Field Trips and Workshops

Gather new ideas and inspiration by visiting model nature-based early learning programs or participating in a professional development workshop before or after the conference!

Scroll down to read all of the activity descriptions or jump directly to the one that interests you:

Wednesday, July 31

Saturday, August 3

 

 

Wednesday, July 31

 

A World Out of Sight: Activities for Discovering Nature with Children in the Pond, in the Garden, and in Ourselves

Start your conference experience with an immersive, hands-on professional development workshop in beautiful Lee, NH! Take away tools, ideas, and strategies for helping young children discover the wonders of forests, ponds, and gardens, with the help of educators from Live & Learn Early Learning Center, a NAEYC-accredited nature-based program nestled on a 25-acre farm.

Participants will have a choice of activities in the morning, as well as in the afternoon. In the morning, you can explore the hidden wonders of ponds and learn how to help children discover the diversity of unfamiliar animals that make these environments their home. Or, you can learn how to introduce storytelling and yoga in your outdoor classroom to help children focus, communicate, and self-regulate.

In the afternoon, you will be able to learn how to use your classroom garden to help children explore, imagine, try new things, and learn alone or with friends. Or, you can combine favorite nature books with a dramatic play walk in the woods to create a curriculum for toddlers and preschoolers that promotes nature learning through literacy.

Check out the full activity descriptions in this flier!

Lunch and transportation to and from the conference hotel are included with registration. In an effort to reduce waste, please plan to bring your own water bottle; water, tea, and coffee will be provided.

7:30am4:00pm | Price: $125


 

Central New Hampshire Field Trip

Join us on a tour of three model nature-based early learning programs in Central New Hampshire!

We will start the day at Fledglings Nature-Based Preschool, in Laconia, NH, a fully licensed program that uses the Prescott Farm property as the backdrop for helping students ages 3-5 years old to become lifelong learners and create meaningful connections to nature, the self, and others. 

We will then visit and have lunch at Mountain Village Charter School, a tuition-free, nature-based, Montessori elementary school in Plymouth, NH, that aims to engage students in child-centered and project-oriented learning to spark their innate curiosity, nurture their inner discipline, and foster their motivation to learn.

Finally, we will stop at the Blue Heron School in Holderness, NH, to learn how the program combines the Montessori philosophy and materials with opportunities for both spontaneous outdoor exploration and guided discoveries with naturalists at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, which is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Lunch and transportation to and from the conference hotel are included with registration. In an effort to reduce waste, a beverage will not be provided with lunch. Please plan to bring your own water bottle; there will be opportunities to refill at our stops.

7:15am4:00pm | Price: $75


 

Massachussetts North Shore Field Trip

Visit three model nature-based early childhood education programs on this trip to the Mass North Shore!

We will begin with a tour of Merrohawke Nature School in Newburyport, MA, whose programs include an all-outdoors Forest Kindergarten, parent-child programs, and year-round outdoor programs for ages 4 to teens. The programs are inspired by Waldorf education and coyote mentoring, and promote a deep connection to the Earth—on land and sea.

We will then tour and have lunch at Mass Audubon's Ipswich River Nature Preschool at the Endicott Wildlife Sanctuary. The program serves fifty 3-to-6 year-olds and uses a 40-acre landscape to foster children's creativity and curiosity through hands-on science activities, nature walks, and gardening.

Finally, we will visit Nature's Pathways Early Childhood Center in Nashua, NH, a program for children ages 8 weeks through interim-kindergarten that nurtures inquiry, curiosity, and exploration on a working farm with forested trails, fields, ponds, and wetlands.

Lunch and transportation to and from the conference hotel are included with registration. In an effort to reduce waste, a beverage will not be provided with lunch. Please plan to bring your own water bottle; there will be opportunities to refill at our stops.

7:45am—3:45pm | Price: $75


 

Higher Education Summit

If you work or study in a college, university, or other higher education setting, you don't want to miss the inaugural nature-based early learning Higher Education Summit! 

Join teacher educators and other higher ed institution representatives from around the country for a day of presentations, small- and large-group discussions, brainstorming, and joint planning to help recruit and prepare future educators and leaders in nature-based early childhood education.

During this all-day event organized by the Council of Nature and Forest Preschools' Higher Education Committee, we’ll discuss the state of nature-based early childhood education training, classes, certificates, and degrees. We will share the results of a survey that looked at opportunities, needs, and challenges that face those in college and university settings around North America, and address timely questions, such as: 
  • What are the interdisciplinary connections between nature-based early childhood education and other curricular areas, including teacher licensure?
  • How can institutions of higher education best support the growing demand for high-quality nature-based early childhood education training and teacher preparation?
  • What core competencies, skills, and dispositions should program graduates possess?
  • How do we continue to professionalize training and education in the field?
  • How can higher education institutions help to diversify the nature-based early childhood education workforce?

