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.

2019

June

June 1, 2019
Thornhill Education Center at The Morton Arboretum
Lisle, IL 60532
The Northern Illinois Nature Preschool Association (NINPA), in conjunction with the Wisconsin Nature-based Early Childhood Association (WiNBECA) and The Morton Arboretum, is holding a symposium to bring together early childhood educators, administrators, and naturalists who are interested in nature-based learning and want to build on their current skill set while they learn about new ideas and trends in the field. Keynote speaker will be Christy Merrick, Special Projects Advisor at the Natural Start Alliance. Christy launched NAAEE’s Natural Start Alliance in 2013, and is now working with education leaders to develop a common set of practices for high-quality nature-based preschool programs in the United States.
June 2, 2019 to June 5, 2019
Long Beach, CA
Rachel Larimore, Founder of Samara Early Learning, will be presenting a concurrent session, titled “Learning beyond walls: Integrating nature into the preschool classroom” at NAEYC’s Professional Learning Institute June 2-5, 2019 in Long Beach, California. She will also be joining Gryphon House, publisher of her new book (Preschool Beyond Walls: Blending Early Childhood Education and Nature-Based Learning) in the Exhibit Hall. Conference registration is required to attend these presentations. Click here to register! Also, please check the conference program for session times and locations.
June 8, 2019
The Hitchcock Center for the Environment
Amherst, MA
This year we’re expanding our focus from pre-school & Kindergarten to pre-school through 3rd grade in response to the many 1st through 3rd grade teachers who are moving their curriculum out into the woods and fields around their schools. Join us at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment where we are confident that the clematis, iris, peonies, AND dandelions will all be in bloom!
June 8, 2019
Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center
Bellevue, WA
​Registration for the Washington Area Nature Preschool Association (WaNPA--www.wanpa.org) symposium is officially open! We are so excited to announce the theme for this year's gathering, which was chosen based on your feedback: Our Planet, Our Children, Ourselves: Adapting Nature-based Education in an Era of Climate Change. This year's symposium will be held at the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center on Saturday, June 8th from 9am-4pm. The format will be similar to years past, with a plenary panel as well as breakout sessions and a site visit. This year we'll also have guided activities like mindfulness practice and a native plant walk as well. We are still looking for educators to participate, so please let us know on the registration form if you're interested in joining the climate change panel or helping to facilitate a breakout session!
June 10, 2019
Toronto, Canada,
Get ready to go deep in assessing the benefits of risk in the outdoors and how to build adventure into your day. Learn how to use tools with children, and how you can incorporate risk benefit assessment into daily routines. There are two 2018-2019 workshops to choose from.
June 10, 2019 to June 14, 2019
Prescott College
Prescott, AZ
Join us this summer for 5 days of inspiring and hands-on professional development in beautiful Prescott, Arizona on the Prescott College campus. Collaborate with a passionate and diverse group of ECE educators (birth-age 8) from all over the country, at the annual early childhood educator Nature & Place-Based Summer Institute.
June 10, 2019 to June 13, 2019
Chippewa Nature Center
Midland, MI
Samara Early Learning owner, Rachel Larimore, will once again be joining the staff of Chippewa Nature Center's Nature Preschool in facilitating this four-day workshop. The Institute allows preschool educators to see the teachers and students in action (three of the four mornings) while also learning about the philosophy and nature-based teaching practices. You'll walk away with the information and skills to incorporate nature-based concepts into daily preschool routines while maintaining the integrity of their best practice curriculum.
June 13, 2019
Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
Denver, CO
This full-day workshop introduces participants to the Early Childhood Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education and the Project Learning Tree Early Childhood Guide. The Guidelines for Excellence comprise a set of best practices for developing and administering high-quality, early childhood environmental education programs while the PLT Guide includes more than 130 experiences that engage young children in outdoor exploration and play. The overall goal of the workshop is to provide participants with the training and tools to ensure a firm foundation for new environmental education programs or to trigger improvements in existing ones. Participants will receive a copy of the Early Childhood Guidelines for Excellence in EE and the Project Learning Tree Early Childhood Guide.
June 16, 2019 to June 21, 2019
Camp Pemigewassett
Wentworth, NH
The Nature Instruction Clinic is a unique, national training program that puts Camp Pemigewassett at the forefront of the camping world’s commitment to environmental education. This pre-season, 5½-day-long “Nature Instruction Clinic” is designed for counselors, staff, and instructors at day camps, resident camps, and outdoor education centers. Our goal is to facilitate better programming and instruction in a wide variety of camp and outdoor situations and settings. Each year, the Clinic is designed to meet the specific needs of the participants.
June 22, 2019
Carrie Murray Nature Center
Baltimore, MD
This day-long event is a great primer to help you start your nature-based preschool, childcare, or home-school program. We will discuss a range of topics including business structures, staffing/hiring, curriculum development, insurance, enrollment procedures, partnering with other organizations, and more. We will invite you to submit three questions during registration so we can tailor our presenters specifically to your needs. Breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack will be provided. Most of the session will take place outdoors, so please dress for the weather and bring a canteen.
June 24, 2019 to August 9, 2019
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 ~ Level 1 (open to beginners as well as seasoned teachers/naturalists) June 24 - July 5, 2019 / Bishop, CA OR ​July 15 - 26, 2019 / Santa Barbara, CA --The Metamorphic Course ~ Level 2 (open to graduates of Level 1) July 29 - August 9, 2019 / Santa Barbara, CA

