Online Sessions

Browse the list of on-demand sessions, available until July 1, 2023.

To view on-demand sessions, visit the Session Gallery

A Better Sense of Nature

Presenter: Jacob Rodenburg

With all of our senses tuned and primed, we can deepen our student’s connection to nature. From following scent trails, to creating micro-trails, from drawing sound to a touch scavenger hunt, in this session you’ll learn creative ways to enhance your sensory experience of the natural world.

A Mindful Walk in the Park with Young Children

Presenter: Irida Tsevreni 

How can young children’s relationship with nature be empowered through mindfulness? This poster presents various experiential and ecocentric pedagogical techniques, which can be used under the lens of spiritual ecology in early childhood environmental education.

Becoming A Great Observer

Presenter: Ade Hofmann

Let's unpack the power and value of uninterrupted play. Learn WHY uninterrupted play is vital to early childhood learning. Navigate the barriers of play that cause caregivers and educators to interrupt play. Ade will share her tried and true action steps that can be implemented at any time.

Building Allies for Outdoor Classrooms

Presenter: April Zajko, M.Ed.

Developing a sustainable outdoor classroom is much more efficient with community support. Many nature-based educators are reluctant to ask for support, but when they learn five key strategies it becomes easier to build community with potential supporters right in our own backyards.

Community-Led Nature-Based Family Engagement

Presenter: Ashley Y Brailsford

This session will share an 8-week immersive program for families with young children that aimed to explore the intersection of culture, art, and nature led by community knowledge holders and parents.

Connecting Children to Nature, Themselves, and Their Community

Presenter: Samuel Broaden

In this session, participants will learn and discuss the importance of teaching children early on their connections and responsibilities to our earth and our fellow humans. Ideas such as mutual respect, kindness, environmental advocacy, personal responsibility, and power will be discussed.

Constructing Our 50-foot Creek: An In-Depth Child-Led Project

Presenter: Rhonda Pollock

Through documentation, we will explore the learning that took place during an in-depth child-led project.

Do We Have to Be Licensed? Maryland's Journey Towards Outdoor Preschool Licensing

Presenter: Monica Wiedel-Lubinski

You may think licensing is a hassle...but without it many children do not have equitable access to nature-based preschool and child care. This session explores why outdoor preschool licensing is crucial and offers specific ways to advocate in your state, based on efforts now underway in Maryland.

Exploring Changes in Children’s Nature Play Practices and Caregiver Perceptions in the Context of COVID-19 

Presenter: Becky L. DelVecchio

This presentation will take a deep dive into a mixed methods research project conducted by Dr. DelVecchio. Using a sample of caregivers of young children, this research explored changes in nature play practices or changes in caregiver perspectives about nature play in the context of COVID-19.

Facilitating Safety in Risky Play

Dr. Monica Shire

By taking on risks, children build confidence, develop focus and concentration, strengthen muscles, build friendships, connect to the natural world, and build trust. In this session, we learn how to facilitate a benefit/risk analysis, and create a risk assessment report and a risk mitigation report.

Feeling Confident About Art and Scientific Concepts in Your Learning Spaces

Presenters: Chelsey Bardgett, Amy Garbin

Join us, two educators who expand on early childhood environments through science and art exploration. Learn more about art by exploring the seven elements. Practice science and create your own experiments. Support the curiosities in your learning space with a strong foundation in art and science.

For the Love of Turtlebug/Preserve Playful Land!

Presenter: Johnny Buckley

A 13,000 square-foot corner forest (vacant lot) in Hawthorne, Philadelphia is being reimagined as a place of healing, natural play, and wildly curious stewardship. Can a handful of 1-2 year-olds preserve land, save six trees, and cultivate community through play and art?

Forest School and Its Affordances for Children with Diverse Needs

Presenter: Angela Rekers-Power

Findings from a Ph.D. study, using affordance theory to analyze children's activity in urban woodland Forest School (FS) sessions demonstrate how children's participation is shaped by the material and social affordances of the FS site and ethos, with benefits for both children and teachers.

