In-Person Sessions

Browse a list of sessions from the in-person event in Cincinnati.

The 2022 Nature-Based Early Learning Conference was held in Cincinnati, Ohio at the Graduate Cincinnati Hotel. In-person events took place between Wednesday, July 27, and Saturday, July 30.

3 Miles-an-Hour: Walking In Step with Wonder 

Presenter: Abraham Underhill

A child's first step is a celebrated milestone, but the joy of walking quickly fades in our speed-obsessed world. Rekindle your appreciation for this basic human activity and learn how to lead your class safely through the urban landscape on year-round explorations.

Branching Out: University of Delaware Lab School Brings an Urban Nature Model to Wilmington Head Start

Presenters: Katie Pollock, Dorit Radnai-Griffin

What started as professional development became much more. A seed was planted in the hearts of each Wilmington Head Start teacher and administrator, and change began to take place. An urban nature model will be shared in this session in hopes that others can build access for all.

Bushwhacking: Untethered and Holistic Learning for Children 6-12

Presenters: Dr. Jean Lomino, Joe Pounds

"How does nature-based learning work for elementary-age children? How does child-directed learning correlate with academic skill development?” These are leading questions as schools expand the use of outdoor learning spaces. Discover how emergent learning integrates seamlessly with academic subjects.

Connecting Nature and Writing with Mentor Texts

Presenter: Emily Morgan

The author of the "Next Time You See" picture book series will share a Mentor Text Study that guides students through the process of writing their own "Next Time You See" book about a natural object of their choice.

Considering the Seen and Unseen: Examining the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Social-Emotional Development of Preschoolers

Presenters: Rachel Konerman, Erman Nie, Jennifer Horwitz

Research findings examining preschool children's social-emotional development and teacher adaptations during the pandemic will be shared. Together, we will reflect upon our experiences, share ideas and resources, and connect with each other to strengthen our practices and expand our networks.

Embracing the Forest’s Gifts in Forest School    

Presenter: Lori Ann Wilde

Learn to prepare drinks and crafts from wild plants commonly available to harvest within natural forest school settings, as well as ethical and safety considerations for doing so with children.

Empowering Young Conservation Advocates Without the ‘Doom and Gloom’

Presenters: Laura Seger, Kelsey Navin, Sarah Ghidina

Inspiring children to be stewards of the earth is possible without overwhelming them with the weight of climate change and environmental justice issues. Join us to discuss how we empower children to make positive change in the world without burdening them with details that are not age-appropriate.

Field Guide to Risky Play

Presenters: Linda Charlton

Let’s walk and find some risky play spaces & imagine kids playing. What risks are they taking? What is the benefit of those risks, especially for girls? How can we respond to risky play to help kids safely engage? Let’s craft experiences that meet the needs of children, teachers, and parents.

Freedom Dreaming: Using Art and Storytelling to Reimagine Communities of Color in Nature Education

Presenters: Deja Jones, Islah Tauheed

We will develop strategies for closing inequities that exist between children's lack of access to nature. Through art and literacy, we broaden the scope of environmental education. Participants will use art and storytelling as reflective tools to foster student expression of sustainable futures.

From Seeds to Sprouts: Growing Cross-Site Partnerships

Presenters: Brooke Larm, Leigh Rowe

In this session, we will develop new strategies for collaborative teaching approaches, documentation, and site assessment by exploring the journey of a partnership between early childhood public school teachers, administrators, and environmental educators to take learning outdoors.

Guide Notes: Song as a Tool for Transitions, Guidance, and Differentiation

Presenters: Heather Quinn

Heather Quinn will speak to why transition support is important and how to use song as “the great differentiator” across diversities. We will convey original songs, tools, and the GuideNotes method to create a culture of joy, acceptance, self-love, and grit in nature-based learning.

"I Speak for the Trees" Study Unit using an Integrated Project-Based Learning Approach for Preschool-Second Grade

Presenter: Evelyn "Eppie" Miller

This informative workshop uses the Integrated Project-Based Learning Approach (IPBL) to teach students in preschool through second grade about trees through the lens of literature, written expression, math, science, history, geography, mindfulness, motor activities, as well as artistic expression.

