Exploring a Sense of Place in Nature Conference
Saturday, September 14, 2013 from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM (EDT)
San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Exploring a Sense of Place in Nature:
A Collaborative Nature-Based Childhood Conference
Presented by Live & Learn Early Learning Center
and NH Children in Nature Coalition
with contributions from NH Association for the Education of Young Children
Let’s explore the many ways we can connect children, youth and families with nature right in our own communities. It could be backyards, conservation lands, schoolyards, early childhood centers, city parks or neighborhoods. Spend a full day exploring nature-based education and nature play in action.
7:30-8:00 AM – Registration/breakfast
8:00-9:30 AM – Welcome and Keynote w/ Jeanine Fitzgerald
9:45-11:45 AM – Workshops Session A
11:45-12:45 PM – Lunch/Networking, tours of outdoor classroom
1:00-3:00 PM – Workshops Session P
3:15-4:00 PM – Closing remarks w/ Tracy Kane
4:00-4:15 PM – Reflection and closing
Workshops Session A - 9:45-11:45 AM
A-1 “Teaching Self-Regulation to Young Children”
Jeanine Fitzgerald (follow up to keynote)
Self-regulation is a complex set of skills that exert influence over internal sensations and states. These skills are necessary for consistent performance, behavior and school readiness. Without them, a child may experience a life of chaos characterized by explosiveness, violence, anxiety, substance abuse, impulsivity, hyperactivity, distractibility or mood disorders. This skill development begins at the point of conception and continues into the late twenties. This session examines self-regulatory functions through a developmental lens and offers proven strategies to develop and strengthen them.
A-2 “Sharing the Wonder: Intergenerational, Place-based Natural Science Education in our Schools”
Lisa Purcell, Executive Director, Four Winds Institute
Encouraging a sense of wonder and instilling a sense of place are primary goals of the monthly Four Winds Nature Program workshops presented by adult volunteers in over 100 elementary schools in New England. In this workshop, participants will experience a variety of Nature Program activities for children of all ages. We’ll share strategies for successful field explorations that turn any school yard, nearby park or empty lot into a rich teaching resource. And together we’ll see how place-based natural science can educate and engage the next generation of environmental citizens.
A-3 “Making the Case for Outdoor Time: What the Research says About Nature and Well-Being”
Aislinn Pluta, Writer/Editor/Consultant
Participants of this workshop will gain a research-based understanding of the impacts that nature has on academic, emotional, social, cognitive, and physical development and well-being. Such knowledge can strengthen arguments to increase outdoor time for children, and it can provide renewed zest for expanding access to nature in your personal or professional life. While part of the workshop will focus on sharing the science, there will be interactive elements as well. The program will conclude with a brief introduction to the field of positive psychology, which is concerned with the factors that help people thrive. Some practical applications for using positive psychology in a nature setting will be explored.
A-4 “Nature Play Rx: Our Prescription “Green Time”
Dr. Andrew Jones, Pediatrician, Dartmouth Hitchcock and Anjali Longan, NH Project Learning Tree
Believe it or not, there’s more to the outdoors than bugs and dirt. If you’re curious about all the benefits the great outdoors have to offer and are looking for a way to jump-start your adventures, then this is the workshop for you! Our pediatrician-educator team will guide you in exploring a range of simple, fun activities to engage kids with nature – in field, forest, and stream. Discussions will include what research shows are the benefits of free, unstructured, outdoor play, including positive effects on development, creativity, academic achievement, mental health and leading a healthy lifestyle. We will also cover safety tips and ways to be prepared in any kind of weather.
A-5 “A Second Helping of Nature Games”
Peter Sawtell ASMT, Founder, Seven Rivers Paddling
This workshop follows up last year’s Nature Games. You do not need to have attended last year’s to enjoy and participate this year. Come ready to have fun as you learn lots of new games and strategies to help children and yourself feel comfortable in nature. During this session we will play outdoor games, teaching you how to not only play the games but how to adapt or “naturefy” some classic kids’ games. Our hope is that you will leave with the tools to adapt games and learn different strategies to get even the most apprehensive child immersed in nature and loving it!
A-6 “Storytelling with Nature”
Shawn Middleton, ECEMPWT
Remember the days when you were six or seven years old? Maybe you were lying down on you back in the backward or on a trail when you gazed up at the sky and your imagination ran wild. The clouds, trees, rocks and animals came together with characters and an adventure. Before you knew it, you created a story in your head. This is an inspiring workshop that will bring your class back to nature while learning some incredible storytelling techniques. You will walk away with new nature stories and outside activities to use with your students.
A-7 “Earth Resource: CLAY”
Vicky Anderson, Child Development/Creative Arts in Learning
What is under our feet as we walk a country field or even a backyard? Learn to identify and simple test natural clay in its own locale. Using techniques as the Indians did, bring it round to a workable state ~ create a small item, such as a totem, or container for dried grasses.
