This training is ideal for educators, caregivers, and others working with children three to six years old. Attendees work in all kinds of settings, from nature-based schools and forest kindergartens to public schools, traditional preschools, HeadStart programs, childcare centers, daycare, and more. Light breakfast and lunch are included, but bring your canteen for drinks.
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!
Tour of Fallen Forest: Where Forest School Magic Happens!
Nicole Landgo, Painted Oak Nature School
In this session, participants will hike out to the home of Painted Oak's Forest School, enjoying a game and some songs along the way. Once arrived, participants will hear how's and why's behind the organization of space, a bit about risk vs. hazard, and how we spend our four hours among trees. There will be time provided for Q&A.
Nature Connections for Learning, Stewardship, and Self Care
Simona Lederman, Nature Playschool
Experience and discuss how to develop a personal practice of nature connection for people of all ages (including young children), which deepens the learning opportunities, fosters bonds that promote sustainability, and nourishes the self.
Methods that Work: A Nature Teacher’s Toolkit for Managing Conflict and Creating Joyful, Peaceful Learning Environments, Susan Chlebowski
Even in the peaceful outdoors, there will always be conflict and challenging behaviors when working with young children. An experienced nature-based Montessori teacher and trained mediator shares tricks of the trade to limit conflict, manage challenging behaviors, ease transitions and support young children in the all-important development of emotional self-regulation.
Gardening With Children
Carolina Firbas, Painted Oak Nature School
Gardening with children will plant the seed for a lifelong passion that will lead to the understanding of our invaluable relationship with the natural world. Along with the hands-on experience that gardening provides, children will also develop and array of skills in math, sciences, literacy, art, personal growth, social emotional and healthy well-being.
Creating Routines Through Mindfulness and Song
Mary Claire Sonneman and Anna Maxwell, South Mountain Nature School
One of the most important elements of a Forest Kindergarten program is that children experience a sense of timelessness in nature. We want to create time and space for them to feel free of the time constraints and transitions that make up our busy lives. Songs and mindfulness are great tools for creating routines that feel natural and easy in a Forest Kindergarten.
Developing the 8 Senses Through Nature Play
Melissa Shepherd, Star Child Nature School
In this workshop we will discuss not only how children’s sense of touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell are developed through spending time outdoors, but how we as nature-based educators can help develop children’s vestibular, proprioceptive, and interoceptive senses as well. These three lesser known senses are crucial in children’s development and lacking in many.
After gathering indoors for an informative presentation, we’ll head outside for interactive activities that demonstrate and develop the eight senses. Please dress for the weather and be ready to embrace your inner child through climbing, balancing, rolling, pushing, lifting, jumping, and more - barefoot if you choose!
Outdoor Nature Games
Jessica Clayton, Riverside Nature Play School
As a NJ-certified teacher, family childcare provider, and moderator for the Nature Preschool Ideas and Community group on Facebook, Jessica knows a thing or two about the value of playful games! She guides you through wildly fun Forest Games that highlight facts about animals, improve gross motor skills, hone observation skills in the forest, and provide joyful experiences in the natural world. Games can be modified for any learning environment. We will be playing the games ourselves, so be prepared to get active, make friends, and have fun!
Oakers Make Ochres
Meta Arnold, Painted Oak Nature School
Come meet on the banks of Crayfish Creek to make paint from rocks! We will grind pigment by rubbing the local shale on large stones, and compare the colors of natural earth ochres from around the world. Adding sap and honey as binders, we’ll learn about the science and history of the very oldest form of art. Expect to get muddy!
Animals in the Classroom
Jessica Halsrud, Kew Kids Forest School
Nature Art Networking and Jam Session:
Sharing Music Around the Campfire
Bring a song in your pocket (and an instrument if you like!). This song share will introduce you to beloved tunes that others use in their programs. You can also opt to listen while you craft around the campfire.
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