This seasonal series is packed with practical approaches to help teachers take learning outside. Join experienced practitioners from the Eastern Ridge School in Great Falls, Virginia during this inspiring (and useful!) virtual series. Classes will meet on third Tuesdays, Jan. 19, Feb. 16, and Mar. 16. Read on for detailed descriptions of each session. A professional development certificate will be awarded at the conclusion of the series.
We are grateful to partner with the Eastern Ridge School in Great Falls, VA for this series. Learn more about Christina and Julie below.
Tuesday, January 19, 2021 from 7-8:30PM (EST)
Bring it On! Embracing the Weather as a Teaching Tool
So you are all geared up in your new waterproof anorak and your preschoolers and their families are prepared for countless days outside, but does the reality of teaching in the rain still make you feel like casting your morals aside and calling in sick? You are not alone, but you do have a choice. Do not let the rain wash out a great opportunity for learning what the new day provides. Instead, let the weather define the moment and shape your curriculum. This workshop will show how rain, snow, wind, cold, and heat can guide your curriculum. Let go, lean in, and learn some best practices for teaching in challenging inclement weather conditions.
Tuesday, February 16, 2021 from 7-8:30PM (EST)
Backpacks and Back Pockets: Essentials for the Outdoor Early Childhood Educator
Along with new COVID-19 protocols, preschool teachers these days are facing other significant challenges as they take their programs outside for the first time. We are not talking about curriculum here. Taught by a team who has been there, this unique workshop was developed with practical challenges in mind. We are talking about how it feels to lead preschoolers in a project outside with a smile on your face as rain seeps into your boots. Learn how to prepare yourself with not only practical ideas for your own gear, but also some tricks in your back pocket for the most challenging of outdoor moments.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021 from 7-8:30PM (EST)
The Capable Kid: Putting Kids to Work
Our industrious preschoolers are ready and willing to work, and want to feel that the work they do is valuable. As outdoor educators, we need to find ways of providing learning opportunities no matter the weather. During this online workshop, we will look at some meaningful outdoor jobs that children enjoy and we will look at ways of quantifying the learning that goes on while kids are hard at work. We will cover practical tips and takeaways that you may use in your own program, including an opportunity to discuss and share best practices with other industry professionals. If you are new to teaching outdoors or are looking for fresh ideas, this workshop is for you.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
This course is ideal for anyone who facilitates nature-based education and outdoor learning, which may include: teachers and administrators in preschool, childcare, or elementary school settings; naturalists, environmental educators, or outdoor educators; wilderness survival enthusiasts; and parents.
Christina Dougan Blocksom, Lead Teacher at Eastern Ridge School
Christina teaches four- and five-year-olds at Eastern Ridge School, a three-acre, outdoor, play-based, nature preschool in Great Falls, VA. With a background in business and early childhood education, Christina has been working with preschoolers for a little over ten years. She comes from a traditional, cooperative preschool model that increasingly merged with the forest kindergarten and nature immersion pedagogies. She has trained with the late Erin Kenny of Cedarsong Nature School on Vashon Island, WA and later joined ERS as one of its lead teachers. ERS is dedicated to teaching outdoors in all kinds of weather, and values nature education and treating children with respect and encouraging them to be the capable, independent people they are.
Julie Altman Liddle, Director of Eastern Ridge School
After working as an art therapist in a special education setting for 10 years, Julie developed her own early childhood art program which she delivered in community centers throughout Northern Virginia as well as in her own backyard. She joined ERS as Art Specialist in 2013, and has brought her vision to the role of Program Director at the school since 2017. Julie’s passion for weaving nature connection into early childhood education emerged from nearly two decades of work developing art programs for toddlers and preschoolers. She realized that along with children’s innate desire and ability to express themselves with materials, there was also an innate sense of wonder inspired by the natural world. She found that the marriage of these two elements seamlessly elicited joyful and meaningful exploration, discovery, self-expression, learning and growth across domains.