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: 414
Latest Activity: Feb 12

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

Workshop: Nurturing Our Children, Ourselves, and Nature

Dear All,    We are launching a new program supporting adult teachers and facilitators of nature and learning experiences. We begin with a workshop on October 7, 2017 in White Plains, NY:Nurturing…Continue

Started by LoraKim Joyner Jul 26, 2017.

Backpacking Wilderness Summer Camp Counselor Positions Available

Camp Unalayee, a non-profit wilderness summer camp for kids, ages 10-17 is looking for outdoor lovers who want to be backpacking Summer Camp Counselors. Come spend the summer in the beautiful Trinity…Continue

Started by Sarah Camp Feb 7, 2017.

Music and the outdoors 8 Replies

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

Started by Kari. Last reply by Tara Lynn Von Dollen Sep 18, 2016.

ParkLAND Project Get Kids off the Playground and Into the Wild Corners of Local Parks

A new Raintree School initiative is afoot. And we're inviting everyone! From preschoolers to scouts, Missouri to Maryland, we'd like to…Continue

Tags: mapping

Started by Brandi Cartwright Aug 9, 2016.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Dave Sandersfeld on March 25, 2010 at 9:13pm
Homeschooling is a good call. Make do with less; but Nature Near Us provides ample oportunitiy to study science, math art and poetry. We just nee to recommend inspiring spots near by.

I live in Oregon & here's my ongoning "hot List" or must sees. Maybe a role model for other states?
Comment by Juliet Robertson on March 13, 2010 at 7:38am
Hi Suzie

I think the new blog is a useful addition to the C&NN site. Thanks for the mention - completely unnecessary but very kind of you. Here's to the continuing success of C&NN and nature educators and activists everywhere.

Best wishes
Comment by Suz Lipman on March 12, 2010 at 11:59am
Hi Everyone, I wanted to let you know that a newly designed C&NN blog launched today, thanks to Amy Pertschuk and team. The blog will continue to feature an article by Rich Louv each month, and it will also now include news briefs about the movement.

One of those first briefs features the Natural Teachers Network and highlights many of you. Thank you John, Juliet, Chip, Ashley, Stephanie, Carmen, Jean and Nancy for sharing some of your activities and passions with me. They are very exciting and I wish I could have written even more. We will certainly continue to highlight this group and members.

To see the new blog, visit

To see the post about the Natural Teachers Network, see:

Thanks again for the stories and inspiration.
Comment by Juliet Robertson on March 4, 2010 at 7:25am
Hello Everyone.
I've just blogged about Willow Structures in school yards/grounds. I don't know if this is something that interests any teachers here, but feel free to have a look. It's a good summary of the benefits of having willow dens etc in schools for learning and playing.
Comment by Janice Swaisgood on March 3, 2010 at 6:47am
Here's another option for the IditaNature prize, if you want something that will "keep on giving" a reminder of the fun they had participating and getting outdoors. This would also create a lot of buzz leading up to the event. The idea is to create a tshirt for the IditaNature event that all kids (and adults if possible) who meet the challenge would receive as a prize. I just thought of this because my son has a shirt that says" Get into nature... IT'S WILD!" that he absolutely loves (thank you, Target!). Here's how I might implement next year (not enough time this year):
- get a sponsor for the event
-if students are old enough, I'd hold a contest for a logo and slogan design well before the event (this should get kids and families excited about the whole thing)
-a panel of students, parents and staff (include administration, support and custodial staff for increased "buy in") chooses the top 3 - 5 designs (depending on # of entries)
-the top designs go to a "vote"... include surrounding community if possible to promote the event and raise awareness of the overriding goal of connecting kids to nature
-use the winning design to create tshirts... and sweatshirts, hats/visors, rulers, pencils, folders, etc... whatever you think would be fun and motivating for the kids. I think sweatshirts would be fun for students who "double" the challenge minutes, a tshirt for all who meet the challenge and pencils or rulers or ??? for everyone who logs a minimum # of minutes.

I know that things like tshirts, pencils, rulers aren't necessarily tools for nature per se, but they increase visibility and provide positive reminders for what was hopefully a great experience. I think this is really doable with a sponsor if someone would be willing to do the required leg work.

I LOVE this idea and am going to look for a similar event that's more "relevant" to our area... San Diego. Not even "relevant" I guess, but something more well known by our community. Hmmm. But I even love the name IditaNature. I'll have to think about that.

I'm also going to promote this as an idea for our Family Adventures in Nature (FNC). Don't have time to get it together for the Iditarod this year, but I really love this idea/concept.

Maybe we should start planning and training now for the 2012 Summer Naturlympics!
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

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