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Saturday, April 27, 2024 
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Evergreen Heritage Center
Mt. Savage, MD

About this Nature-Based Training

Join us in the beautiful Appalachian mountains for an inspiring Spring day of nature-based teacher training at the historic Evergreen Heritage Center. MSDE-approved for 6 clock hours, this training will awaken your senses, kindle curiosity, and spark more ideas for outdoor learning with young children. 

This retreat brings together experts in the field of nature-based early learning to share ideas and practices, with a variety of workshops to choose from. Gather to explore topics around environmental stewardship and gardening with children, or explore creative arts using natural materials (descriptions below). You can also hear from two different schools that are taking learning outside at programs in public elementary schools.

ERAFANS will provide a professional development certificate at the conclusion of the event (pending 6 clock hours of MSDE approval). Please dress for the weather, as most of this training takes place outdoors, rain or shine. Coffee/tea with lite breakfast and lunch included on Saturday, but remember your canteen for drinks throughout the day. 

Note: We strive for zero waste during our training events; please bring your canteen for drinks.

Who Should Attend?

This training is ideal for educators, caregivers, and others working with young children ages 2 to 8. Our participants work in all kinds of settings, from nature-based schools and forest kindergartens to public schools, traditional preschools, HeadStart programs, childcare centers, daycare, and more. 

Workshop Descriptions

This retreat is packed with topics you will love! You can look forward to engaging, immersive sessions on the topics you need to learn, play, and explore with children outside.

Experiential Approaches to Environmental Stewardship
Brittany German, Susan Friend, & Dana McCauley, Crellin Elementary School

Participants will engage in hands-on outdoor learning that offers a dynamic and immersive experience that fosters a deeper connection with the natural world. By engaging directly with outdoor environments, students can explore and interact with ecosystems, geological features, and wildlife, enhancing their understanding of ecological principles. Through activities such as nature walks, field trips, and outdoor experiments, learners develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and a sense of environmental stewardship. This experiential approach to education not only cultivates a love for nature but also promotes physical activity and mental well-being, making it a valuable component of holistic learning.

Soil Properties & Decomposers
Rebecca Kenyon-Sisler, Hickory Environmental Education Center

During this hands-on session, methods for teaching young children about soil formation and soil properties will be presented. Participants will engage in activities that can be used to teach children about soil in indoor and outdoor settings. The activities focus on providing students with opportunities to practice making observations and communicating their findings while learning about soil. The session will wrap up with a discussion of the role of decomposers in soil formation and a decomposer scavenger hunt.

Forest Days Outdoor Learning Program
Lisa Marini, Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools
ERAFANS has offered their Forest Days Outdoor Learning Program in Philadelphia for five years, and in the fall of 2023, launched Forest Days at a Title 1 school in Baltimore. Join Lisa to examine how kindergarteners at Sandy Plains E.S. benefit from weekly outdoor learning on their school grounds.

Art in Nature
Chris Isleib, Lucy School and Andrea McCluskey, Hood College

This workshop will focus on connecting with nature through art. Participants will participate in a variety of experiences that will help children connect, observe, interact, wonder, reflect, and respond to experiences and materials in nature. Observation drawing, nature journals, sit spots, and exploring natural materials indoors will be some of the activities we explore.

Host Tour: Evergreen Heritage Center
Learn about the educational programs offered by our host during this informal tour with Q&A during lunch.

Cultivating Curiosity Through Gardening
Kayla Souza, Little Lilac Preschool

Just in time for spring, we will explore simple ways to engage children through gardening. We'll do some winter sowing (not just for winter!), create some garden stones, and gain resources you can use in your own learning space. Whether you are a new or seasoned gardener, you will be inspired to embrace the garden and all it has to offer.

Nature Play Workshop: Make-and-Take Session
Who doesn't love a chance to slow down, reflect, and learn how to make something with others? During this closing workshop, participants get to sample several nature-based arts experiences that are ideal to include during exploration of the Spring season.

Have questions? Email us at programs@erafans.orgPlease note that all participants are required to complete this waiver during registration. Our refund policies are found here as well.

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