Fostering a Focused Relationship with Nature Across a K-3 Integral Curricula Through Mentoring and Training: A Case Study

Ann Kumpf

Cambridge School in Baltimore, Maryland uses a holistic, integral educational approach with a nature focus across the curriculum. The use of hands-on experiences in nature allows multi-sensory, physical, and emotional connections while building cognitive skills and deep knowledge of topics.

Helping Preservice Teachers Meet Competencies in an Outdoor Learning Environment

Presenters: Peter Locast, Sheila Williams Ridge, Ayuko Boomer, and Alyssa Wilt

The University of Minnesota Child Development Laboratory School documents the techniques they used to help preservice teachers meet their required learning outcomes and competencies in an outdoor early childhood setting.

Investigating Influences of Policy on Early Childhood Educators' Outdoor Nature-Related Practices with Infants and Toddlers

Presenter: Jayne Kinley

Presented are findings of a Ph.D. study into influences on educators’ nature-based practices with infants and toddlers. The study’s AR project revealed policy significantly influences educators’ outdoor role interpretations, perceptions of infants and toddlers, and nature experiences offered.

Key Concepts from Theories Supporting Nature-Based Learning

Presenter: Josh Meyer

This presentation unpacks key features from seven different psycho-environmental theories associated with nature-based learning. These theories help explain the importance of nature connectedness and provide direction on how to leverage nature-based learning opportunities.

Magical Exploration: Build a Sensory Path in 4 Easy Steps!

Presenter: Jena Ponti Jauchius

Sensory paths are fantastic multi-sensory features that all kids love. Learn how to build a sensory path in four easy steps, from planning to building a beautiful, fun pathway. We’ll walk through how to build a sensory path with three different materials: log cookies, flagstone, and stone mosaics.

Mentoring Nature Connections Through Bird Language

Presenter: Lauren MacLean

Observing our local birds is one of the safest ways we can learn about our land and who we share this space with. We will also investigate some nature routines (sit spot, wandering, and journaling) as well as some investigative prompts to use when scaffolding our students' learning experiences.

Moving and Shaking: 10 Ways to Enhance Cognition in Preschoolers in Outdoor Settings

Presenters: Jaala Shaw, Kristin Horneffer

Get moving! Did you know that physical movement enhances cognition in young children? In this session, we will do various demonstrations and give descriptions of how we integrate academic subjects into the outdoor preschool class through movement.

Nature Pedagogies for Climate Change and Sustainability

Presenters: Dr. Claire Warden, Dr. Rachel Larimore

Climate change and sustainability can seem to be issues too large to face alone. Join us to explore how nature pedagogy can support agency and activism in children, families, and team. Leave with a sense of vision and purpose linked to a growing movement of eco-centric models of early education.

Your Local Zoo: A Place for Addressing Barriers for Nature Play with Infants and Toddlers

Presenters: Jessica Schellhorn, Andrea Contreras, Catherine Jackson-Banks, Nemesia Herzstein

It can be challenging to encourage parents to let their young children engage in nature play. Join us as we share some of our barriers and provide you with tools to identify your barriers. We’ll also identify ways in which you can incorporate your local zoos & aquariums into your nature play experiences.

Nurturing the Foundations of Nature-Based Early Learning: It Begins with Us

Presenter: Elissa Pearson

This session explores educators’ personal relationships with the natural world. We consider evidence regarding the benefits of nature contact/connection, alongside scientifically supported pathways and practices to strengthen our personal bonds with nature, and in turn our pedagogy & practice.

Open the Door to Wonder with Growing Up WILD, an Environmental Education Curriculum for Early Elementary (PK-3)

Presenters: Kiki Corry, Wendy Drezek, Amy Kamata, Victor Cruz Adames

Sample a taste of a Growing Up WILD workshop where wildlife science and early childhood education meet. Get a few activities that you can use immediately and consider connections and modifications with early childhood expert facilitators.

Outdoor and Environmental Education for Early Childhood Education College Students

Presenters: Elizabeth Boileau, Linda O’Donoghue

Join us to learn about a nature-focused practicum course that is being taught as part of the early childhood education and development program at a college in Canada. We present the format of the course as well as findings from a phenomenological research study.

