Online Sessions

Browse the list of online sessions for the 2024 Nature-Based Early Learning Conference.

Posters are included at the bottom of the list. These sessions are all pre-recorded and will be available to view on demand beginning in July 2024. On-demand access will last until July 1, 2025. 

Sessions are subject to change. 


To What Extent Do 3- to 6-Year-Olds Demonstrate Connection to Nature at a Montessori School in the Upper Midwest, and Is Age an Influencing Factor?

Presenter: Dr. Natasha Yates

A commonality that adult environmentalists share is a connection to nature developed in childhood. This mixed-method research investigated children’s connection to nature at a nature-based Montessori school using various data collection tools, including a modified psychological games testing tool.

Advancing Environmental Literacy via Innovative Partnerships

Presenter: Julie Travaglini

In this hands-on session, individuals will learn how Allegheny Land Trust can educate thousands of young children a year on climate and environmental issues by utilizing creative partnerships with utility companies, grocery stores, libraries, and more!

Attachment to Nature as a Path to Climate Advocacy

Presenter: Sarah Stone

How do we foster a love and connection to the Earth in decision-makers so they will make decisions with environmental sustainability in mind? Dr. Stone sets forth a theory and practicum for how to foster adult attachment to nature by guiding through developmental stages from infancy to adulthood.

Raising Nature Heroes: Bringing Climate Justice to Our Youngest Learners

Presenter: Rina Zampieron

Climate change affects us all, but not equally; the worst impacts are felt by marginalized communities. This is everyone’s problem to solve! We'll explore real examples of kids coming together to make a meaningful change, and how you as a teacher can support your students in taking action.

12 Months of Thoughtful Provocations

Presenter: Jennifer Stratton

Discover how you can stimulate curious learning for your students in 12 Months of Thoughtful Provocations. Use loose parts and manipulatives integrated with kinesthetic applications to learn and implement new ways to inspire your little explorers.

Patterns and Shapes of Nature with Fibonacci

Presenters: Danette Riehle, M. Ed., Andrew Riehle

There are patterns in the movements, songs, colors, and shapes of nature. Explore number patterns and geometric shapes, crack codes, learn Native Peoples’ history, and create a Golden Spiral and literary art. Inspire our future inventors through observation and discovery using your outdoor living classroom.

Exploring Social-Emotional Learning Through Nature-Focused Children’s Literature

Presenter: Emma Donnelly

Participants will learn about children’s picture books that address nature topics through the seasons and social-emotional learning, then practice applying a social-emotional framework to classic, nature-themed books during hands-on, small-group discussions.

Rethinking Sustainability with Reconciliation: Lessons from Indigenous Learning

Presenter: Jade Berrill

Join this workshop to participate in a hands-on, story-led puppet show featuring Indigenous stories that will enable you to reflect on how you can frame sustainability practices for early childhood, with more inclusive language that offers reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Turtle Island.

A Unique Business Model for a Forest Preschool That Brings Access and Advantages to Many

Presenters: Kristin Lucas, Clair Purcell

Business models aren’t at the top of mind for most educators, but thinking creatively about these aspects of a program is key for getting a successful program off the ground. The founders of Fox Hollow Forest School will share how they began their school with a true sense of purpose.

Nurturing Nature: A Holistic Exploration of Establishing a Forest School Curriculum

Presenter: Nicoletta (Niki) Christodoulou

A pioneering effort to establish a forest school curriculum, aligning with a national preschool curriculum. By documenting the process and capturing the perspectives of educators, parents, and children, the aim is to contribute valuable insights toward a holistic and nature-centric ECE curriculum.

Nature-Based Learning for Teacher Wellbeing

Presenters: Annette Schmidt

Research and experience tell us that outdoor nature-based learning (NBL) supports student wellbeing. However, little research explores the impact of outdoor NBL on teacher wellbeing. Through a review of research, presentation of new findings, and discussion, this session will explore this topic.

The Nature Gap: What We Can Do to Advance Outdoor Equality for Children in the United States

Presenter: Kasey Johnson

It is proven that when children connect to nature and gardening at an early age, it has a profound impact on their mental and physical well-being. Exploring the environment in a child's neighborhood can cultivate a life-long appreciation for nature and can rebuild communities. In the United States there is a disparity that impacts communities of color and low-income households, denying them the physical, social, and emotional benefits of spending time in nature. In my presentation, I will discuss the disparity in further detail and outline ways we can come together and help close the nature gap. 

