Professional Development Opportunities

Resources

ONGOING

Nature-Based Early Childhood Courses

January, Spring, and Summer Semesters at Antioch University, New England

The Nature Pre-School and Forest Kindergarten movement has been thriving in Europe for the last three decades and has recently taken root in the United States.  Currently, there is a lack of professional development, training, leadership, in this new field of nature-based early childhood education.  The Education Department at Antioch New England is initiating a new program to train teachers, administrators and founders of Nature Pre-Schools and Forest Kindergartens commencing in summer 2013. 
 

Project Learning Tree Early Childhood Workshops

Held throughout the country. Search webpage by state and by type (Early Childhood).

Project Learning Tree educator workshops are open to anyone, held at convenient times, and are offered for free or at a nominal charge. These workshops are designed to help you learn how to incorporate PLT activities into your current and future programming; meet other local professionals interested or already involved in environmental education; become part of a network that offers you follow-up resources and opportunities, and learn about environmental education.
 

Nebraska Growing Up WILD Workshops

Held throughout Nebraska for early childhood educators.  Scroll down and search for Growing Up WILD.

Growing Up WILD is an early childhood education program that builds on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world around them. During the training workshop participants will sample activities and receive a curriculum and activity guide. 

 

Illinois Project Learning Tree Early Childhood Workshops

Held throughout Illinois for early childhood educators.

PLT Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood includes over 130 experiences that engage children in outdoor play and exploration and is specifically designed for educators who work with children ages three to six. During the training workshop participants will sample activities and receive a curriculum and activity guide along with accompanying music CD.

 

Illinois Growing Up WILD Early Childhood Workshops

Held throughout Illinois for early childhood educators.

Growing Up WILD is an early childhood education program that builds on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world around them. During the training workshop participants will sample activities and receive a curriculum and activity guide.

 

Consulting Children:  Claire Warden's Interactive Online Courses

Available online for early childhood educators.

Claire Warden presents a selection of bite-sized online training through video, practical steps and downloads. These accessible courses take approximately one hour to complete providing quality, inspirational ideas, motivation, improved practice, and value for your money. There are 5 live courses now available including Floorbooks, Floorbooks and the Brain, Floorbooks and Talk, Nature Pedagogy and Risk It!

 

Nature Explore Workshops for Educators

Held throughout the country for adults who work with children.

Engaging, inspiring research-based Nature Explore educator workshops support comprehensive learning with nature. Designed for adults who work with children in many ways (from schools, to early childhood programs, to environmental education programs), each hands-on Nature Explore Workshop is offered regionally, or may be scheduled at your own site.

 

Kindergarten Teacher Training and Certification

Held monthly at Cedarsong Nature School on Vashon Island, Washington

As nature-based preschools and forest kindergartens become more popular, it is important that we maintain standards of excellence for this model. This 20-hour teacher training course prepares you to be the best forest kindergarten teacher or director possible.

2018

February

February 10, 2018 to May 19, 2018
Greenville Zoo
Greenville, SC
NatureStart™ regional model for professional development program focusing on skill development for informal educators in zoos, aquariums, nature centers and early childhood educators as they provide nature play-based early learning opportunities for young children and their families in those institutions and programs. NatureStart™ is based on principles and practices in use by the Chicago Zoological Society, which are designed to develop competencies in eight core areas needed to develop a child-centered understanding of learning, play, and nature. These competencies form the foundation for developing nature-based play and learning programs and environments for young children and families in informal science settings. All three sessions on Feb 10, Mar 10, May 19, 2018 are required for completion.

April

April 24, 2018
You know that your students are learning in the great outdoors, but how do you go about documenting it? This is a big question that comes with many different answers! Join us in a round table webinar with experts across the country. Your hosts will share with you their favorite and most successful tools for nature-based documentation from modified Floorbooks, play profiles, blogs and more. Specific nature-based assessment tools from Fiddleheads Forest School and Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool will be shared. Come ready to learn! This webinar is brought to you by the Natural Start Alliance and the Northern Illinois Nature Preschool Association.
April 27, 2018
Bronx, NY
NatureStart™ regional model for professional development program focusing on skill development for informal educators in zoos, aquariums, nature centers and early childhood educators as they provide nature play-based early learning opportunities for young children and their families in those institutions and programs.. NatureStart™ is based on principles and practices in use by the Chicago Zoological Society, which are designed to develop competencies in eight core areas needed to develop a child-centered understanding of learning, play, and nature. These competencies form the foundation for developing nature-based play and learning programs and environments for young children and families in informal science settings. All three sessions on Feb 2, Mar 16, Apr 27, 2018 are required for completion.
April 27, 2018
Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield, IL
NatureStart™ regional model for professional development program focusing on skill development for informal educators in zoos, aquariums, nature centers as they provide play-based nature education for children from birth to age 8 and their families in those institutions. NatureStart™ is based on principles and practices in use by the Chicago Zoological Society which are designed to develop competencies in eight core areas needed to develop a child-centered understanding of learning, play, and nature. These competencies form the foundation for developing nature-based play and learning programs and environments for young children and families in informal science settings. All three sessions on Jan.26, Feb.23, April 27, 2018 are required for completion.
April 28, 2018
Hinckley, ME
You do not want to miss out on this year's professional development event! Sessions on self-care and mindfulness have been added. Returning topics include: STEM, nature-based play, health and well-being. Thoughtful and inspiring presenters feature a new lens of perspective. Our wide range of topics will provide something for everyone!
April 28, 2018
Teton Science School
Jackson, WY
Learn from cutting edge educators who are redefining what’s possible in early childhood education. The conference will feature morning and afternoon keynotes and two workshop time slots to actively engage in the nature programming of your choice. All events focus on the educational and health benefits of being in the natural world with children .Keynote Speakers: Dr. Deb Carter, Boise State University, Boise, ID and David Sobel, Senior Faculty, Antioch University New England, Keene, NH.

