Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
A group of preschoolers at Drumlin Farm Community Preschool running across a field surrounded by forest, with two teachers smiling and walking behind them
Drumlin Farm Community Preschool © Emily Haranas

Professional Development for Early Educators

Unlocking the Power of Nature-based Learning

Mass Audubon's professional development programs empower early educators to transform their curricula by bringing nature into all subject areas.

The benefits of nature-based learning are clear: 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. 

Transform Your Curriculum: Practical Tools, Coaching, and Workshops

Whether you're looking for a single workshop, a training series, one-on-one coaching, or an in-depth, year-long program for your entire school, Mass Audubon's early education PD programs will spark your passion for nature-based learning, give you a toolbox of practical ideas for incorporating nature into your existing lesson plans, and build the necessary skills and confidence to get students outside.

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Contact us today to learn more about any of our early education PD offerings and start your nature-based learning adventure!

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Building School-wide Nature Learning All Year

Seasonal Early Education Discovery & Science (SEEDS)

Unleash the power of nature-based learning across your school with Mass Audubon’s year-long Seasonal Early Education Discovery and Science (SEEDS) professional development program, with options to focus on either nature exploration or farming and food systems.

Through a comprehensive program of engaging workshops, in-class coaching, expert curriculum consulting, and on-site assessments, we'll work with your educators to create dynamic learning opportunities that ignite a passion for nature exploration or farming and support your existing curriculum. Hands-on support from a Mass Audubon early childhood educator will take your nature-based or farm-based learning to the next level: They'll model lessons, co-teach, and help you design lessons specifically for your students.

The SEEDS program equips educators with the confidence and expertise to seamlessly integrate nature or farming into their lessons, fostering a lifelong love of learning in the outdoors in their students, and supplies them with a treasure trove of Mass Audubon-created, age-appropriate classroom activities and take-home sheets, all complemented by post-activity learning sessions led by our expert educators.

For more information and pricing, please contact us.

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A group of preschoolers in winter coats and hats huddle around their teacher who is kneeling in the grass and pointing to autumn leaves on the ground
Drumlin Farm Community Preschool, Lincoln

Professional Development Workshops

Spark curiosity and empower early childhood educators with Mass Audubon's professional development workshops and series. Choose from a variety of engaging workshops designed to nurture children's connection with nature and farming and support all areas of development. 

Our workshops are flexible! We offer them in-person or online, and can even create custom programs to perfectly suit your school's needs. You can also add additional support services, like site visits and curriculum consultation. Contact us to discuss your program's needs.

A preschool-age child leans between the rails of a wooden fence, smiling and reaching for a falling leaf. Colorful leaves on the ground suggest it is autumn.
Stony Brook, Norfolk

Natural Connections for Early Educators

Learn how to integrate nature into each of the six developmental domains: social-emotional learning, art and music, language and literacy, science literacy, math, and motor development. While these workshops complement each other, each one can also stand on its own.

Empower your students to build resilience and manage stress through engaging outdoor activities and games that build a sense of community. You'll explore your own feelings towards nature and discuss different emotional responses children may have when outside.

Discover the power of mindful listening and observation to find and create calming art and music in nature. Get creative and take inspiration from the art and music that can only be found outside.

Delve into the art of storytelling to spark your students' imaginations and explore descriptive language and early literacy skills. Build literacy outside the classroom through letter-writing, reading the stories left behind by animals, or creating your own nature-inspired tales.

Help your preschoolers become little scientists, as they seek to answer some of the bigger questions through hands-on activities in nature. This exciting intro to science literacy explores concepts like cause and effect, the cyclical nature of life, how all living things adapt to new challenges, and how to observe the changes happening all around us. 

Did you know nature is a giant math playground? Develop your students' math skill through playful activities that build on concrete math principals like sequencing of events, comparing and contrasting objects, and counting. Learn to categorize, order, and make sense of the world around you using mapping and charting skills.

Help your preschoolers develop essential motor skills and a love for learning through engaging nature-based games, projects, and activities. From heavy-duty nature building to fine precision work, your students will engage their whole bodies and get those sillies out!

A preschooler at Drumlin Farm Community Preschool jumping off a log into autumn leaves, wearing a puffy coat, mittens, a warm hat, and rain boots.
Drumlin Farm Community Preschool, Lincoln

Inside & Outside with Nature

With busy schedules and sometimes limited access the outdoors, how do you bring more nature-based learning into your lessons? This workshop series will show you how to seamlessly integrate nature-based learning into your daily routine, no matter your school's location (urban, rural, or suburban).

We'll explore creative ways to make nature a regular part of your indoor learning environment, from engaging circle-time activities to open-ended explorations and focused lessons.

We'll explore creative ways to make nature a regular part of your indoor learning environment, from engaging circle-time activities to open-ended explorations and focused lessons.