It Started with One “Yes”: The Journey of One Urban Child Care Center to Include Forest Experiences for Preschool Children

Presenters: Robin Lewis, Linda Hestenes, Blenda Luize Chor Rodrigues, Miranda L. Denham, Savannah Searcy, Amy Wrathe

This session focuses on one urban childcare center’s journey to include a forest experience for preschool children. Come learn how this full-day childcare center with diverse families was altered over two years into an extraordinary nature-based experience that enhanced children’s and families’ lives.

A Child's Nervous System: The Keystone of Inclusive Nature Play

Presenter: Jena Ponti Jauchius

The “success” of children's environments can be reduced to one single factor: a child’s nervous system. We'll explore the critical importance of sensory environments, children’s 7 senses, and how tailored play and learning environments support the sensory needs of all kids, especially the neurodiverse.

The Alameda Woodland Learning Initiative

Presenters: Sally Stevens, Anita Montoya, Melissa Berg

The Alameda Elementary School Woodland Initiative is a unique collaboration between an urban elementary school based in Albuquerque, NM, and a seasoned public school educator (now forest school founder and director). Together we hold the vision of bringing a model of forest school learning to the masses.

He's Coming to Say Hello to You: The Role of Teacher Talk on Child-Animal Relations

Presenters: Patty Born

Learn how adult interactions, discourse, and behavior impact children's relationships with animals, whether intentionally or not. In this session, we'll explore "pedagogies of care" for practitioners to support animal-child interactions for thriving, mutually beneficial relationships.

Thinking Sustainably: Skills Children Need in a Changing World

Presenter: Rachel Tidd

Students need new ways of thinking to solve problems in a changing world. Three sustainability thinking skills are introduced: systems, futures, and values. Learn how to integrate these into your curriculum using the place/environment as context.

From Theory to Practice: Unpacking the Pedagogical Principles of Early Childhood Education for Sustainability

Presenters: Leslie Kochanowski, Rachel Konerman

Early Childhood Education for Sustainability (ECEfS) provides a transformative framework for nature-based early learning. Join us to explore more about this theory, discuss examples from the Arlitt Child Development Center, and engage in dialogue to gain insights from diverse settings.

WILD Passport: A 5-Year Progression Curriculum for Woodland Skills

Presenter: Rachel Parker

Come learn about the WILD Passport curriculum, the first commercially available Outdoor Learning Skills Progression framework, and how it can support your programs, while also picking up a few basic skills yourself!

In Dialogue: Infants, Toddlers, and Nature

Presenters: Jennifer Kesselring, Dr. Laura Wilhelm

Nature affords endless invitations for inquiry, experimentation, and discovery. This workshop will share stories of infants and toddlers immersed in nature and offer participants provocation to engage with natural materials in interesting and innovative ways.

Planning to Plan: Collaboration and Planning in Child-Led School Settings

Presenter: Tara Brighten

When your lesson plans are created from observation and reflection of your students' interests, your planning time can be intimidating. This workshop offers strategies to help educators plan and prepare effectively in nature-based, early childhood settings.

You Let My Kid Do WHAT? How to Support Caregivers When You Allow Risky Play

Presenter: April Greibrok

As nature educators, we know risky play in nature offers many benefits to children. For some parents, allowing their child to engage in risky play causes anxiety. This session aims to give teachers the tools they need to support adults in understanding the important benefits of this type of play.

Nature Play Cart: Connecting to Nature and Inspiring the Maker

Presenter: Jen Braunstein

Learn how to roll out a “Nature Play Cart” in your classroom or school. Based on Simon Nicholson's Theory of Loose Parts, the traveling Nature Play Cart allows students to get hands-on with nature when playing and learning indoors.

Nature Detectives: Engage Imagination and Creativity

Presenter: Janice Kelley

This demonstration shares video showing how Nature Detectives in K-3rd grade engage in activities to connect art, science, and literacy using three seasonal themes. Using nature journals as a foundational practice to improve observation, problem-solving, and other key skills will also be discussed.

Making Watercolors with Natural Materials

Presenter: Jessica Winston

Put away the sequins, glitter, and glue sticks that are clogging our planet with plastic, and learn two easy ways to make watercolor paints using natural materials. Making watercolor paints is a fun activity, with its roots in science and math. No student is too young or too old to learn!

Nature-Based Early Childhood Educators’ Perspectives on Embracing Fire as a Loose Part

Presenters: Dr. Carla Gull, Dr. Tricia Rosengarten, Dr. Suzanne Levenson Goldstein

This study explores rules, restrictions, safety practices, and opportunities associated with embracing fire as a loose part and examines the benefits and risks associated with fire play from early childhood educator perspectives.