May

May 2, 2018
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
Join this annual professional development event geared toward enabling access to developmentally appropriate nature play experiences for early childhood (birth through age 8). Keynote David Sobel will focus on innovations in nature play for early childhood and early elementary age groups. Through interactive workshops, you will be inspired to push beyond your comfort zones to expand your concept of nature play and come away with hands-on ideas that can be immediately integrated into work with young children. Sessions will be led by a variety of early childhood and environmental experts.
May 2, 2018 to May 3, 2018
The Morton Arboretum
Lisle, IL 60532
Join The Morton Arboretum and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago at a summit for nature-based education practitioners, early childhood researchers, and evaluators to examine how outdoor spaces and nature play support young children’s science learning. Participants will share insights from our experience and our understanding of the scientific evidence about children’s learning outdoors. We will collaboratively identify research priorities and success factors for early childhood learning through nature-based education and shape a new collaborative network for outdoor learning research and practice.
May 3, 2018 to May 5, 2018
1401 W. Green St
Urbana, IL 61801
Play is a necessity for children and youth. Yet with each passing year, the time, space and freedom children have allocated to self- directed play is infringed upon. This May, those who work with children or are interested in play in their communities will gather to review why play is important, hear about the current movement towards prioritizing play and to learn about how the field of playwork is crucial in today's world. Join us in Champaign-Urbana, IL for the Prioritizing Play Conference. Learn about our wonderful KeyNote Speakers: Prof. Peter Gray and Morgan Leichter-Saxby.
May 5, 2018
Common Ground Environmental Education Center
New Haven, CT
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. This training features two tracks for educators working with children ages 3-5 years old and 5-7 years old. Throughout the day, you can choose which sessions are the most useful to you.
May 18, 2018 to May 20, 2018
The University of Maine at Farmington
Farmington, ME
UMF is pleased to announce its third annual Nature Based Education Institute, an innovative professional development opportunity for educators and administrators interested in implementing or expanding upon nature-based programming in their classrooms.
May 19, 2018
The Academy School
Brattleboro, VT
Learn from cutting edge educators who are redefining what’s possible in early childhood education. The conference will feature morning and afternoon keynotes and two workshop time slots to actively engage in the nature programming of your choice. All events focus on the educational and health benefits of being in the natural world with children .Keynote Speakers: Amy Butler, Education Director, North Branch Nature Center, Montpelier, Vermont and Martin Besford, Head of Highway Farm Activity Center, Redruth, Cornwall, UK
May 30, 2018 to June 1, 2018
Chippewa Nature Center
Midland, MI
In partnership with the teachers at Chippewa Nature Center's Nature Preschool, this 3-day workshop (May 30-June 1, 2018) is designed for early childhood educators looking to learn more about the nature-based approach and ways to incorporate those practices into their daily teaching. The workshop will be held at Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, MI and include significant time to observe the nature preschool teachers and students in action.