Instilling a Sense of Place in Young Children Through Native Species Studies

Presenters: Meg Gravil, Rachel Patton

Help children develop a sense of place through learning about species that live in their geographic spaces. This presentation focuses on how to provide opportunities to engage children in learning about animals that live alongside them through species-specific ‘research.’

Intentional School Business Planning for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Presenters: Rachel Larimore, David Catlin

At the end of the process of starting a school, many founders realize they have not accounted for diversity, equity, and inclusion as they'd hoped. This session will focus on the nature-based school business planning process with a particular focus on how to address DEI goals along the way.

Loose Parts and Nature Play "Starts" to Enhance Social-Emotional Learning

Presenter: Carla Gull

Join fellow educators to explore social-emotional learning in a nature play, loose parts rich environment. Have a hands-on opportunity to evaluate connected books and “starts” to build social-emotional skills in your setting. Be ready to discuss challenges and applications with fellow educators!

Monarch Butterflies in the Classroom

Presenter: Amy Wolfe

Monarch butterflies’ unique life cycle and accessibility in the local landscape make them an excellent focus for classroom study. Learn how to get started and what your students can learn from the project.

Nature Babies

Presenter: Karyssa Tilden

This session will provide the tools and information needed to create a strong nature babies program for your school and the community around you. Join us as we explore and sit in baby development and how that relates to the outdoors.

Nature Play When Nature Ain’t Playin Around

Presenter: Kyla Maciosek

Live in a place that’s not sunny and 75 all year round? Come learn how play in adverse environments promotes resilience and supports academic standards, creativity, physical wellbeing, and more. Walk away with ideas on how to make children and parents comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Navigating the Different Possibilities Walking into Your Program with Nature

Presenters: Meredith Florkey, Johnna Lyman

Seasoned special education teachers and experienced nature preschool teachers will lead participants from theory to practice. Together we will support teachers’ navigation of all the children walking into their programs and help them empower our youth to navigate their natural environments.

Opening One Heart at a Time: ECE Student Teachers' Nature Journey at UD Lab School

Presenters: Katie Pollock, Kristen Chandler

Showcasing student teachers' growth over time at the University of Delaware Lab School through photos and videos will allow participants to visualize an increase in comfort and knowledge. Continuing relationships once they leave ensures non-nature enthusiasts have a huge impact on the greater community.

Organizing Your Outdoor Lessons with The Learning Lifecycle

Presenters: Jenny James, Lea Ann Christenson

Join a discussion about The Learning Lifecycle, where we will discover how early childhood theorists and indigenous peoples' ideas support this exciting process of child-led learning. Learn new ways to organize and reflect on your lessons through experiences, wonder, STEM, and creative expression.

Partnering with Nature: Teaching with Intention

Presenters: Patti Bailie, Catherine Koons Hubbard

In this session, we will share the intentions we have developed for the Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool and how we apply them to our nature-based program. We hope to inspire participants to discover the intentions at the heart of their curriculum and how they can guide their daily decision-making.

Urban-Based Nature Education: How the Study of Animal Scat Developed a Community of Learning During Pandemic Preschool

Presenter: Hanna Berwanger

Explore the principles of project work and the affordances it offers in urban-based nature education. A classroom teacher will share how she supported children's study of animal scat, the development of community it offered, and practical ways to incorporate this into any classroom, even in a pandemic.

Program in a Park

Presenters: Sarah Bethel, Stacy Niemiec

This session will provide participants with a model for creating an outdoor program in an urban public space. Using our school as an example, we will explore how to set up a program as well as how to create a high-quality outdoor experience that complements an existing early childhood program.

Slow Down to Speed Up…Teach Off Trail

Presenter: Peter Dargatz

With pressure to reach academic milestones at earlier ages, education is taking a quantity over quality approach. While students are learning more, are they learning to be successful beyond standardized tests? By teaching off trail, we can slow down education and speed up our whole child successes.