Advancing Teacher and Family Support in Nature Preschool

Presenters: Jenna Callam, Vicki Sturtevant

Outdoor Discovery Center Preschools utilize innovative approaches to support families and teachers in our school community. In this session, you will learn about three positions created to serve the families and teachers in our multiple schools: Support Services, Preschool Naturalist, and Nature-based Curriculum Coach.

Prioritizing Equity Through a Weighted Lottery

Presenter: Madeline Cole

Fiddleheads staff prioritizes children who have a high need for an outdoor preschool, based on the racial and equity components of applicants' neighborhoods, referrals, and tuition assistance needs.  Join Maddie Cole for a demonstration of the factors and procedures used in this weighted lottery.

Researching Connections Between Hierarchical Decision-Making, Outdoor Pedagogical Leadership, and a Sense of Belonging in Early Childhood Education

Presenter: Dr. Jayne Kinley

This presentation covers the influence of hierarchical workplace decision-making on the successful implementation of a new Outdoor Educator (OE) role in an Australian ECE setting and the implications for an OE’s sense of belonging and identity when equitable and inclusive consultation is absent in role construction.

Informal Sources of Environmental Education: How Young Children in the Galapagos Islands Benefit from Solo Exploration, Family, and Community Members to Build Local Ecological Knowledge

Presenter: Amelia Farber

Learn how young children living and growing up in the Galápagos Islands build local ecological knowledge and pro-environmental values by interacting with informal learning experiences and sources on the islands. These children’s voices help us understand how to support local environmental education.

Capturing Young Children’s Voices of Experiences in Their Own Outdoor Spaces Using Hermeneutic Phenomenology

Presenter: Jill McGowan

Tired of using case studies or narrative qualitative methods when researching with young children? This session will discuss the hermeneutic phenomenological methods used during a study conducted with young children, ages three to five years old, and their experiences in their own outdoor spaces.

Let's Go Take a Hike: Outdoor Early Learning with Parents and in Early Care and Education Settings

Presenters: Sarah Pedonti, Derek Becker, Cathy Grist, WCU, Myra Watson

This session describes the benefits of outdoor environments for promoting children's language and STEM learning, as well as executive function (EF), and physical activity (PA). Applied examples from two recent research studies (Study 1; n=18 families; Study 2; n=100 ECE teachers) will be described.

Beyond the Kidney Table: The Why and How of Outdoor Literacy Instruction

Presenters: Anna Jennerjohn, Rachel Tidd

While charting our future, we need to consider how to improve the literacy outcomes (i.e., reading/writing) for many of our children. The outdoors is a partner in this quest! Come hear why literacy instruction, outside, is one strategy for change, and how schools might move literacy outdoors.

Leverage Points for Bringing Nature Programs into Public Schools

Presenter: April Zajko

Integrating nature-based approaches into public schools is possible. Explore key leverage points where educational strategies seamlessly intersect with the natural environment, providing a blueprint to enhance learning experiences. Hear what's working for others and contribute to a broader movement.

Loose Parts, Nature, and Spiritual Flourishing

Presenter: Deborah Schein

This presentation shares how the Minneapolis Loose Parts Laboratory (LPL) supports ECE in providing equity, access, inclusion, and social justice through loose parts play. The relationship between STREAMS and Spiritual Flourishing will also be discussed as helping children remain optimistic and resilient.

Nature-Based Wisdom and Sensory Integration for Babies

Presenter: Gayle Berry

Early connection to people, places, and the planet enhances mental well-being and a sense of community. We have trained over 300 tree babies guides to hold space in nature for connection. Our work focuses on the first 1001 days of life when brain development is at its greatest and brings the wisdom of nature. 

Nature-Based Solutions, Nature-Based Play, and Environmental Justice in BIPOC Communities

Presenter: Lotus Chaney

Together we will discuss ways nature-based solutions (NbS) can be used to promote environmental justice in BIPOC communities. We’ll explore case studies and discuss the challenges to implementation and how they influence the development of nature-based play spaces for those who need them the most.

Nature Adapted: Tips for Inclusion in the Outdoors

Presenter: Patti Bonnin

Spending time in nature can improve physical and mental well-being, especially for those with disabilities. Learn about common barriers to accessible outdoor education and different ways your organization can improve its accessibility to be more inclusive for everyone.

Cultivating Community Partnership and Interagency Collaboration That Support Outdoor Learning 

Presenter: Vanessa Barela

In this session, learn how the New Mexico Public Education Department is leveraging community partnerships to create place-based, community-based outdoor learning initiatives that align with community priorities and support collaboration to create systemic support.