Outdoor Education in Irish Primary Schools

Presenter: Michaela Omojola

This research will critically review the current profile of outdoor education and how learning outdoors can meet learning outcomes of the Irish primary school curriculum.

Placing Kinship at the Center 

Presenters: Megan Gessler, Sheila Williams Ridge

Kinship is at the heart of nature-based pedagogy. Come explore the Children's Environmental Kinship Guide with two of the authors as they walk you through conception, philosophy, usage, stories, and aspirations for the future. 

Planting Seeds: Hope, Growth, and Beauty: Exploring gardening as a way to support community outreach

Presenter: Lindsey Kleinberg

We will discuss, explore, and investigate the role of hope, growth, and beauty in a garden setting. While working on a children’s garden initiative, I have been documenting the pros & cons of community outreach, learning & utilizing the local narrative, and recognizing the importance of giving back.

Reimagine Your Outdoor Space for Creative Play and Learning

Presenters: Erica Quigley, Sara Brunelle

Ready to improve your outdoor space for creative play and inquiry? Get inspired to re-imagine your outdoor environment based on best practices. Topics include curriculum goals, loose parts, safety, low-cost improvements, and organizing space into landscape “rooms.”

The Importance of Indigenous Perspectives in Children's Environmental Inquiry

Presenter: Haley Higdon

Experience Natural Curiosity’s transformative pedagogy that encourages children’s environmental inquiry through an Indigenous lens, developed with guidance from a national Indigenous Education Advisory Board across Canada.

Seed Libraries: Creating Outdoor Opportunities for Children and Their Families

Presenter: Ashley Campbell

Seed libraries have the potential to increase science literacy & appreciation of the natural world. They can be housed at a public library, a school, or even in a neighborhood. This poster includes basic information about seed libraries, how to start one, and associated programming ideas.

Storybooks and STEM - Oceans of Possibilities

Presenter: Sarah Roberts, Jackie Steffen

Discover the excitement of connecting literacy and STEM to children, families, and early childhood professionals through the Earth’s amazing oceans.

Striving for Equity: Re-Thinking Tuition Models to Make Nature-Based Learning Accessible to Low-Income Students

Presenter: Joanna Maulbeck

I will explore ways to offer outdoor-based education across socioeconomic lines by evaluating the tuition model that is used by Deep Roots School of New Vernon, NJ. It gives families the option of paying a percentage of their income in an effort to diversify.

Supporting Social-Emotional Learning in Outdoor Spaces

Presenter: Jessica Yuill

We know that experiencing nature daily supports the social-emotional health and well-being of our youngest children. Join us for this session to learn how child care programs, preschools, and homes can design and activate outdoor spaces to support social-emotional learning for young children.

Teaching Communication Skills to Children on the Autism Spectrum in Mountainous Preschools

Presenters: Syhung Ho, Shari L. Wilson, M.A.

Children on the autism spectrum in mountainous preschools and ethnic minority areas in Vietnam do not have many opportunities for specialized education methods. Discover nature-based solutions that teachers can incorporate into inclusive classrooms to help these children learn communication skills.

Teaching with the Body in Mind: A Dialogue About the Need for Children to Move to Learn

Presenters: Joey Schoen, Mike Huber, Ross Thompson, Tom Bedard

Listen in to a discussion that will challenge you to examine your assumptions about big body play, including such things as risk-taking and aggression. Hear about risk/benefit analysis that supports children’s active, physical play. Share in the joy of saying “yes” to big body play.

The 100 Languages of Children: Reggio-Inspired Outdoor Classrooms

Presenter: Victoria Hackett

The idea of “the 100 languages” was originally born from a poem written by Loris Malaguzzi, and later became a famous educational topic. In this session, we take these languages outdoors, discover what they are, and explore their impact on Reggio-Inspired Outdoor Classrooms.

The Nature-Based Early Childhood Assessment Tool and Guidebook

Presenters: Jenny Hanlon, Heidi Faris, Anna Dutke, Sheila Williams Ridge

The Minnesota Children and Nature Connection has developed a nature-based assessment tool and guidebook for early childhood programs. The focus of this session will be on the guidebook portion and how administrators and teachers can use this to grow their nature-based learning within their program.

