We realize that early childhood professionals have a variety of hopes when it comes to engaging in professional development. For that reason, we have developed a suite of program options. Choose from one of three program formats to best suit your needs:
Natural Science Workshops,
A Year of Exploration, and
Professional Learning Community.
Natural Science Workshops
How can we explore the lives of all of the birds that fly around outside of our center? Are there fun activities that deal with the animal tracks that crisscross our property? During the spring rains, I wonder if there are ways to direct some of our students’ energy to water investigations? Knee High Nature offers answers to the questions above through Natural Science Workshops on specific, seasonal topics that kids find fascinating!
These 3-hour workshops for groups of up to 20 participants are designed to increase children’s awareness of, curiosity about and appreciation of the natural world through investigation, creative play and plenty of interactive time outside. The units draw from children’s own outdoor experiences with many different hands-on opportunities that encourage them to raise questions, explore objects and materials, spend time outside and share and discuss their ideas.
Specific Natural Science Workshop units are:
A Year of Exploration
Knee High Nature offers a seasonal approach to professional development for adults working with young children. The “A Year of Exploration” series includes local natural science content relevant to your site, and engages early childhood professionals in the best practices for frequent, unstructured time outdoors for children.
The Knee High Nature staff works with your input to plan and present information that is relevant to the wild places just beyond your backyard, whether field, forest or pond. These workshops will give you the tools you need to both meet early learning standards, and spend more quality time outside in every season with the children in your care.
Each season (spring/summer, autumn and winter) Knee High Nature teacher/naturalists will lead your group of up to 20 participants in a 2-hour workshop. If you choose to participate in just one workshop, the duration will be 3 hours. Sign up for all three seasons starting this spring !
Professional Learning Community (PLC)
Collaboration is the key in our Professional Learning Community! Groups of both public and private early childhood professionals get together not only to learn new skills for playing and learning outside, but also to process how those skills work. Communities of practice are a nationally growing movement, and are an innovative and effective method. We all are professionals working together to make a difference in the lives of the kids and families who we serve, and professional learning communities deliver a great deal of impact on those efforts. Each multi-session PLC provides an opportunity for up to 14 contact hours of professional development, with 7 two-hour gatherings. During the time between meetings, you begin to implement what you learned and discussed in order to foster rich discussion and reflection within the group.
Each monthly PLC meeting will include:
- Welcome activity
- Discussion and sharing with a community of individuals in regards to the previous month’s topic
- Modeling and active participation in outdoor and indoor, hands-on, developmentally appropriate activities with attention to early learning standards and core competencies
- Closing circle
Benefits of Participating in KHN Workshops
Each workshop in any of the three formats includes:
- Professional development credit
- Current research and background information regarding young children in nature
- Information and ideas for your role as Adult Mentor
- Seasonally based and developmentally appropriate outdoor activities and resources for exploring your local natural highlights
Themes and Topics of KHN Workshops
Knee High Nature workshops have a seasonal and habitat-based focus. Because our workshops are place based, we will work with you to decide on themes and topics appropriate for your site. Examples of natural discoveries we might explore include:
Despite the cold, or perhaps because of it, winter is a fun time to play outside! During our winter workshops we can explore winter weeds, evergreens, tracking, owls, winter birds, fort building and of course…snow.
Spring and Summer
There is much to discover during the warmer months as the world reawakens from its winter slumber. Some things that we may explore as we play outside are: honeybees and other insects, spiders, roots, wildflowers, nests, salamanders, frogs, mud, water properties, aquatic life, birds and weather.
As the air begins to get crisp and cool, we can don our scarves and play amongst the seeds, insects, spiders, small mammals, moss, birds and leaves.