December 9, 2017 | 7 - 8:30 p.m. | Rachel Larimore
Nature-Based Preschools: Exploring the Natural Advantage
Nature-based early childhood education is growing in popularity in the U.S. Yet
many parents and educators are wondering about this unique approach to teaching young children. How is it beneficial? Are children in these programs successful in kindergarten and beyond? Rachel Larimore, author of Establishing a Nature-based Preschool will answer these questions and more in her informative presentation.
Rachel received a bachelor of science in natural resource recreation and tourism, a master’s in park and recreation administration, and is currently a private consultant and doctoral student in the department of curriculum, instruction, and teacher education at Michigan State University focusing on nature-based early childhood education. For 15 years she was the Director of Education at Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, MI and the founding director of the Center’s nature-based preschool.
January 13, 2018 | 7 – 8:30 p.m. | Patti Bailie, PhD
Helping Children Develop an Ecological Identity
Nature play was once a routine part of childhood. Today, exploring in the woods and catching frogs have become rare. Yet research shows that nature play has a positive effect on children. This presentation will review the research surrounding children’s connection to nature, how nature experiences impact the developing brain and the importance of developing an ecological identity.
Patti Ensel Bailie, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Maine at Farmington. She has worked in the field of early childhood environmental education for 25 years as founding director of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool in Milwaukee, WI and co-director of the Early Childhood Outdoors Institute in Omaha, NE. But her love of getting young children outside began here in Cleveland at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes in Shaker Heights, OH.
February 24, 2018 | 7 – 8:30 p.m. | Monica Wiedel-Lubinski
Muddy Hands, Open Hearts:
Understanding the Value of Play in Nature Preschools
Outdoor play is active and healthy – no debate there. But how does play foster skill development in nature preschools? What is the role of play when it comes to outdoor learning? How do educators support (or stifle) play? Here we examine play as an essential element of nature-based learning, developmentally appropriate practice, and skill development in the context of nature preschools.
Monica is the Executive Director of the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS) and received a Bachelor’s of Science in Art Education and a Masters of Education in Early Childhood Education from Towson University in Towson, Maryland. She is one of ten expert authors selected in the United States to compile the first national Best Practices Guidelines in Nature-base Early Childhood Education. Monica is currently developing an urban forest kindergarten program, Wild Hearts, for the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks.
Funding for this series provided by generous donations to the Cleveland Metroparks Outdoor Education Fund.
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Cleveland Metroparks staff can adapt many programs to be accessible to anyone who would
like to participate assuming they meet the essential eligibility criteria. Reasonable
accommodation can also be made. Please make a request at the time of registration but
no later than 72 business hours prior to the program. Contact us at
or at these telephone numbers.