June

June 1, 2018 to June 2, 2018
L&N STEM Academy
Knoxville, TN
The Early Learning Institute is an annual event held each summer and began in 2015. The mission of the institute is to create an intimate, supportive, professional context for early childhood educators and natural leaders to collaborate and share nature-based practices and thinking. The aim is to connect, inspire, and encourage a variety of educators as they explore and cultivate pedagogy surrounding nature-based play and opportunities for young children, their families, and early childhood practitioners.
June 1, 2018 to June 3, 2018
Woodson Branch Nature School
Marshall, NC
More than straightforward conference, this Summit is an event for nature-based early childhood practitioners who want to recharge and celebrate! Feel the energy and kinship offered by others who have the same goals as you. Nestled less than an hour from Asheville, the Woodson Branch Nature School is in the beautiful back country of North Carolina. Our summit features sessions for educators working with children ages three through eight years old (preschool - 3rd grade). We are delighted to announce that Amy Butler, Director of Education at the North Branch Nature Center, is giving the keynote! Amy is the founder of Vermont's first forest preschool program at NBNC, and she also created a model program Educating Children Outdoors (ECO) for routine outdoor learning in VT public schools.
June 10, 2018 to June 14, 2018
Prescott College
Prescott, AZ
Explore the research supporting the developmental benefits to children's exposure to nature. Develop standards-based ECE activities that they can implement immediately in their setting. Consider new ways to create the space young people need to have positive nature experiences. Identify community resources to promote children's access to nature-based activities. Discuss models for assessing outcomes and advocating for nature-based activities in the home.
June 20, 2018
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Cleveland, OH
Go on a field trip with our CMNH Naturalists to various natural areas & parks. Explore activities from the Museum’s new edition of the Nature in the City curriculum guide. Receive a FREE copy of the Nature in the City activity guide – adaptable for grades PreK - 5!
June 25, 2018 to July 6, 2018
Bishop, CA
The Academy of Forest Kindergarten Teachers offers high quality, experiential, in-depth training and certification for current and up and coming early childhood educators dedicated to connecting children with Nature. In order to build a strong foundation in developmentally appropriate practices, deep nature connection and naturalist skills, we provide an active, engaging, and transformational curriculum. The Academy's comprehensive teacher training program provides our students with the theoretical, practical skills, knowledge, and magic to become exceptional educators and mentors in the field. The Foundation Course is open to everyone, from beginners to seasoned naturalists and educators. This course lays the groundwork for those on a journey towards Forest Kindergarten Teacher Certification. Level 1 participants may be experienced naturalists and educators. Level 1 also welcomes beginners, those with naturalist skills eager to understand early childhood development and practices, as well as those with an early childhood education background who want to develop naturalist skills to deepen their work. Early registration is advised. CEUs are offered through Antioch University Santa Barbara.
June 25, 2018 to June 26, 2018
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Denver, CO
What young child doesn’t enjoy collecting sticks and rocks while they are out for a walk? Learn how to put that natural curiosity to work using engaging opportunities for science inquiry. Join us to explore City Park and experience nature firsthand with hands-on investigations and ways to create authentic connections between home and school. This unique teacher professional development opportunity is sure to pique your curiosity as well!

July

July 9, 2018 to July 13, 2018
713 Elm Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
The ECO Institute provides inquiry-based, outdoor learning through intensive experiential lessons, activities, and discussions. Led by NBNC staff and partners, participants will move beyond the classroom and engage with nature as a learning partner. Participants will develop a nature pedagogy and learn to incorporate VELS, NGSS, and Common Core into their design of nature immersion curricula. *Graduate credit is offered through Castleton University and the Castleton Center for Schools. Our ECO level 1 course for early childhood educators introduces participants to the core routines that structure a successful outdoor classroom experience. Participants will: Engage in provocations and learning around forest classroom management, foundational math and literacy skill development outdoors, teaching with fire, and meeting VELS in partnership with natural spaces. Learn how to conduct risk benefit assessments and manage hazards within an outdoor classroom space. Develop a knowledge base and skill set to incorporate nature immersion into your program in a way that meets the needs of your students.
July 9, 2018 to July 13, 2018
Shelburne, VT
Enrich your early childhood curriculum using the Farm as your classroom and sustainability as your lens.
July 16, 2018 to July 19, 2018
Copenhagen, Denmark,
The Nordic Outdoor Model of Education study tour happening this July featuring Udeskole and Friluftsliv environments, forest kindergartens, nature playgrounds and adventure playgrounds. Explore with the NOME!
July 22, 2018 to July 25, 2018
Nebraska City, NE
Join with a growing community of natural outdoor classroom users and advocates to set intentions for positive growth and change. Gain practical ideas and inspiring information through presentations, hands-on activities, discussion groups and networking events, and meet with people engaged in similar work.
July 23, 2018 to July 26, 2018
Ferntop Nature Preschool
Fairview, TN
As educators, we need to slow down: watch children fill themselves with all the possibilities of learning with nature and to allow children the time for a childhood full of excitement and joy inside, outside, and beyond. Claire Warden's 6 Day Nature Pedagogy Course - Journeys Into Nature™ will change the way you work with children for the better. How do we truly integrate nature into all aspects of learning, whether we are indoors, outdoors or beyond? How do we ensure that children are having authentic and natural learning experiences? Why is learning in a natural context important?

August

August 1, 2018 to August 4, 2018
Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield, IL
Join nature-based early childhood professionals from around the world for engaging presentations, experiential workshops, site tours, and professional networking! The Natural Start Alliance, the International Association of Nature Pedagogy, and the Northern Illinois Nature Preschools Association are combining their 2018 professional conferences into an international event for all who work with young children and value nature-based education. Claire Warden, author, education consultant, and CEO of Claire Warden Ltd. will deliver the conference’s keynote address.