In addition, representatives of nature-based teacher education programs will share highlights of their work and discuss how we can come together as a community to seize the opportunity and respond to the demand for nature-based early learning programs in higher education.

The Summit is generously hosted by SEE Science Center, located a short walk or hotel shuttle ride away from the conference venue. Lunch is included with registration.

10:00am4:00pm | Price: $50


 

Saturday, August 3

 

Boston Area Field Trip

Visit an elementary school and two preschool programsone at a farm and the other at an urban nature centerthat demonstrate the rich variety of nature-based early learning programming!

Our first stop is the Peter Woodbury Elementary School, located just a short distance from the conference hotel. Tour the Community Schoolyard, a space featuring a timber frame outdoor classroom, covered bridge, messy play materials, fairy garden, tree cathedral, dry river bed, labyrinth, gazebo, basketball court, fields, gardens and traditional play equipment, and meet the creators of the space as well as the teachers that utilize it every day.

We will then tour and have lunch at Mass Audubon's Drumlin Farm Community Preschool, where an emergent and nature-based curriculum is combined with outdoor play and exploration, farm chores, wildlife visits, and planting and harvesting to develop children's cognitive, physical, social, and emotional growth.

Finally, we will visit the Pathways to Nature Preschool at the Boston Nature Center, a program committed to serving the working families of the surrounding urban community and immersing children in a science and nature curriculum through hands-on activities, investigations, and free play.

Lunch and transportation to and from the conference hotel are included with registration. In an effort to reduce waste, a beverage will not be provided with lunch. Please plan to bring your own water bottle; there will be opportunities to refill at our stops.

7:30am4:30pm | Price: $75


 

Eastern New Hampshire and Maine Field Trip

Tour three model nature-based early learning programsincluding a public elementary schoolin Maine and Eastern New Hampshire!

We will first visit Live & Learn Early Learning Center in Lee, NH, a NAEYC-accredited, experiential program on a functional 25-acre farm. Live & Learn began as a summer program in 1974; today, it offers year-round programming and it regularly trains nature-based educators from all over the region. This year, it has added a naturalist to every classroom so that children may go on a nature walk, look for birds, feed the worm farm, and learn in and with nature every day. We will also enjoy an outdoor lunch before we depart Live & Learn.

We will then tour Eyes of the World Discovery Center Nature-Based Preschool, a program of the community center in Kittery, ME. The preschool offers open-ended exploration that allows children to build forts, dig holes “to China”, make mud pies, daydream in a special hiding place, and swing on vines in a Forest Classroom year-round.

Finally, we will visit Dondero Elementary School in Portsmouth, NH, whose outdoor learning experiences started with two classrooms going out to the woods behind the school on Friday mornings, but now is finding more and more ways to integrate the curriculum with the interests and themes that emerge out of the time children spend in nature.

Lunch and transportation to and from the conference hotel are included with registration. In an effort to reduce waste, a beverage will not be provided with lunch. Please plan to bring your own water bottle; there will be opportunities to refill at our stops.

8:15am—4:45pm | Price: $75


 

Nature-Based & Forest Preschool Business Planning Workshop: Helping Your Business Take Flight 
 
The goal of this workshop, facilitated by Rachel Larimore and David Catlin of Samara Early Learning, LLC, is to help your nature-based or forest preschool dream take flight. This one-day workshop will not only help you get started, but also provide you the road map for accomplishing your vision. We will begin with an overview of the business planning process, then we will guide you on questions to ask and tools to answer those questions—all specific to the unique business needs of nature-based and forest preschools. We will provide specific guidance related to these topics: 
 
  • Key decisions (e.g., mission, goals, administrative model, partnerships)
  • Programming plan (What will the program look and feel like?)
  • Site plan (How do I determine if a site is right for my business?)
  • Building plan (What does the ideal physical space look like and how can I achieve that vision?) 
  • Marketing plan (Who is the target market? How do I reach them? How do I identify potential competition?)
  • Operating plan (How do I identify the nuts and bolts of my program such as schedule, registration process, insurance, etc.?)
  • Financial plan (How do I identify and track start-up and operating expenses?)
  • Risk analysis (What might go wrong in my business plan and how might I respond if it does?) 

The workshop itself will be a mix of presentations and small-group interaction and problem-solving. All of these activities are designed to ensure you leave the workshop having made substantial progress on your business plan. Yes, you’ll leave with more work to do, but our goal is for you to leave with a clear road map of next steps to quickly and efficiently make your preschool a reality.

Presentation handouts, worksheets and business templates, and lunch will be provided. The Summit is generously hosted by SEE Science Center, located a short walk or hotel shuttle ride away from the conference venue.
 
Please visit the website of Samara Early Learning, LLC, to register for this workshop.
 
9:00am—4:00pm | Price: $135
 
 
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