Training is ideal for educators working with children ages 3-8 years old. Attendees join from all kinds of early learning settings - from nature-based programs and schools to traditional public schools, childcare centers, daycare, HeadStart, and home school settings. Light breakfast and lunch are included on Saturday, but bring your canteen for drinks.
In addition to a wonderful slate of workshops, our hosts at the Boston Nature Center and Pathways to Nature Preschool will open up their preschool to preview their indoor learning environments, and we will have plenty of time to explore the wildlife sanctuary and grounds.
We would like to extend a special thank you to our partners at the Nature Center Preschool at the South Shore Natural Science Center and Pathways to Nature Preschool for making this Outdoor Teacher Retreat possible!
Training is pending MA training approval. 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!
Keynote: School to Farm to Community: A Journey Towards Teaching Critically and Sustainably, with Equity and Diversity in Mind, Mary Cowhey
Mary Cowhey describes her teaching journey with young children and their families, intertwined with community organizing. She describes projects that braid partnerships between teachers, parents, students, local farmers, public health advocates and a variety of community organizations to tackle issues of race, class and access to healthy food. These include bringing students and families into the school garden, into community gardens on onto local farms, out to farmers markets and then bringing mobile markets and subsidized farm shares into neighborhoods and the school. Mary Cowhey shares lessons learned through years of community organizing: building relationships, listening to families to identify needs and brainstorm solutions, learning from success and challenge, developing community leaders, exploring power and privilege, and tapping into the wisdom and experience of families.
There are several concurrent sessions, some offered more than once. We know it's hard to choose!
Registration and light breakfast (bring your canteen!)
Keynote: School to Farm to Community: A Journey Towards Teaching Critically and Sustainably, Mary Cowhey
See description above.
Close Encounters: Making the Most of Children's Encounters with Animals
Rina Zamperion and Jill Canelli, Mass Audubon Drumlin Farm Community Preschool
Most folks who work with children know that children are drawn to animals. They recognize the intrinsic value of animals "simply because they are living creatures, they are important" (Patty Born Selly). Odds are if you are an environmental educator, you and your students will have opportunities to share experiences that involve animals. Whether your class has backyard chickens, is raising turtles for release or happens upon a flock of wild turkeys when out for a walk, encounters with the animal kingdom will capture the curiosity and excitement of your students. This session will focus on how to make the most of these experiences, both those that are planned and those that happen naturally as part of daily explorations.
Nests, Beaks, and Tweets
Hilary Johansen-Silve, Boston Nature Center, Pathways to Nature Preschool
This workshop is intended for educators who are interested in teaching children about birds. During our time together, we will investigate the forms and functions of various beaks, examine and build nests, dissect owl pellets, and learn different songs and calls. Through our explorations, we will address common questions folks have about birds while passing on curriculum activities that engage all young learners.
Making Your Program More Welcoming and Responsive to Queer Families Kendra Bucklin
Can a princess marry a princess? Can only boys use the urinal? Discuss with other educators their answers to these sensitive questions, review relevant terms, and find out how to be more welcoming of gender expansive behavior in your classroom.
Sparrows, Squirrels, and Street Trees - Oh My!
Chelsea Guiterrez, Boston Nature Center, Pathways to Nature Preschool
Do you remember the first time you saw a bird nest in your neighborhood or found a special rock on your front lawn? There are many exciting nature experiences children can have on walk around a city block. This workshop will provide observational tools, activity ideas, and management techniques as you explore the wildlife in your own city.
Running a Homegrown Nature-Based Program
Rhonda Pollock, Pollywogs Nature Playschool
Discover the distinct perspective of running a Nature-based program with a family daycare license. Are you currently running a family daycare but want to incorporate more of a nature-based pedagogy? Are you looking to start up a nature-based daycare program? Resources will be provided for those considering starting their own program or adding nature-based approaches to their existing program.
12:30-1:15 p.m. Lunch with informal optional preschool tour and Mary Cowhey book signing
Nature Connection Mentoring
Amy Beal and Jamie Walker, White Pines Programs, ME
Get fully immersed in the Nature Connection Mentoring ("NCM") approach! We will go out in the field (in small groups) to experience a variety of core routines that make up the essence of NCM, which have proven to offer the most benefits for this age range. Afterwards, we will debrief about our experience as a large group, pulling out the why, and deepening the how of the various activities, illustrating how these routines fit together in our model. (Literature reference will be made to Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature by Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Evan McGown.)
Do Spiders Fart and Other Ponderings from the Schoolyard
Kathy Clunis D'Andrea and Ashleigh L'Heureux, Mission Hill School
Attendees will spend time in nature, make connections to their discoveries, and think about ways to connect that work to the work of the inside classroom as well.
Evaluating Your Program: Do Outcomes Reflect Your Mission?
Emily Cherkin, Mass Audubon Boston Nature Center
Participants will learn more about evaluating environmental education programs beyond QRIS, EEC, and other state standards. Preview a program evaluation tool used by Pathways to Nature Preschool, including components like mission and vision statements, logic model, evaluation plan, program rationale, interview questions, and the results. Group discussion and resources will also help participants gain confidence in their program evaluation methods.
Delighting the Senses with Herbs
Karen First, Ipswich River Nature Preschool
Are you looking for guidance on planting and growing an herb garden? Then you've come to the right session! We will share many herbal sensory experiences we've offered children including: mixing and crushing herbs for tea bags and home-made bug repellents, using herbs for good smelling sachets and "tussie mussies" and adding herbs to lotions and cooking projects.
Storytelling in Nature
Rachel Grinstead-Babson, Ipswich River Nature Preschool
Stories help us understand the natural world and our relationships to the earth. In this session, participants will learn oral story telling tips and techniques as well as story telling games to share with young children. Rachel will also share her work as the "Kamishibai Lady Storyteller". Kamishibai is a unique storytelling experience from Japan that tells a story from far away, but often feels very close to home.
Mandala Meditation & Self-Care
Liz Kenney, Nature Center Preschool at South Shore Natural Science Center
Self care is key to us as teachers and caregivers. Self awareness is vital to cultivating a regular practice of self care. Mandala meditation is a creative way of focusing inward and allowing your mind and body to enter into a contemplative state of stillness, awareness and peace. The mandala represents many things from wholeness, balance, connectedness to life energy. This practice of mandala painting is a creative method of reconnecting with oneself and restoring inner balance which allows us to reflect and refuel as educators.
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