July

July 8, 2019 to July 12, 2019
Waldorf School of Baltimore
Baltimore, MD
We are thrilled to offer a five-day Nature-based Teacher Certification! This 36-hour course provides in-depth study of best practices in nature-based early childhood education to prepare you for meaningful outdoor learning experiences. Whether you are in a formal school or childcare setting or working in a nature or forest preschool, this course is designed to meet the needs of early childhood educators working in any setting. The introductory certification course covers a range of skills and approaches crucial to implementing nature-based early childhood pedagogy.
July 15, 2019 to July 19, 2019
Waldorf School of Baltimore
Baltimore, MD
We are thrilled to offer a five-day Nature-based Teacher Certification! This 36-hour course provides in-depth study of best practices in nature-based early childhood education to prepare you for meaningful outdoor learning experiences. Whether you are in a formal school or childcare setting or working in a nature or forest preschool, this course is designed to meet the needs of early childhood educators working in any setting. The intermediate course is intended for participants who have already completed the intro credential. During the registration process, you have the opportunity to include special topics for deeper study.
July 15, 2019 to July 18, 2019
North Park Village
Chicago, IL
The Forest Playschool is offering educators of all stripes a 20-hour course in Forest School Skills, including supporting unstructured play in a woodland, working with a mixed-age group, facilitating work projects and tool use with kids, and incorporating literacy and numeracy. Click through for complete information and to register!
July 15, 2019 to August 2, 2019
North Branch Nature Center
Montpelier, VT
The ECO Institute has been facilitating outdoor professional development courses for teachers and educators since the summer of 2013. We have trained and worked alongside over 100 teachers who strongly believe that nature has a place in the heart of education. Our work is inspired by the nature kindergartens found in Scandinavia, Forest Schools in the UK, the nature-based mentoring movement, and the teachers and children we work with. Level 1 (July 15-19): Core Routines for Creating Outdoor Classrooms for Early Childhood Educators introduces participants to the core routines that structure a successful outdoor learning and play experience. Level 2 (July 29-Aug 2): Natural History Fundamentals for Educators is designed for educators who have an established routine of learning and exploring outdoors, and who are seeking a deeper understanding of their natural landscape.
July 15, 2019 to August 24, 2019
Hamline University
St Paul, MN
Graduate Continuing Studies Online course--Instructor: Sheila Williams Ridge. Introducing children to nature at a young age is one of the best ways to foster a sense of wonder and stewardship for the natural world. It has also been shown to boost learning and reduce behavior issues in the classroom. Review different ways to integrate nature and the outdoors into the classroom. Evaluate readings, discuss current research, make observations and develop programs or tools of your own. Target audience: non-formal and formal educators K-6. Online login and course information at www.hamline.edu/education/online
July 21, 2019 to July 24, 2019
Lied Lodge and Conference Center
Nebraska City, NE
New ideas, new connections and new inspirations are waiting for you at the 2019 Nature Explore/Outdoor Classroom Project Leadership Institute: Sustaining Ourselves, Sustaining Our Work, Sustaining Our World. Enjoy a great mix of hands-on sessions, discussion groups, nature-based experiences and inspiring social times. Discover new ways to keep your work fresh and growing such as innovative uses of loose parts (and you’ll get to create with them yourselves) and out-of-the-box thinking on appropriate ways to use technology in nature (yes, it really can be done). Gain engaging new ideas for renewing yourself in mind, body and spirit through nature connections. Learn inspiring, yet practical ideas for sustaining our world through practices such as permaculture. Join with our growing network and treat yourself to a time of rest, reflection and rejuvenation that will reinvigorate you for your professional journey.
July 29, 2019 to July 30, 2019
Antioch University New England
Keene, NH
This course will provide teachers with a framework for facilitating play-based learning in the kindergarten classroom. Participants will learn strategies for supporting purposeful-play by establishing clear expectations, providing play prompts, observing children, and designing curriculum that responds to student interests. Classroom design, provisioning of materials, and pacing of the day will also be considered as important components of play-based programs. When teachers leave this course, they will have practiced identifying the learning that occurs during play, and will have seen many samples of ways that they might share these learning journeys with colleagues and families. They will also have a toolbox for using curriculum standards and published programs to inform and guid play based learning experiences.
July 31, 2019 to August 3, 2019
700 Elm Street
Manchester, NH 03101
The Natural Start Alliance's annual conference is the nation's largest professional event for teaching, administration, research, and advocacy in nature-based early learning. Join us on July 31-August 3, 2019, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire for engaging presentations, experiential workshops, site tours, and professional networking with 400 nature-based early childhood professionals from around the country and beyond.

