15 March 7:00-8:15 p.m.
Keynote: Why 21st Century Children Need Nature: Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens
The original kindergarten — the children’s garden —conceived by German educator Friedrich Froebel in the 19th century, was a place where children learned through play, often in nature. That idea is fast eroding. Children aren’t playing in the garden anymore; instead they’re filling in bubbles on worksheets. The new movement of nature-based early childhood education can reverse that trend. There are thousands of forest kindergartens throughout Europe and new programs opening every month in North America. Let’s examine the promise of this healthy approach towards living and learning outdoors with young children.
16 March 9:15-10:30 a.m.
Workshop: Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators
When children have access to free play in natural areas, they do the same things, around the country and around the world. They make special places, go on adventures, develop fantasy games, go hunting and gathering, craft small worlds. These recurrent play patterns can be used as design principles to help structure compelling outdoor activities with children, and these engagements can lead to environmental values and behaviors in adulthood. We’ll recollect some of our own significant experiences from childhood. Then we’ll explore the nearby environment using some of these recurrent play motifs and design appropriate activities for young children.