Reflections on the Inaugural Implementation of an Interdisciplinary Childhood and Nature Course for College Students

Presenters: Meg Gravil, Mary Sciaraffa

Learn about the struggles and successes through our lived experiences of developing, implementing, and evaluating an online, interdisciplinary Childhood and Nature course for university students from various areas of study. Were students’ attitudes towards engaging children with nature impacted?

Breathing with the World: Exploring How Childhood Relationships with Land Foster Lifelong Environmental Action

Presenter: Alyson McMullen

Explore Natural Curiosity's four-branch environmental inquiry pedagogy in this workshop, emphasizing Branch 4: Moving Towards Sustainability/Breathing with the World. Learn how nurturing children's connection with the natural world helps us build a more sustainable future.

Internship Program Between a Kindergarten Teacher Training School and Fundación Temaikèn in Argentina

Presenters: Ma Alejandra Romeo, Carolina Pérez Castro, Beltramo Ma Catalina

Description: The Internship Program between the Kindergarten Teaching Training School ISFDyT N°55 and Fundación Temaikèn (Argentina) was developed in 2022 to promote environmental citizenship and literacy of the future teachers of the municipality where Temaikèn Biopark is located.

Incorporating Early Numeracy into Outdoor Learning

Presenter: Patricia Gharrity

This session will focus on embracing early numeracy and outdoor learning through an analysis of the relationship between these two pedagogies. This workshop will guide teachers in thinking about community and place-based approaches to early numeracy skill development in the outdoors.

Cultivate Your Own Nature-Based Pedagogy That Unlocks a Learner-Focused Outdoor Classroom

Presenter: Victoria Hackett

Elevate your outdoor teaching journey toward exceptional leadership and advocacy by exploring how to cultivate your own Nature-Based Pedagogy using the Four Types of Gardens and 5 Pedagogical Approaches. Discover and unlock a learner-focused Outdoor Classroom that embraces playful learning.

Showcasing Learning in the Open: Unveiling Educational Journeys Outdoors

Presenter: Audrey Fergason

Every child deserves the opportunity to engage in outdoor play and learning. To make this a reality, we must be capable of expressing, recording, and showcasing the crucial learning that takes place when children are outdoors.

Diversity Education In Nature (DEIN)

Presenters: Camille S. Edwards, Dan Kriesberg

Using the Earth as a role model, The Diversity Education In Nature (DEIN) program uses nature awareness skills and ecological concepts in a hands-on outdoor education setting to teach young children how to build more empathic communities with a greater sense of belonging.

Facilitating W.O.N.D.E.R to Promote Purposeful Play Beyond Pre-K

Presenter: Carlie Davis

Play is essential in preschool classrooms, but as children grow up, play can sometimes take a backseat to other learning strategies.  Let’s take a peek at programs designed for ages 6-11 at Wasatch Nature School and cultivate a school culture where playfulness is celebrated in the higher grades.

Rooted in Fairness: Outdoor Play and Anti-Bias Growth

Presenter: Heidi Mann

Can a snail or dandelion promote an anti-bias curriculum or teach us about social justice? In nature-based play, children can develop a deep understanding of empathy and interdependence. With nature as our guide, collaborative play games can promote flexible mindsets and compassionate critical thinkers.

Beyond the Fence: Integrating "Rucking" and "Heavy Work" into Outdoor Education

Presenter: Jaala Shaw

Young children have a natural tendency to pick up and move heavy objects. Have you ever wondered WHY they do this? In this session you will learn the cognitive benefits that doing heavy work has on children and how to integrate this safely into your curriculum.

Environmental Sustainability in the Outdoor Classroom

Presenters: Jenny James, Lea Ann Christenson

Reaching sustainability through early childhood programs may seem far-fetched, but many environmentalists are influenced by memories of significant experiences in nature. Join us as we discuss an asset-based approach to sustainability through the outdoor classroom.

Supporting Infant and Toddler Risky Play

Presenter: Joanna Spotts

Infants and toddlers CAN participate in risky play! This session will discuss how infant and toddler teachers can support their students in developmentally appropriate risky play. We will also cover strategies for discussing risky play with students’ families.

Using an Emergent Curriculum in Nature to Meet Common Core Standards

Presenters: Julia Souvlis, Rachel Daniels

Participants will gain an understanding of how to facilitate a child-led, emergent curriculum while delivering common core standards.