The Science of Storing Fruits and Vegetables

Presenter: Lucy Martinez

Learn how effective storage of produce will help with shelf life and increase their usage for meals and make the expenditure of purchasing fruits and vegetables efficient. Why is it important to know where food comes from will help us appreciate the nutrients and benefits to the body.

What’s in Your Social-Emotional Backpack? Be Ready to Respond with Conscious Discipline®

Presenter: Anna Katja von Elbe

As educators, we must equip ourselves with the values and skills to model and teach daily to empower children to regulate themselves, handle difficult feelings, and communicate with others. Learn about Conscious Discipline in our urban forest school and take home helpful strategies and resources.

Young Minds, Wild Spaces: Outdoor Learning and Nature Connection in Public Early Childhood Education

Presenters: Marie Robinson, Anne Stires, Liz Lewis, Brittany Arbo

Participants will hear an inspiring story from Katahdin Elementary School and engage with materials that will help advance their own journey into outdoor learning. The session will highlight the importance of community partnerships, print resources, professional learning, and community support.

Weapon Play: Why It Is Important and How to Talk About It

Presenter: Samuel Broaden

Spending time outdoors, we see children use various tools of nature as weapons and we are taught to shut it down. However, children can gain so much from this type of play if we talk with them about it. So come learn why this type of play is important and how we can have open and honest dialogue about it. 

ABCs of EE: Access and Belonging in Communities

Presenter: Sylvia Collazo

Despite the growing movement in social justice among environmental educators, too often we forget that to achieve justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, we also need to ensure that all individuals can access opportunities to engage with and in nature and feel that they belong in those spaces. This presentation will discuss why access and belonging are necessary, valuable, and achievable components as early childhood nature-based programs work to reach diverse communities. 

Digital Tools for Administrators

Presenter: Rose Volponi

Do you operate with one foot in the paper world and one foot in the digital world? As administrators, our jobs require us to do many different tasks in a variety of fields. In this session, we’ll work to pinpoint where digital tools would help make your job easier. We’ll share some immediate takeaways and recommendations. This conversation is for any program type and any level of experience of an administrator.

How to Engage Public Schools in Nature-Based Learning

Presenter: Meredith Florkey

How can we create a public school nature program that serves hundreds of children?  Topics will include, laying the groundwork, partnerships, sustainability, labor and equipment involved, funding, and walking the line with standards and nature "lessons," and content.

Outdoor Preschool Policy Panel

Presenters: Kit Harrington, Amanda McMickle, Teresa Weed, Monica Weidel-Lubinski, and Tara Williams

Outdoor preschool advocacy exists at the heart of the nature-based early childhood education movement, part of a larger drive to ensure every child has the opportunity to access the benefits of nature in their early learning experiences. In the years since Washington’s groundbreaking outdoor preschool licensing legislation, advocacy efforts across the country have continued to grow and work to change the landscape for NBECE access in innovative ways that can provide inspiration for the field as a whole. This panel will feature advocates from Maryland, Illinois, Texas, and Maine reflecting on strategies, challenges, and shared goals in outdoor preschool policy advocacy today. 

Taking Action Today for a Joyful Tomorrow: How to Take Inventory of Your Work-Life Balance and Advocate for Your Time and Wellness 

Presenter: Amanda McMickle

Educators around the world are working through stress and disengagement like never before. As we navigate toward the new normal of post-pandemic life, it is important for us to ensure our students and staff feel safe, valued, and invested in an unknown, yet fulfilling and transformative, future. During this session, we will state our current status both individually and collectively with regard to personal and professional wellness in the nature-based education industry, identify whether our own tension lies in burn-out or moral misalignment, and leave with very clear ways to get to our place of personal and professional wellness. 

Teaching for Tomorrow: Handprint Actions for Sustainability Education

Presenter: Archana Panicker

This session focuses on sharing best practices on sustainable positive actions called Handprint and showcases how toddlers gain understanding and knowledge and make connections with the world around them towards a sustainable future and responsible citizenship.