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Inspiring Nature Play Session Proposal

Call for Proposals

5th Annual Conference
Inspiring Nature Play: Innovations

Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Chicago Botanic Garden

Inspiring Nature Play is an annual conference geared towards enabling access to developmentally appropriate nature play experiences for an early childhood audience (birth through age 8). Attendees of the conference include approximately 200 formal and informal educators, administrators, and parents with a wide range of both early childhood and environmental education backgrounds and expertise.

Possible breakout session topics include, but are not limited to: 1) innovations in nature play, 2) nature play integrated into K-3rd grade school curriculum, 3) use of technology to enhance nature experiences; 4) communication techniques to advocate for the importance of nature play, 5) urban nature play, 6) new ideas to support spontaneous, child-directed nature play, 7) the design of innovative outdoor play environments, 8) classroom gardening, 9) nature-related literature, 10) nature art, 11) risk assessment, and 12) nature play for different ages, including children ages birth to 8 (or through 3rd grade).

There are two ways to participate as a facilitator during the conference:

  1. Lead a 45-minute breakout session.  The format of these educational sessions can be a single person presentation, a panel of experts, or hands-on activity workshop. We encourage facilitators to design sessions that incorporate the latest research and best practices in nature play, as well as content and learning techniques appropriate for a mixed audience of professionals working in schools, nature centers, libraries, park districts, museums, etc.
    1. There will be 15 minutes in between sessions.
    2. Following the event a Resource Booklet will be distributed to all participants.  All presenters will be asked to share documents that could be included in this packet, such as PDFs of PowerPoint slides, handouts, book lists, etc. 
  2. Lead and staff a drop-in hands-on nature-play activity station. We invite educators to share a hands-on nature play experience that they have successfully facilitated with young children (birth through 3rd grade) and that could be easily replicated by educators from a variety of settings (e.g. schools, libraries, park districts, museums, nature centers). Two separate groups of participants will be given 30 minutes during the lunch hour to freely explore these hands-on activity stations at their own pace (totaling 60 minutes).

Please note: As a conference presenter, since you are graciously giving your time to the facilitation of the event, the conference registration and parking fees will be waived for up to two individuals. If you would like lunch, we only ask that you pay a reduced lunch fee of $20 per person (full registration fee is $52 per person). As a facilitator, you will receive special registration instructions to receive this discounted rate.

Inspiring Nature Play is possible because of the collaborative effort between Chicago Botanic Garden, The Alliance for Early Childhood, BackYard Nature Center, Greeley Elementary School, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Kohl Children’s Museum, Natural Start Alliance (a project of the North American Association for Environmental Education), and Northfield Community Nursery School.