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: May 17

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 May 17.

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


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Comment by Carmen Field on March 2, 2010 at 11:41pm
Hi Sue, Here are some ideas for an IditaNature prize (in addition to the great suggestion of outdoor gear by John):
- a classroom/family trip to a special outdoor place > beach, farm, park, forest, creek, trail, mountain, etc.
- pool party (our local Waldorf preschool has chosen this as a prize - teachers there raised the challenge for kids to spend twice the Iditarod distance/time outside, so 2,300 minutes in nature between Mar 6 and 20!)
- a spring picnic at a special place
- an opportunity to make a really great piece of natural art (a la Andy Goldsworthy)
- a horseback trail ride
- spring planting outing at a community garden (one of our 3rd grade classes plants potatoes in a community garden and the next year's class harvests them and donates them to the local food pantry for needy families)
- a giant boulder delivered to the school/home or public place where children can play on it
- a tree-climbing expedition to a local forest (that has good climbing trees, of course)

There are certainly lots more ideas out there...please chime in if you have some good ones :o)
Comment by John Thielbahr on March 1, 2010 at 6:51pm
Hi Christine and a hearty welcome to the Natural Teachers Network. Thanks so much for signing up for this discussion and idea site, and for your great post about the grant from Lowe's to build an outdoor classroom and nature trail behind your school. If that doesn't get other teachers to Lowe's in their area, nothing will. Such a great idea, and there are many places on this site to help with building your outdoor classroom. You might want to wander around some other groups to get ideas and connect with folks about the Spring build. Keep us posted on the impacy this project will have on your kids and please share as often as you can. John
Comment by Christine DePetrillo on March 1, 2010 at 5:27pm
Hello, all. I just joined and am excited to chat with other folks focused on getting children outdoors again. I just read the IditaNature post and totally love the notion. I'm going to suggest it at my school tomorrow. At our K-5 elementary school, we were awarded a grant from Lowe's to build an outdoor classroom and nature trail behind our school. We are very excited for Spring to arrive so we can get out there and start building!
Comment by Kyle Macdonald on March 1, 2010 at 4:58pm
Thanks to all the teachers out there that are getting kids outdoors! Great group!
Comment by John Thielbahr on March 1, 2010 at 11:04am
Hi Sue,
I don't know the ages of the children you teach, but outdoor gear retailer REI is a partner of the Children & Nature Network and perhaps the local store nearest you would have some ideas on age-appropriate gifts. They might even donate some items. Thanks so much for joining the Natural Teachers Network. Invite your friends and colleagues. John
Comment by Sue Mitchell on February 28, 2010 at 8:44am
I love this idea! We do a lot of things like this for reading, so everyone is familiar with the general concept. Anyone have ideas for a "fantastic prize"?
Comment by Carmen Field on February 27, 2010 at 10:16pm

Here's an activity teachers, parents, club and scout leaders...anyone who spends time with children...can try this next month to encourage nature play - IditaNature. Challenge your kids to spend 1,150 minutes (ie. the same number of minutes - or more - as the miles travelled by Iditarod mushers during the Iditarod Great Sled Race) outdoors between March 6 and March 20, while the Iditarod is underway. Kids can log their daily minutes spent outdoors in a booklet similar to summer reading program logbooks (or use a modified version of the page attached here - which our local Head Start students will be using). This log would then be approved and signed by teachers, parents, club leaders, and/or caregivers. Those youth who spend at least 1,150 minutes (just 1 to 1.5 hours each day) in nature win a fantastic prize - chosen by you! The fun begins March 6th!

IditaNature chart.docx

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