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Inspiring Nature Play: Inside Out

Inspiring Nature Play: Inside Out

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Regenstein Center
Fee: $52
Grade level: Birth – Grade 3

Join this annual professional development event geared toward enabling access to developmentally appropriate nature play experiences for early childhood (birth through grade 3). Keynote and internationally recognized early childhood technology expert, Chip Donohue, Ph.D, of the Erikson Institute will focus on the positive and appropriate intersection of technology and nature play. Through interactive workshops (or “playshops”), you will be inspired to push beyond your comfort zones to expand your concept of nature play and come away with hands-on ideas that can be immediately integrated into work with young children. Sessions will be led by a variety of early childhood and environmental experts. The conference is organized by the Alliance for Early Childhood and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Special thanks to the planning committee members from the Backyard Nature Center, Greeley Elementary School, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Kohl Children’s Museum, Northfield Community Nursery School, and Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum at Benedictine University. Parking and lunch are included.


8:30 – 9 a.m. Check-in and Registration

9 – 9:20 a.m. Welcome and Overview of the Day

9:20 – 10:30 a.m. Keynote Address

"Take it Outside or Leave it at Home: Reflections and Nudges on Nature Play, Technology, and Media Mentors"
Chip Donohue, dean of distance learning and continuing education, TEC center director, Erikson Institute

Nature play is a developmental essential in the early years with implications for healthy growth, development, and learning from the inside out and the outside in. In the digital age, devices and screen-media have become ubiquitous for adults and children. But is technology friend or foe to nature play? How can we think critically about whether, when, and why to take technology outside or leave it inside? Chip Donohue will explore the intersection of nature, play, technology, and media and empower educators and parents as media mentors who help children safely navigate the digital age inside and out. 

10:40 – 11:25 a.m. Concurrent "Playshop" Sessions

Best Books for Nature Play
A Curriculum of Tools and Back Pocket Ideas
Experiential, Environmental Education
Nature Play Group for Immigrant Families with Young Children 

11:35 A.M. – 12:20 p.m. Concurrent "Playshop" Sessions

Inside/Outside: Lessons from the Garden
Leading a Neighborhood Walk: Early Childhood Sensory Hikes
Outdoor Play Adventures in Evanston
Supporting Young Children to Explore the Natural World 

12:30 – 1:30 P.M. Lunch, Networking, and Hands-on Nature-Play Experiences
Art and Nature
Colors of Connection: Where Our Food Comes From
Composting for the Next Generation
Fun with Fossils
Life around a Pond
Mighty Acorns Environmental Exploration
Natural Sensory Play
Nature Art
Nature as the Third Teacher
Nature Mobiles
Nurturing Math through Nature
Six Small Worlds: Teaching Habitats through Sensory Play
What's Up, Wetland?

1:40 – 2:25 p.m. Concurrent "Playshop" Sessions

The “Art” of Nature: Giving Voice to Children’s Ideas through Design with Natural Materials
Spot’s Playground: Reinventing a Nature Center’s Playscape
Story Walk: Nature’s Story in Words and Pictures

2:35 – 3:20 p.m. Concurrent "Playshop" Sessions

Botany Basics and Activities
Embracing Nature
Exploring Habitats through Sensory Experiences
Managing Risk in Nature-Based Early Childhood Education

3:20 – 3:30 p.m. Evaluation and CPDU Form Completion