LOL in Nature; Strategies for Enrichment Throughout All “Layers of Life”

Presenters: Kim Hale, Janessa Bartlett

This session will describe the “LOL in Nature” model to increase communication and social interaction with individuals with neurodiverse abilities in an outdoor setting in a year-round outdoor nature-based setting.

Mind Full or Mindful: Exploring Benefits, Practices, and Possibilities for Children and Teachers When Nature and Mindfulness Are United

Presenters: Rachel A. Larimore Ph.D., Laura Morris

Nothing without joy! Teaching is complex and often overwhelming. When things get crazy, teaching may not feel joyful. Join us to explore two evidence-based approaches (mindfulness & nature) shown to support the well-being of children and teachers. When practiced together, the outcome is MAGICAL!

Restoring Kinship: Practices for Early Childhood

Presenters: Lia Grippo, Erin Dews

This presentation offers both theory and practice toward developing an authentic sense of belonging within the community of nature for programs and individual educators.  Presenters will explore how the development stages of early childhood are naturally predisposed to such an orientation.

Nature's Classroom: Integrating Sit Spots into Curricular Learning for Educators

Presenter: Lauren MacLean

Explore the transformative power of sit spots in outdoor learning, empowering educators to integrate nature's wisdom into teaching for engaging and meaningful experiences across diverse curricular areas.

Reflections on a Post-Licensing Landscape: The Advocacy Continues

Presenters: Nicole Corbo, Rachel Franz, Maddie Cole, Sibyl Maer-Fillo 

Join panelists from Washington state as they discuss the importance of cultivating a common language and shared understanding among all who support young learners in nature-based education so that, much like mycelium, we may experience networks that flourish.

Learning in Community: Deepening and Sustaining Your Nature-Based Teaching

Presenter: Liza Lowe

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) provide immersive learning opportunities for educators to grow together, sharing experiences and knowledge while offering a trusted space to problem-solve and support one another throughout a school year. Workshop participants will experience pieces of a PLC!



Nature Explorers: Parents’ and Young Children’s Engagement in a Community Outdoor Learning Environment

Presenters: Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Monika Marszalek

We will share findings from a study of parents’ and young children’s engagement in an innovative, community-based outdoor learning environment, including the types of play observed and parents’ beliefs about outdoor and risky play, and discuss opportunities for parent education.

“This Green Tomato Does Not Look Ready to Pick!”: Children’s Learning and Engagement in Gardening and Cooking

Presenters: Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Mandy Heffernan, Stephanie Abbazia

We will share findings from a study of preschoolers’ gardening activities at school and cooking at home. A photovoice method was used to gain an understanding of children’s perspectives and photobooks showcasing their photos were shared in classrooms to facilitate home-school connections.

Local Rural Knowledge and Informal Science Education in Rural Nebraska Early Childhood Classrooms

Presenter: Sarah Paulos

This study aims to discover the existing experiences that lead to local rural knowledge (LRK) of specific rural Northeast Nebraska communities. Collected data will assist in understanding the impact that LRK has on young children’s science knowledge in rural communities. 

From Research to Practice: How We Might Envision Gathering Functional Data on Children in Outdoor Learning Environments

Presenters: Blenda Luize Chor Rodrigues, Linda Hestenes, Savannah Searcy, Miranda L. Denham, Robin Lewis, Amy Wrather

This poster explains the data collection methods used to gather information on preschool children’s play in a forest environment and on a playground. We explore how these observational tools for collecting data might be used by teachers of preschoolers to show outcomes in their natural environments.

"I Could List One Million Benefits!”: Exploring Educators' Perceptions and Practices of Outdoor Play in the YMCA

Presenters: Debra Harwood, Jaime Barratt, Laurel Donison

Outdoor play (OP) is essential for children. In Canada, children spend half of their time in childcare, with minimal outdoor play. A qualitative inquiry indicated educators were knowledgeable of OP but lacked specific skills. Professional learning had little impact; recommendations for advancing OP are included.

Get Growing: Gardening Trade Books and Resources to Enhance K-3 Science Learning

Presenter: Ashley Campbell

Gardening has the potential to foster a love for plants and for spending time outdoors in young children. This poster will provide ideas and resources such as gardening trade books and hands-on activities for teachers to improve children’s understanding of and experiences with gardening. 

But I'm Not a Scientist: STEAM Programming for Informal Educators

Presenters: Erika Hogan 

You're sold on the value of outdoor programs and ready to explore how your space can work for families and pre-K. But including STEM and STEAM themes for preschool programming can seem daunting, especially for informal educators who may not have a background in the sciences.