Saturday, April 14, 2018 
Frog Pond Early Learning Center
Alexandria, Virginia

About this Retreat REGISTER NOW!
This retreat explores how children develop a foundation of academic skills and values through playful nature-based learning. Presenters share insights and activities based on their work in nature preschools, forest kindergartens, or other nature-based preschool programs. This event is for educators, child care providers, and administrators who serve children ages 3-6 years old. Light breakfast and lunch are included, but please bring your canteen for drinks. You can indicate dietary restrictions when you register.


Our schedule is packed with hands-on, outdoor workshops including a Forest School Maker Space and an outdoor potty "show-and-tell".  Dress for the weather and don't forget your canteen! (See complete workshop descriptions below.)

About Our Keynote
Morgan Occhuizzo is an Assistant Principal for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Virginia. She has worked in the field of education for over fifteen years. Prior to teaching she worked for Penn State University as an elementary science curriculum specialist. She has also served as a teacher of the gifted in the elementary classroom and as a resource teacher to the gifted. She is involved in elementary education environmental outreach in the Northern Virginia area and is passionate about bringing natural experiences to all learners.

Keynote Description

Creating a Nature based learning Environment in a Public School Setting
Learn how you can create outdoor learning opportunities while juggling state and local standards, recruiting specialists, and sourcing curriculum to run a meaningful nature-based program within a public school setting.

Workshop Descriptions

Natural Play Spaces for Children
Pam Tinker and Staff, Frog Pond Early Learning Center

Natural play spaces enhance creativity, sense of place, connection with nature, understanding of geography, topography, and how habitats work – and so much more! Pam Tinker, Founder of Frog Pond Early Learning Center, will discuss the philosophy behind spaces at Frog Pond ELC with names like the Cherry Pink Space, Grandmother Oak Tree, Toad Mountain, and Goat Alley. We will explore how children utilize these natural spaces and ways families can help create their own place-based folklore and history.

Making Learning Visible in Forest & Nature Schools
Emma Huvos, Riverside Nature School, WV
“So all you do is play outside?” If you’re in this field, chances are you’ve heard that question more times than you can count. Whether you’re trying to enroll new students, secure grant funding, convince administrators to get on board, or simply explain what you do at a cocktail party, you won’t want to miss this comprehensive overview of ways to make learning visible through photo, video, and authentic documentation of student work. We’ll leave time for group discussion and individual planning, ensuring that all participants walk away inspired and ready to put their learning into action. 

Outdoor Learning for Pre-K - 1st Grade in a Public Elementary School
Christy Przystawik, Campbell Elementary School, Arlington Public Schools, VA
Join us as we observe, demonstrate, and discuss ideas for outdoor learning at the PreK-1st grade levels. Walk away with confidence, ideas, and inspiration for your school or classroom.

Observing Tiny Creatures & Terrarium How-To
Peggy Ashbrook, National Science Teachers Association, VA
First hand observation of the tiny creatures who inhabit our school yards and natural areas nurtures children’s developing science understandings and promotes curiosity about the lives of “others.” Make these observations yourself, learn which common Mid-Atlantic creatures are safe for children to hold and how to help them survive weeks of handling, and see examples of terraria stocked with tiny local fauna.

A Right, Not A Privilege 
Emma Huvos, Riverside Nature School, WV
Outdoor play and exploration should be an integral party of every child’s early educational experience, but to make that a reality, we have to think outside the box of traditional forest and nature schools. In this session we’ll explore the broad range of potential stakeholders for the nature play movement and look at potential partnerships to help bring forest school practices into the public arena. We’ll talk compromise, collaboration, and complications and leave time for group discussion and individual planning, ensuring that all participants walk away inspired and ready to put their learning into action.  

Forest School Maker Space
This open-ended time can be used to participate in demonstrations from 1-2 p.m. and to create and share materials used in your forest or nature-based program. Three strands include: outdoor potty show-and-tell (plan to share yours!), games and tools made with sticks and stones, and natural dyes and weaving from a spinning wheel.

Rough-housing and Risk
Jim McCullough, Adventure Walkers, VA
Embracing play means accepting some degree of chaos and anarchy. And while this uncontrollable energy is often present in all forms of true play, it shows up dramatically when children engage in rough-housing and risk-taking. In this session you will be privy to a series of video clips of kids engaging in all manner rough-housing and/or risky play. Then we will head outdoors for our own rough-and-tumble play!

Sensory Deprivation and the Nature Cure
Ann Marie Douglass, Nature Club Kids, MD

Do you remember being told not to sit so close to the TV and to "go outside and play!"?  Screen time norms have shifted greatly at home, school, and around our town and across the globe.  Let's discuss the unintended consequences of today's technology, and how nature connection and outdoor project-based learning can grow healthier learners.

Connecting with Nature: A Storied Approach Inspires Young Learners
Jessica Sullivan and Katherine Stroh, Boxerwood Nature Center, Lexington, VA

Come see how Boxerwood Nature Center fosters a sense of wonder and connection in the youngest through playful story-based lessons using puppets. With this foundation you will learn how to build science and environmental literacy skills that take students into nature throughout their span of childhood. 

Ready to join us? REGISTER NOW!
You can learn more about our payment and refund policies here. We look forward to meeting you at the Retreat!

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