Don't let rain, wind, or chilly temperatures keep your students indoors! Discover fun and educational activities for a variety of weather conditions. We'll troubleshoot challenges, suggest gear solutions, and help you turn "bad" weather into exciting learning opportunities.

When temperatures drop, snow flies, and sharp winds bite, it can be daunting to keep your students excited about exploring the outdoors. Explore strategies for managing winter gear and navigating "challenging" weather conditions, and pick up tons of activity ideas to make winter play inclusive, accessible, safe, and fun for all learners.

Preschoolers at Drumlin Farm Community Preschool pull weeds in the fields with a teacher
Drumlin Farm Community Preschool © Emily Haranas

Kids in the Garden

Join the movement to connect children with nature and healthy food! This workshop series caters to both seasoned gardeners and beginners who have never planted a seed. We'll explore engaging activities that show children how to make healthy food choices by learning about gardening, eating locally, cooking, and more. Engage your entire school community around food and learn how to involve families by celebrating their unique food culture and heritage.

These workshops are designed to support schools participating in CACFP, but they will also offer valuable insights for any early education program interested in:

  • Gardening: Learn how to create and manage a thriving garden space.
  • Food & Culture: Explore how food connects cultures and fosters community.
  • Cooking with Kids: Discover engaging ways to introduce cooking skills and healthy habits.

Integrate food, cooking, gardening, and cultural exploration into your curriculum. Discover the 3 C's (classroom, cafeteria, community) and learn how to involve students' families in celebrating their cultures and heritage through food.

Design a thriving garden and build curriculum around it that sparks children's curiosity and encourages them get to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. From planting to harvesting, we'll show you how to connect all areas of learning to your garden oasis.

Transform your garden harvest into delicious and educational meals! Even without a full kitchen, you can inspire healthy eating habits and a life-long love for cooking and eating fresh produce. Learn how to introduce kitchen tools and explore kid-friendly recipes for a fun and tasty learning experience.

Food is a powerful tool for connecting families, celebrating cultures, and building a vibrant, thriving school community. In this workshop, learn strategies for creating a farm-to-school curriculum that engages students, families, and local farmers and growers, and creates a more inclusive and culturally rich learning environment. We'll explore ways to celebrate cultural diversity through the lens of food, cooking, and gardening, and get kids excited to learn about where their food comes from.

Three children at Drumlin Farm Community Preschool blowing seeds from dandelion flowers with their arms around each other
Drumlin Farm Community Preschool © Emily Haranas

NEW! Wondrous Water Workshop

Water is all around us and children are innately curious about this essential element. There are many ways to dive into the wondrous world of water: students can discover the importance of water across different cultures or through scientific exploration, geography, art, and more! 

This unique training draws inspiration from two locally produced children’s books: Water by Christy Mihaly and Nature Smarts: All About Water by the educators of Mass Audubon, to help you learn how to implement rich learning opportunities and engage your students with hands-on, inquiry-based activities that get kids excited to learn more about water.

Each school participating in this workshop will receive a copy of each of the featured children's books. Additional copies will be available at a discounted rate.

Small child playing in a puddle of water

Custom Workshops

Can't find the perfect workshop? We create customized professional development programs tailored to meet your program's specific goals and interests.

Here are just a few examples of how we can help:

  • Weave nature-based learning into religious holidays or values.
  • Integrate trauma-informed practices into your outdoor curriculum.
  • Maximize nature learning opportunities in urban environments.
  • Design engaging activities around specific curriculum themes (like hatching and raising chicks!).
  • Align your nature-based learning with teaching styles like Montessori, Waldorf, or CLASS.

The possibilities are endless! Let's discuss your unique needs and create a custom workshop that empowers your educators and inspires your students.

Contact us today to start your nature-based learning adventure!

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Three children laying on their backs, heads upside-down, on a playground bench at Drumlin Farm Community Preschool
Drumlin Farm Community Preschool © Emily Haranas

Additional Support Services

Mass Audubon's comprehensive support services go beyond professional development workshops to help you fully integrate nature-based learning into your early childhood program.

Site Visits

Transform Your Outdoor Space: Our on-site (or virtual) consultations help you unlock the potential of your schoolyard and make the best possible use of whatever outdoor space you have available. We'll provide a detailed report with suggestions for activities and topics tailored to your unique space. We can visit your site, in-person or virtually, to help identify how to make the best use of your outdoor space.

Curriculum Consultation

Seamless Integration: Collaborate with Mass Audubon staff to design engaging nature-based activities that seamlessly fit within your existing curriculum. We offer both in-person and virtual consultations for your convenience.

To learn more about any of our professional development services, please contact us.

Email us

A wooden sign shaped like an arrow reads "Nature Explorers Classroom" and points to a Nature Play Area at Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary
Long Pasture, Barnstable