Outdoor Teacher Retreat

Saturday, NOVEMBER 9, 2019 

8:30AM - 4:30PM

Woodson Branch Nature School, Marshall, NC

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About this Nature-Based Training    

Situated just outside of Asheville, NC, Woodson Branch Nature School is an idyllic site for an Outdoor Teacher Retreat! Join us as we discover best practices and approaches to nature-based education, while nestled in the mountains. Presenters share insights and activities based on their work in nature preschools, forest kindergartens, or other nature-based programs.


This training is ideal for educators, caregivers, and others working with children three to six years old. Attendees work in all kinds of settings, from nature-based schools and forest kindergartens to public schools, traditional preschools, HeadStart programs, childcare centers, daycare, and more. Light breakfast and lunch are included, but bring your canteen for drinks. 

ERAFANS will provide a professional development certificate at the conclusion of the event. Please dress for the weather, as at least 50% of this event will take place outdoors, and don't forget your canteen!

Schedule of Workshops

Woodslore, Weeds, Useful Wild Plants, and Tales on the Trail
Doug Elliot, Naturalist, Herbalist, Storyteller
With Doug as our guide we will roam nearby trails and acquaint ourselves with various useful and interesting wild plants, observe the birds, insects, and other critters, learn some of their tracks, their calls and their ways as well as the traditional legends, lore, stories, and songs associated with them.

Nature Engagement Methods
West Willmore, Rainbow Institute

We all have a stake in caring for this Earth – in some cases it is a religious value, in others a moral responsibility or a matter of equity. If we want children to connect with and protect the Earth, then it is not enough to teach them the species of bird or the name of the flower, we must empower them to listen to the bird’s stories and find the beauty of the flower within themselves.

Research attests that quality time in nature supports the holistic growth and development of humans. According to David Sobel, education faculty at Antioch University New England and author of multiple books on childhood and nature, “What everybody wants to see are kids that are more centered, more self-directed, more emotionally stable, more physically active, and know how to take initiative. If we have a more nature-balanced education, those are the things we’re going to see in kids.” At RCS, nature plays a central role as teacher while the natural world becomes a critical learning environment, and the natural domain is one of our Seven Learning Domains around which all of our holistic curriculum and programming is built. 

In this 2-hour workshop, we will focus on specific pedagogical practices that support the integration of the natural domain into the classroom culture and curriculum. We will also take a close look at the scope and sequence of the nature education program. This program is research-based and built on the learning characteristics of three primary child development stages and likewise, proposes three nature engagement methods. Through a blend of experiential learning, self and group reflection, and dialogue we will explore various rituals, activities, and practices that emphasize the natural domain and the nature engagement methods. All workshop participants will be provided with a resource packet complete with activity descriptions, the scope and sequence of the RCS’s nature education program, and supporting research. Please be prepared for indoor and outdoor activities.

Exploring Nature Freely While Staying ‘Safe’   
Rachel Marietta, Mountain Breeze Preschool
One of the most amazing benefits of being in nature is the freedom and expansion we feel in our hearts and minds. Nature is the imagination's playground. When we step out of a traditional classroom there are so many advantages, and some risks, and at times boundaries need to be created to help manage our safety. In this workshop we will share some of the creative and playful ways we have established these boundaries without risking our children's connection and playfulness in nature. If there is an interest in licensing requirements, we can also discuss ways to have a successful outdoor program and meet licencing requirements. 

Crafting Stories from Nature     
Doug Elliot, Naturalist, Herbalist, Storyteller
We are all a part of the natural world and our lives are profoundly affected by nature.  The natural world provides a common meeting place as well as a source of inspiration for storytellers. Elliott will demonstrate how one can craft stories celebrating our human connection to nature by incorporating personal experience, family reminiscences, folklore, natural history, traditional mythology and humor. He will also give hints as to how one can incorporate dialog and dialect into a story and help participants develop their own stories.

Author, Gardener, Artist, Environmentalist, Scientist
Deborah DeLisle, Woodson Branch Nature School                      

Join the team at Woodson Branch Nature School to learn how their kindergarten infuses farm, art, and forest concepts into a developmentally appropriate curriculum.

With Leaves and Sticks
We love all things trees! This networking session offers a mellow way to try some fun activities with leaves and sticks while you continue great conversations with other participants you've met today.

Ready to join us? REGISTER NOW!

Learn more about our payment and refund policies here. Thank you for joining us!


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