August

August 3, 2019
Manchester, NH
This one-day workshop will help you develop a road map for opening a nature-based or forest preschool. 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.The workshop 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.
August 7, 2019 to August 10, 2019
Juniper Hill School
Alna, ME
Teaching with Nature: An Introduction to Forest Kindergartens is a 4-day summer workshop taught primarily by the school’s founder and director, Anne Stires. Local naturalists and additional teachers are highlighted for key activities and concepts. The workshop will provide participants with a strong baseline from which to delve deeper into outdoor- and community-based schooling for prekindergarten- and kindergarten-aged children. Teaching with Nature is designed as a pre-cursor to Antioch University’s Nature-Based Early Childhood Certificate program.
August 9, 2019 to August 11, 2019
Maple Valley, WA
This year's conference will have a special emphasis on utilizing the US Forest Kindergarten model as a pedagogical foundation. Learn valuable "tools of the trade" for best practices, business strategies, research and advocacy from experts in our field like Niki Buchan, our keynote speaker. Share your own successes and take advantage of networking opportunities within community gatherings throughout the conference. See examples of a program in action through observation of Nature Nuts, the first Cedarsong-accredited school. Sing, create, play, reflect, and connect with us, and leave feeling refreshed and invigorated.
August 12, 2019 to August 16, 2019
Wildflower Learning Community
Chapel Hill, NC
We are thrilled to offer a five-day Nature-based Teacher Certification! This 36-hour course provides in-depth study of best practices in nature-based early childhood education to prepare you for meaningful outdoor learning experiences. Whether you are in a formal school or childcare setting or working in a nature or forest preschool, this course is designed to meet the needs of early childhood educators working in any setting. The introductory certification course covers a range of skills and approaches crucial to implementing nature-based early childhood pedagogy.
August 26, 2019 to August 31, 2019
Farm & Wilderness
Plymouth, VT
The Vermont AoM is a five-day experiential, nature-based training with concurrent programs for ages 0 to 99. The week is facilitated by a veteran leadership team, representing over 90 years of collective experience in nature-based mentoring and culture design. Over 70 staff members from around the US support the experience of the 120 registered participants.

October

October 5, 2019 to October 6, 2019
Boston, MA
The theme of this 2-day conference is "Back in Boston," where the original Kindergarten Movement began almost exactly 150 years ago. Attendees will experience hands-on exploration of Froebel Gifts and Occupations guided by teachers (including Rachel Larimore) who have integrated these methods/materials into public, private, parochial and home-school K-12 educational classrooms. Early bird rates through March 31st!