Natural Teachers

Welcome to the virtual gathering place for Natural Teachers. A Natural Teacher is any educator who uses the natural world as a powerful learning environment—whether the subject is biology, writing, art, or any other.

Members: 373
Latest Activity: on Sunday

Every teacher can be a Natural Teacher.

Think of this forum as a break room full of your peers ready for a conversation, a place where you can share ideas and ask for suggestions, where you can be engaged, creative, and encouraged. The subject: How to use the natural world as a classroom to improve your students’ health and well-being, including cognitive ability and attitudes toward learning. The objective: Inspire action, individually or in groups.

Like any meeting place where diverse opinions and concerns are shared, the discourse here must be civil. For further guidance on the “rules of engagement,” please see a set of Frequently Asked Questions located at

The goal is to encourage more teachers to connect their students with nature and to provide a forum where Natural Teachers can share their knowledge and views. Collectively, Natural Teachers can have a profound impact on improving the lives of children, and, in some schools and communities, that is already happening.

Please participate actively, and encourage others to join. Get together face-to-face as well.

You'll find tools and resources throughout the larger Children & Nature Network website.

The Children & Nature Network Leadership Team will monitor this NTN Group web site from time to time, to respond to ideas and encourage action. Thank you for your commitment to children.

Discussion Forum

Using the Schoolyard to Focus on Literacy Concepts 2 Replies

   I am very interested in exploring how the schoolgrounds are being used to develop the various skills and content that are included in a literacy curriculum. Too often we concentrate outdoor…Continue

Started by Herb Broda. Last reply by Herb Broda on Sunday.

Puerto Rico: Sea Turtle Nesting and Immersive Ecology and History

Professional Development Opportunity for Teachers, Students, and Passionate Conservationists!  Sea turtle nesting in Puerto Rico -- a unique and privileged opportunityHi--I am a mother of two young…Continue

Started by Kimberly Marshall McLean Mar 3.

Infants and toddlers in nature 2 Replies

Hello. I am a 5 star  licensed family child care home provider in NC. I believe in letting even the youngest child explore nature. Infants and toddlers learn through their senses and nature is such a…Continue

Started by Vanessa Taylor Gilliam. Last reply by Vanessa Taylor Gilliam Jan 6.

Music and the outdoors 7 Replies

I'm wondering if  you know of any resources connecting music to  the outdoors ?Continue

Started by Kari. Last reply by Vanessa Taylor Gilliam Jan 6.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Natural Teachers to add comments!

Comment by Juliet Robertson on August 4, 2011 at 11:36am
Thanks. That would be much appreciated, John
Comment by John Thielbahr on August 4, 2011 at 11:28am

Hi Juliet,

I'll put you in touch with Anne Post directly via email.  I'm interested myself.  Cheers.  jt

Comment by Juliet Robertson on August 4, 2011 at 11:22am
Hi John

That sounds like an interesting piece of research. Is it possible to view it online anywhere? I have lots of different listmanias set up on UK Amazon on different nature themes. It's a guerrilla tactic to help chance visitors consider more out door and nature based themes. I'd give you a link except I'm writing this from my phone and not really used to doing this! Best wishes.
Comment by John Thielbahr on August 4, 2011 at 10:56am
Lori Kiesser's post on July 27 about the connection of Outdoor Education to career choices confirms a conversation I just had with Anne Post of the National Conservation Training Center (USFWS) who works in NCTC's Conservation Library and has been working hard on a children and nature literacy project.  One of her conclusions from new research is that career choices are not only influenced by Outdoor Education but also by reading nature-based books.  Check out her web site at .  Children's literacy is a huge issue for our country and is one reason The Children & Nature Network is starting an initiative to convince public libraries to include nature-based books in their children's literacy programs and include nature-based activities connected to the reading.  All Natural Teachers should get involved in this with their public and school libraries.  Also check out the C&NN "Where Nature Meets Story" on our web site for books and activities.  Cheers,  jt
Comment by Juliet Robertson on August 3, 2011 at 9:28am
Thanks Suz - it is interesting to read an international perspective. During July and August 2010 I wrote 10 blog posts about The Coombes School which may be of interest to readers
Comment by Suz Lipman on August 3, 2011 at 9:19am

Hi All - Thought this news story might be of interest:


Schools in England and Canada are creating green schoolyards and nature -based programs.

Comment by Mandy Tulloch on July 29, 2011 at 3:30pm
Hi All, just catching up on postings here. Re macro photography, Niall (pronounced Neil) Benvie in Scotland has come up with a fantastic method of taking the most beautiful images of animals up close and personal. It involves simple and cheap materials (plus a little skill!). Contact him at
Comment by Lori Kiesser on July 28, 2011 at 7:14pm

Outdoor Education: An Entry to Careers In Science and Math For Dive...


"Connecting kids with nature not only contributes to their physical, social, and emotional development (3), but it may also instill in them the enthusiasm to pursue a career in science or in another STEM field."

Comment by Emily Kent on July 28, 2011 at 5:36pm

I really appreciate your insight Amy, thank you! It's empowering to hear. Someone who is very dear to me and whom I admire a great deal, shared his similar outlook with me recently, that teachers are in a position to really strengthen and influence a community. He's a Physical Education teacher/outdoor guru, and possesses a very natural, welcoming approach to teaching and maybe more importantly, learning together.

Thanks so much for the encouragement and for the insight into your experiences.


Comment by Amy Butler on July 27, 2011 at 8:46am


Thanks for your enthusiasm and your question on "what works". There is much we can do as parents, educators, and community members to instill a love for the outdoors for our children. People have been writing books on this very topic in the last ten years, hitting everything from games and activities for the outdoors, the implications of too much time in front of the screen, and what happens physically, emotionally, and developmentally to children who do not get enough time immersed in the natural landscape of their communities and bioregions.

After many years of working with children and adults outdoors as a naturalist and a teacher, I have a place that offers an incredible opportunity for immense change in our cultures view of the outdoor world. The public school. Children spend their early learning years in some sort of formalized educational system. If a school can create and foster a love for the outdoors, there is no stopping the effects it can have on each individual child and the community as a whole. School gardens, naturalized playscapes, lessons in wetlands, forests, and, fields, and citizen science projects all have the capability to radically change learning on a whole child basis and open the door to awareness of what is happening outside.

Check in with your local daycare centers, preschools, elementary and high schools. Are they using their communities as a classroom? And if not, why?

best to you and your work!



Members (372)


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