections and investigations. In this workshop, we will model ways of being with other beings, including philosophy of interacting with living things and practical tips on encouraging gentle hands and reducing fear in children and adults who are not yet confident in meeting insects and other small living creatures!

Nature and the Young Child: Nurturing a Lasting Relationship
Suzanne Fogel, Westbrook Nature School
Westbrook Nature School offers a unique way to foster meaningful interaction between the young child and the natural world. In this workshop, we will learn how to engage with the child’s wonder of nature through child-led exploration and discovery. We will discuss wilderness skills such as tracking, animal signs, and bird language. Finally, we will consider how song and story add a poetic dimension to the child’s nature experience deepening their empathy for forest dwellers, inspiring a sense of beauty and place, and instilling a lasting love of nature. A portion of this workshop will be held outside, please dress for the weather. Recommended audience: Pre-K educators.

Best Practices for Tool Use 
Common Ground Environmental Education Center Children take great satisfaction in doing authentic work with real tools.  At Common Ground, children ages 4 and up saw and split wood, build with hand tools, whittle with knives, and garden with adult and child-sized implements. Join us as we model best practices, talk about our favorite kid-friendly tools, and of course, discuss safety. Participants will leave with their own tree cookie nametag!

The Magic of Fire 
Common Ground Environmental Education Center 
Campfires invite us to gather, building community and creating magic in outdoor programs. This workshop will cover tips and techniques for safe and successful campfire building, tools and equipment we like to use (including some kid-safe woodsplitting tools!), activities to do at the campfire, and strategies for managing fire safely with children. Participants will leave with the start of their own fire-crafted burn bowl!

More workshops on the way. Stay tuned!

Ready to join us? EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION OPEN!

Learn more about our 
payment and refund policies here. Thank you for joining us!

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