Professional Development for Early Educators
Time spent in nature with young children is time well-spent: Research from the Children & Nature Network demonstrates that having regular opportunities to learn outdoors in early childhood has lasting benefits for children’s physical, emotional, and academic growth.
Mass Audubon's professional development workshops are designed to help early educators build skills and confidence for teaching all curriculum areas outdoors! Gain excitement for nature-based learning and teaching and discover a variety of ways you can include nature in existing school curricula.
Seasonal Early Education Discovery & Science
Mass Audubon’s year-long Seasonal Early Education Discovery and Science (SEEDS) program is designed to build school-wide capacity for introducing students to the natural world.
Using a modeling-coaching-mentoring model, we partner with schools to create rich, nature-based learning opportunities that fit smoothly within the existing curriculum of the school. At the end of a year, teachers will have the skills to make nature a regular part of their daily curriculum and will be excited for leading effective lessons outdoors.
SEEDS program includes:
- 18 hours of teacher professional development
- An on-site assessment
- Dozens of Mass Audubon-led, age-appropriate classroom activities and take-home activity sheets
- Post-activity learning sessions with teachers
- 12 hours of curriculum consulting
- 24 hours of coaching
Explore our available workshop series below, and keep in mind that all of our workshops can take place safely in-person or online. We can create custom workshops to meet the needs of your specific program. And we provide additional support services such as site visits and curriculum consultation.
Natural Connections for Early Educators
Mass Audubon educators will teach you how to integrate nature into each of the six developmental domains. While these workshops complement each other, each one stands on its own.
Resiliency Building: Children, Nature & Social-Emotional Development
Learn ideas and games that build a sense of community outdoors; explore your own feelings towards nature and discuss different emotional responses from children when outside; and gain tools for building resilience and reducing stress in your classroom space.
Calming Sensory Stimuli: Art & Music Found Outside
Learn various techniques for listening and looking to find the calming and restorative art and music that is in nature. Get creative and take inspiration from and gain an appreciation for the art and music that can only be found outside.
Expressing Yourself: Nature-Inspired Language & Literacy
Develop your descriptive language skills, delve into the art of storytelling, and explore beginning literacy skills. Build literacy skills outside the four walls of the classroom by communicating via letter writing, reading the stories left behind by animals, or creating your own nature-inspired tales.
Adapting to Change: Building Early Science Literacy
Help your preschoolers answer some of the bigger questions about how and why things change and how we can adapt. This exciting intro to science literacy covers concepts like cause and effect, the cyclical nature of life, how all living things can adapt to new challenges, and how to observe that which is going on around us.
Going the Distance: Math Lessons in the Natural World
Delve into the exciting partnership between math and nature. Look at nature through concrete math principals such as sequencing of events, comparing and contrasting objects, and counting. Test out your mapping and charting skills as ways of categorizing and ordering the world around you.
Spreading Your Wings: Fine & Gross Motor Development
Get your preschoolers active through a variety of fun motor games, projects, and activities all of which include nature learning. From heavy duty nature building to fine precision work, your students will have a chance to use their whole bodies and get those sillies out.
Inside & Outside with Nature
With packed schedules and variable access to time outdoors and natural resources, how do you make environmental learning more of a presence in your classroom? Find out where nature can fit into your daily routines (hint: everywhere!) and how to incorporate it seamlessly.
Whether you are an urban, rural or suburban-based school, the workshops in this series will demonstrate ways to find nature every day and bring it to your students.
Bringing Nature Inside the Classroom
Explore all of the many ways that nature can be incorporated into your daily schedule when indoors. From structured circle time lessons to open-ended explorations and focused activities we’ll learn about different ways you can make nature a daily part of your learning environment.
Finding Nature Outside the Classroom
Even programs that spend time outside every day can find it hard to use that time for nature-based learning. Together we’ll discuss how to find the time and space to learn while outside. Through focused activities, open-ended explorations and educational games, the outside can be a rich and engaging classroom.
No Such Thing as Bad Weather
When the rain pours down, temperatures drop, and sharp winds bite, how do we get our children (and ourselves) excited to go outside? We'll explore fun outdoor activities in a variety of "challenging" weather conditions, troubleshooting ideas and gear suggestions for both staff and teachers. Let's find ways to change "bad" weather into exciting and fun learning opportunities!
Kids in the Garden
There is a growing movement around gardening with children, eating locally, and teaching children how to make healthy food choices. Whether you are an experienced gardener or have never planted a seed, you’ll find something here to extend your learning. We’ll discuss garden curriculum, cooking with young children, and how to engage your school community around food.
These workshops support schools participating in CACFP, but any early education program interested in gardening, incorporating culture through food, or cooking with their classrooms will find these workshops beneficial!
Garden to Classroom
Learn about the 3 C’s (classroom, cafeteria, and community) and how they fit into your program. We’ll explore gardening curricula, talk about ways to incorporate your community around food, and how to cook with young children. We’ll also focus on including preschool families’ cultures and heritages through food.
In this workshop, we’ll focus heavily on designing and implementing curricula around your garden. We’ll discuss how to engage your children, starting with planning a garden all the way through planting, cultivating, and harvesting. How many different areas of the curriculum can relate to your garden? The answer is "all of them"!
Field to Fork
Now that you have a robust garden, how do you get your children to eat the produce? Whether your program provides all meals, or you are looking for ways to include food in your classroom, we’ll roll up our sleeves and get cooking. From introducing kitchen tools to tried-and-true recipes that young children love to cook and eat, we’ll have a delicious time learning together.
Don't see what you’re looking for? Let us know what you need! We can create customized trainings to meet the needs of your program. Some of our past customized programs have included:
- Nature-based training around religious holidays/values
- Trauma-informed care
- Urban-based programs
- Curricular themes (such as hatching/raising chicks)
- Following particular styles of teaching such as Montessori, Waldorf and CLASS style.
Additional Support Services
We can visit your site, in-person or virtually, to help identify how to make the best use of your outdoor space. After the visit we will produce a report with suggestions and ideas for topics and activities that will work well in your space. Each visit includes a complete write-up with notes.
Mass Audubon staff will work directly with your teachers to help them design nature-based activities that fit into your existing curriculum. Can be done in-person or virtually.
A Mass Audubon early childhood educator will visit and participate in a specific class to help model, teach, and design lessons for that class.
To book any of the above or with questions, please reach out.
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