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Thu, Apr 15



2021 EECO Annual Conference NbECE Day

Nature Based Early Childhood Education Day

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2021 EECO Annual Conference NbECE Day
2021 EECO Annual Conference NbECE Day

Time & Location

Apr 15, 2021, 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM EDT


About the event

Thursday, April 15

Nature Based Early Childhood Education

10:00-10:30 Keynote: Uncharted Path: Nature Preschools

Bev Walborn, Senior Naturalist, Lorain County Metro Parks

Are you curious about preschools using the outdoors as their classroom? How long have Nature Preschools been operating in the US and Ohio? Why is this nature preschool movement important to you?  These questions and more will be answered as Bev shares the history of nature preschools, how nature preschools are growing in Ohio and what this means for environmental educators, nature centers, schools, parks and you!

Session 1: 10:45-11:45am

1.1  Bev Walborn, Lorain County Metro Parks (audience=informal ed, naturalists, etc.)

From Polliwog Preschoolers to Forest Kindergarteners - Have you seen an increase in the number of preschoolers coming to your park and programs? We’ll delve into child development to learn what makes these Polliwog Preschoolers tick then explore age appropriate ideas for connecting our youngest park visitors to our natural world.

1.2 Meredith Florkey, Ohio Naturally in Dayton, OH (audience=formal and informal educators)

Sticks and stones-how to work with children who engage in weapon and big body play outside

Children are often drawn to sticks, rocks, shooting activities and big body play.  This training will engage participants in discovering the developmental nature and value of these behaviors.  We'll review NAEYC recommendations about active outdoor play and ways to say yes to these behaviors and items in a classroom setting.  Teacher perspectives will be examined and we'll discuss how working outdoors with children and finding ways to be responsive to the natural behavior and pivot those to enhance learning.

Session 2: 12:30-1:30pm

2.1 Tad Liechty, Ashley Kramer & Julia Robinson, Hefner Museum of Natural History, MU - Here’s to You! Puppet Plays, Nature and Anti-bias Education (audience=formal and informal educators)

Meet Tiny Turtle, Racy Rabbit, Bernard Beaver and other animal friends as they explore and navigate fundamental life lessons. Session members will learn how to use popular children's literature to develop anti-bias puppet shows for the very young that develop positive social identities,  promote caring, respectful language and relationships,  recognize that unfairness is hurtful, and encourage children to stand up for oneself and others. They will also receive a bibliography of books that can inspire the next puppet play in their anti-bias curriculum.

2.2 Carol Juergemeier, Play and Prep Preschool in Solon, Ohio (audience=formal educators)

Nurturing Nature: How a Preschool Built a Learning Garden and Shifted Attitudes about Outdoor Education.

The two primary objectives are to tell the story of how our traditional state licensed preschool program created a managed outdoor space primarily from donated, found and grant supported materials.  The emphasis is on the fact that it took several years and happened through the support of various community partners from teachers, parents, scout troops, local businesses, and grants.  A working master plan helped us keep focus.  Participants will be given time to brainstorm who their local partners are and to initiate a master plan.

The second objective is to share how we started by offering a one morning a week outdoor class in this space. This class now fills within the first weeks of registration and we have added a three day a week outdoor class.  All classes get out to the Learning Garden each week. This approach has allowed us to shift attitudes of teachers and parents who would not have chosen to have students spend time outdoors throughout the year and in all kinds of weather.

Session 3: 2:00-3:00

3.1 Sarah Esala, Youth Library Associate in Central Ohio - Cultivating Belonging in Nature Through Picture Books

The stories we tell matter. When we showcase books that reflect Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI), we offer all kids a glimpse into a world where someone like them can explore, play and grow, inspiring real-life outdoor adventures and building important connections with nature. We’ll talk about the importance of representation in early childhood literature, resources to grow your “JEDI” collection, and share our favorite nature-based picture books.

3.2 Meredith Florkey, Ohio Naturally in Dayton, OH (audience=formal educators or informal who are interested in weaving more standards into programming)

Early Childhood Development and Learning -online

In this hands-on training, participants will learn about how early childhood education and environmental education intersect.  Theory and practice will be discussed.  Natural items will be used to create quick mini lessons in each academic and social emotional area of instruction for preschool ages.  Participants will be able to identify how nature can be used as a part of curriculum to achieve all areas (Language, Mathematics, Science, Social Emotional Learning, Cognitive Domains, Approaches toward Learning, Physical, and Motor Development) of instruction. The group will have discussion regarding being prepared for different types of encounters in the field and how to turn them into lessons that support development and learning with the preschool age range in mind.

Panel Discussion: 3:00-4:00 Q & A with Bev, Meredith, Pam, and other presenters-as able.

Bev Walborn, an experienced naturalist who successfully brought a licensed nature preschool program to Cleveland Metroparks.

Meredith Florkey, a veteran preschool teacher who led a team to create a licensed and 3 star quality nature based preschool at an educational farm in Dayton

Pam Perrino, an experienced early childhood educator, professor, and advocate.

Is a Licensed Nature Based Preschool Right for my Nature Center or Park Department?

Join a team of seasoned professionals who have founded and successfully operated licensed nature based preschools in Ohio discuss how this avenue of placed based environmental education may be right for your team!

Topics that will be covered are:

·  What defines a nature preschool?

·  The Why: Environmental, Financial, Mission-based reasons

·  Benefits of licensing your preschool program

·  State agencies & acronyms: Ohio Early Childhood Education, Nature

·  Licensed spaces & Outdoor Playspaces

·  Steps to Consider and the People

·  Q&A

4:30-5:30pm Large Group Session

Jason Hamzy, Little Schoolhouse in the Woods  (audience=formal educators and nature based educators)

Outdoor classrooms and activities require a heightened level of supervision in order to keep participants safe. Besides First Aid-CPR certification, outdoor educators should be able to safely serve snacks, maintain and monitor fires, and keep students safe and comfortable in a wide range of environments. Course participants will learn strategies, policies and protocols to follow and teach during sessions in the woods. Hiking, eating and staying warm are all fun ways to enjoy environmental education, but safety should always be a major priority.

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