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Saturday, October 6, 2018  
Aurora Waldorf School
525 West Falls Road, West Falls, NY 14170

About this Retreat 
Discover ways that nature-based learning enhances skill development during a hands-on day of training! Presenters share insights and activities based on their work in nature preschools, forest kindergartens, or other nature-based programs. Training is ideal for educators working with children ages 3-7 years old. Also includes a tour of our host's nature-based preschool program. Light breakfast and lunch are included, but bring your canteen for drinks. (You can indicate dietary restrictions when you register.) Professional development certificate provided at the conclusion of the event. Please dress for the weather, as at least 50% of this event will take place outdoors, and don't forget your canteen!

Our hosts at the Aurora Waldorf School provide an exemplary model of Waldorf teaching practices infused with nature-based learning.  Join us for an inspiring day of nature-based ECE training and outdoor fun!

Workshop Descriptions see complete schedule

Beeswax Modeling and Storytelling
Mary Fisher, Aurora Waldorf School
Participants will follow the seasons with color, story, and form to be modeled.
Colored beeswax will be in our hands as we hear a short story about seasonal aspects and changes in nature. Then we will gently mold the warmed beeswax into a form guided by instruction and one’s own imagination.

Finger Knitting & Natural Dyeing 
Jaime Thompson, Aurora Waldorf School
Learn to finger knit wool yarn into a simple crown, a great skill to teach to 4-6 year olds! Then discover the magic of creating a dye bath made of natural ingredients to dye your crown a golden color. Related seasonal songs, verses and circle games will also be shared! (A limited number of white silks will be available to purchase for $10 each if you wish to use the dye bath to also make a play silk.)

Dancing Plants: The Botany - Geometry Connection
Maria Ebersole, Aurora Waldorf School
Explore through movement the recurring geometric patterns in different plant families. Have fun acquainting yourself with the patterns will help with plant identification as well as appreciating the wonder and beauty of their forms.

Activating Universal Passions & Connecting with Our Inner Vitality
K. McCadden, Honey Sweet Harmony/Acorn Preschool Ithaca
Let's follow Coyote into an adventure to explore the childhood passions shared by humans of any age, across cultures and generations!  Hiding, seeking, sneaking, make-believe, imitation...remember what inspired you in your own childhood, and learn how as a mentor you can shift group energy from the initial step of excited inspiration into focused learning.  Favorites often include nature-connection games, performing arts (especially improv.), storytelling, music, dancing, martial arts, and sports.  Get ready to try on some shape-shifting in Animal Forms!

Nurturing Young Naturalist Skills
Bill Michalek, Iroquois Center Schools and
SUNY at Buffalo, Environmental Studies Dept.
In every season, Nature has lessons and stories to share. This session will focus on observing the changes in the autumn woods (and throughout the rest of the year).  We'll cover ways to guide elementary-age children toward making their own observations and having memorable experiences in the natural world.

The Merging of Art and Nature
Casey Kirkland Johnson, Creatures in the Wild
Art and nature are a natural fit when it comes to childhood education. Incorporating natural materials found in the wild around us into creative work connects children even more strongly to their local ecosystems and environment. Discover how to help forge this connection and bring art into the classroom setting every day. 

What About a Forest School?
Megan Mills Hoffman, Urban Creatives
What does a Forest School experience look like? Feel like? What changes when we take learning outside, or bring the outdoors indoors? Join us to explore and discuss the process between teacher-led and student-initiated learning. Themes to explore include: free play, open inquiry, school readiness, self-led learning and autonomy, having a sense of self, self-confidence, self-esteem, and fostering the capacity for being self-initiating learners

Risk Management and Outdoor Learning
Maryfaith Miller, Lime Hollow Forest Preschool
This session defines risks VS hazards and explores how to manage them in outdoor settings. We will share approaches for educators, administrators, and parents to make the most of nature play in wild settings.

Facilitating a Nature-Based Curriculum
Emily Schniderer and Sophie Armstead, Acorn Preschool Ithaca
Explore the ways that facilitating self-directed play, mentoring exploration and connection with nature, teacher guided curriculum, and larger societal expectations intersect when implementing a nature-based program. What guides our choices? Come open to sharing your experiences in a supportive and non-judgmental group discussion with the goal of leaving with greater clarity about your curricular choices.

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