Workshops Session P - 1:00-3:00 PM
P-1 “Branching Out with Early Childhood Project Learning Tree”
Anjali Longan, Facilitator and Judy Silverberg, Coordinator, NH Project Learning Tree
This workshop will introduce you to the Project Learning Tree Early Childhood curriculum materials. You will experience a several hands on activities that you can take back to your facility and use right away. It will introduce you to age appropriate materials that help connect children with nature and to early childhood learning goals. This is a sample of a much longer workshop that is available to be conducted to groups of ten or more.
P-2 “Exploring New Hampshire’s Big Backyard: Discovering Nature with Your Families on the Hidden Treasures of NH’s Protected Public Land”
Julia Steed Mawson, Board Member and Dijit Taylor, Executive Director, LCHIP (Land and Community Heritage Investment Program)
Join us for a hands-on, minds-on workshop to explore tricks and resources to make a day in the outdoors with children of any age both fun and memorable. After exploring ways to make the outing more fun, we will introduce you to some places where you can go to enjoy trying out the new ways to have fund in nature, focusing on lands protected with assistance from the New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP).
P-3 "Healing Children's Trauma, Behavioral, Emotional and Learning Struggles Through the Wisdom and Experience of Nature"
Laurie A. Couture, author and Attachment Parenting and Unschooling Coach, and her son, Brycen R. R. Couture
Our society and our planet are witnessing the deleterious affects of what happens when children are disconnected from natural ways of living, playing and growing. Violence, mental illness, addiction, trauma and the myriad of emotional, behavioral and learning struggles that children suffer and witness, are a direct result of our human family's disconnect from nature's wisdom, nature's intent and from nature itself. Rather than nature being the primary modality through which children learn and families connect, nature has been relegated to the status of being just "a nice thing to visit and observe when we have the time". The fact that our technologically advanced, industrialized culture spends most of its time indoors, sedentary, at desks, on couches and in front of screens has only exacerbated the physical, emotional, behavioral, social, neurological and holistic health problems children and adults face.
P-4 “Fairy Houses connect Children with Nature”
Tracy Kane, Author, the Fairy House Series
Enjoy a lively visual program as Tracy reads her book Fairy Houses followed by inspiring photos of fairy houses from simple to elaborate. Then we head outside to create a fairy village made from natural materials to attract fairies and their animal friends. Explore nature’s wonders through this unique and fun activity. For all ages- just bring your creativity and imagination.
P-5 “Teacher Effectiveness”
Lori Harris, Early Childhood Education Consultant and Trainer
Engagement is the key to learning. A child must be truly engaged with the environment and the people in it. This workshop will explore what it means to be an effective teacher who may often be in the background. Engaged and effective teachers support children who are initiating their own learning
P-6 "Leadership Excellence through Engaging Group Challenges"
Gabriel Wallman, Outdoor Educator
Participants in this workshop will be facilitated through a sequence of cooperative games and group challenges. We will work together cooperatively through planning and engagement in challenges. Through discussion, we will identify characteristics of personal and group success.
P-7 “Designed for Outdoor Learning”
David Miner, Outdoor Facilities Manager, Certified Outdoor Classroom Designer
In designing outdoor space over indoor space the scale may change but the purpose should be to provide learning opportunities. Rich, open ended material in well thought out areas can provide that. This workshop will include a walk and discussion through much of Live & Learn’s outdoor area with time to explore possible uses, how and why the space was created.
Johanna Booth-Miner firstname.lastname@example.org
Marilyn Wyzga email@example.com
***NOTE: The entire conference takes place on a 25-acre farm. The terrain is uneven farmland. Please wear appropriate footwear. Not all workshops will be accessible to all abilities. We will make every effort to assist participants to allow access. Please contact us with specific concerns or questions regarding accessibility (firstname.lastname@example.org).
When & Where
Live and Learn Early Learning Center & NH Children in Nature Coalition
The mission of Live & Learn Early Learning Center is to educate children intellectually, physically, emotionally and socially by recognizing individual differences, promoting self-esteem, and fostering respect for others. Our child-centered environment encourages dialogue among participants, essential to the active learning process. We strive to develop an educational partnership among family, Live & Learn and community that works together to maximize the potential of each child.
The NH Children in Nature Coalition was formed in response to recent research that shows kids are spending less time outside than ever before and that this “nature deficit” is having significant negative impacts on physical and mental development. The coalition strives to get children and families back outdoors to explore the natural world by providing information, ideas and support.Our ultimate goal is that New Hampshire families will: 1) Understand and appreciate the many benefits of spending time outdoors. 2) Be inspired to get out and play and enjoy the natural world, in an unstructured way, with their children. 3) Make use of local resources, such as open spaces and the organizations that can enhance the outdoor experience.