Bright Ideas

Summer Courses in Nature-Based Early Childhood Education at Antioch University New England

Natural Start

Photo by Bob Bailie

The new Nature-Based Early Childhood MEd Focus or Certificate program in the Department of Education at Antioch University New England trains teachers, administrators, and founders of nature preschools and forest kindergartens. The objective of the program, especially for the Professional Development participants, is to make the courses as practical as possible. Therefore, the goal for each course will be to have each student generate a product that is tangibly useful in his or her work situation. 

Courses are offered year-around for both fully matriculated students who are working toward a certification in early childhood education and professionals in early childhood education seeking continuing education. Two courses will be offered in July:


Nature-based Early Childhood Curriculum, EDC 509 (2 credits)

July 7-11, Patti Bailie

Nature preschools and forest kindergartens have a uniquely different approach to curriculum from conventional indoor early childhood centers. This course will focus on the distinctive elements for outdoor programming for children aged three to six. Topics include the value of unstructured play, fostering independence, nature and language development, the balance of indoors and outdoors experience, interfacing with the conventional elementary curriculum in literacy, math and science, and connections to the community.



Childhood and Nature, EDT 536 A (3 credits)

July 14-18, David Sobel

When children have access to free play in natural areas, they make special places, go on adventures, develop fantasy games, go hunting and gathering, craft small worlds. These recurrent play patterns can be used as design principles to help structure engaging outdoor activities.

We’ll recollect our own favorite childhood experiences and spend time outside exploring some of these recurrent play patterns. We’ll discuss the research on the relationship between childhood play in nature and environmental behavior in adults. We’ll design new approaches to curriculum and nature programming in early childhood programs, elementary schools, nature centers, and environmental programs.


This fall, look for courses in Landscape Analysis and Design for Nature Play and Learning, Natural History for Early Childhood, and Movement and Storytelling in the Pre-K Classroom. For more information on AUNE’s nature-based education program, visit their website




professional development, certificate