So Many Standards, So Little Time: Prioritizing Outdoor Play in a World of Preschool Regulations

Presenter: Rachel Franz

Early learning is more regulated than ever. And while we want all kids to access high-quality preschool, it can feel like we’re drowning in licensing standards, funding requirements, and more. In this session, discover how to meet standards while prioritizing outdoor play and anti-bias ECE practice.

Studying Identity Through the Lens of a Field Guide

Melissa Jackson, Carey Vincent

We will explore how to use nature field guides to study the concept of identity with young children. Field guides help children learn to identify and describe the wonders of nature. By creating a field guide to describe themselves, children can represent who they are on the outside and inside.

Teaching Tomorrow's Leaders: Uncovering the Lasting Relationship Between Nature-Based Early Learning Experiences & Preadolescents' Sustainable Mindsets

Presenter: Ann Rossmiller

This research presentation reveals which attributes of nature-based early learning experiences are linked to the development of a sustainable mindset later in life and suggests ways these findings can influence program development and access for all children.

Tech Tools in Teachable Moments

Presenter: Becca Mathews

Technology may seem like an imposing force on our society, something that kids need less of. But with the right tools, it can be an excellent way to help teach. Learn about some of Becca’s favorite smartphone apps to use in the field with kids; uniting their natural curiosity in the outdoors while tapping into their love of technology. Whether on a hike in the woods, or on the school playground, these apps are sure to create teachable moments.

The 3 Ps of Tracking: Exploring Animal Tracks with Children

Presenters: Dr. Leig h Ann Fish, Dr. Patti Bailie

Come track with us! Explore fun, hands-on ways to introduce animal tracks to children using the three Ps: print, pattern, and placement. We'll look at individual footprints, animal track patterns, and placement, as ways children can investigate animals that live in their local areas.

The Healing Power of Environmental Education: A Safe Place to Explore

Presenter: Rina Zampieron

The power of nature can provide a safe retreat for our youngest learners. Access to the environment provides support for a child’s resiliency by incorporating trauma-informed care. Nature has the power to guide children through major life events and help them to emerge emotionally healthier. Together, we will explore what we can learn from nature's healing power and how it can help us support children's well-being.

Tinkering with Science, Nature & Loose Parts

Presenters: Kathleen Sheridan, Diann Gano MEd, David Banzer, MEd

This session will use natural materials to introduce and extend children’s science knowledge through activities that are based in tinkering and play. We will explore connections between open-ended play, science concepts, and nature-based loose parts inside and outside of early childhood classrooms.

Transformative Pedagogies for Infusing Early Childhood Education for Sustainability (ECEfS) into Nature Play Programs

Presenters: Victoria W Carr, Sue Elliott, Fran Hughes, Leslie Kochanowski

Explore and discuss how ECEfS in nature’s settings can shift practice toward transformative pedagogies. Employ critical reflection to see nature experiences as more than sensory encounters and environmental stewardship. Contemplate how ethical worldviews envision children’s sustainable futures.

Trees & Me: Tangible Tools to Implement Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practices

Presenters: Gia Giammarinaro, Linda Petit

This fun and engaging session focuses on a new, nature-based preschool resource, Trees & Me. Experience activities, observe demonstrations, and explore 10 connections to practices promoted within the Natural Start Alliance’s Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook. Beginners welcome!

Using the NABERS Tool to Identify the Quality of Nature-Based Programs

Presenters: Rachel Larimore, Patti Bailie

The Nature-Based Education Rating Scale (NABERS) is a tool developed to help identify the “natureness” for Pre-K and K-3 programs. The session will address the quality practices in the tool related to program structure, staffing, physical environment, community partnerships, and family engagement.

What's in Your Wagon? A Practical Toolkit for a Day in the Forest

Presenter: Rachel Parker

This session will provide all the information needed to create a traveling forest classroom for young children. You will be given material lists and ideas for extending your forest play so that you are not tied to an indoor setting.

You Are Ready to Move to a Nature-Based Program...Now What?

Presenter: Emily Howard

Does the idea of moving your program outside seem both exciting and daunting? Come join us as we walk through how we turned our 3-acre urban property into an urban forest and community garden. Bring pictures, ideas, and questions, and let's brainstorm your new space together!