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 Jennifer Ward on October 8, 2011 at 6:31am

And one more...
I've been mulling over the importance of an intrinsic connection to nature in young children - building a foundation in nature from a young age - even though it may seem as children age they may become less connected to nature; less involved in outdoor "play" (teenagers, for example).  I am the mom of a teenager who is more "plugged in" and occupied with college and dating, etc.  But I know that my daughter is connected to nature, compassionate about living things and that nature is integral to her "being".  I know this when I see her take the time to move a worm off of a sidewalk and back onto soil while taking a walk, for example.
As Steve Jobs said, "you can connect the dots when you look backward" - to see how experiences in our past form who we are in the future.

Do any of you have any "connect the dots" stories you'd like to share?  Examples of older children, or even adults, validated by experiences in nature as a young child?  I would love to quote you and credit you in my talk. 

Thank you, again!


Comment by Jennifer Ward on October 8, 2011 at 6:23am

Hello All,
I've been a member of this forum for awhile but haven't participated much -I am a former educator - but still interested in education.  There's such a treasure trove of resources and ideas here, and it's inspiring to see all of the creative efforts educators are implementing in our classrooms today - globally - indoors and out, relating to nature. 

Question:  Would any members here like to share their "favorite" nature activities for preschoolers, inside the classroom or in their outside classroom?  I will be giving a talk to the NAEYC, and I want to share as many resources as I can, including C&NnConnect and this forum - plus tried & true activities implemented by preschool teachers.
I would provide your name and affiliation (credit) for any activity you might want to share  - I am simply compiling a list of activities and ideas as part of one of the several workshops I am preparing.  I am also happy to share links to my Power Points for each workshop I give at NAEYC, following the conference (it's a regional conference).

Thank you!

Jennifer Ward,

author of I Love Dirt! 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature (foreword by Richard Louv), and, It's a Jungle Out There!  52 Nature Activities for City Kids

Comment by Ingrid Stressenger on October 8, 2011 at 3:58am
Comment by Carmen Field on October 7, 2011 at 9:18pm

Hi folks, I thought I'd share a great way we've just experimented with to facilitate knowledge-sharing among seasoned, local Natural Teachers. Last week I moderated a Natural Teacher Workshop, featuring a panel of our community's most experienced classroom Natural Teachers. We had an inspiring 2-hour conversation about reasons for and ways to provide outdoor learning opportunities for students. These amazing teachers provided priceless and rarely-voiced advice and insights for educators to expand classroom lessons into the outdoors. While attendance at this workshop was lower than we’d hoped (there is no day of the week that is a good for time for teachers to do something beyond their everyday routine and home activities) , the group in attendance was very engaged and we had a great discussion about next steps and how to attract more classroom teachers to another workshop such as this. Several new teachers who joined us were going to go back to their schools and make an effort to do the following: 1) look for natural spaces around their schools that would be conducive for math and science lessons (and down the road other subjects), 2) add outdoor journaling time to their lesson plans, 3) add solo time to outdoor activities, 4) check out this C&"NN website, and 5) encourage their administrators to not cancel recess because of rain. They suggested that we repeat this workshop and the panel format at next summer's teacher inservice at the start of the school a forum required of them by school district administrators. We are going to work with administrators to do this in 2012. The group also brainstormed the idea of introducing teachers, on a school-by-school basis, to the outdoor spaces around their school…identify these spaces, what kinds of activities/lessons could be taught there, and how to encourage the regular use of them, perhaps as a staff meeting topic at each local school. The group also suggested the creation of a field trip management workshop for classroom teachers (how to organize & prepare for a field trip), since several attendees were not comfortable taking their students on field trips away from school. Plans are now in the works for these two activities, also. I can't emphasize enough how much impact those 3 experienced teachers had on their audience...and even each other. Everyone went home inspired!

Carmen Field

Homer, AlaskaMcNeilkidsatBishopsBeach_McNeilBeachDay_May17_11_MoWilkinson.jpg

Comment by Suz Lipman on October 7, 2011 at 11:34am

Hope you all got to see the latest C&NN Natural Teachers Network Newsletter featuring wonderful information about securing funding and promotion for outdoor learning, from members Tamra Willis and Herb Broda.

There are also links to a blog by Richard Louv, "The More High-Tech Schools Become, the More they Need Nature", a contribution from Deb Dorsett Hanson about the role of libraries in connecting kids to nature, and announcements about the Green Ribbon Schools program and available grants for school gardens.

Read the newsletter here:


Here is a direct link to the Green Ribbon Schools story:

Here is a link to the Garden Grant story:



Comment by Shirley Galbrecht on October 7, 2011 at 9:37am

Hi everyone,

Not everyday is a day you can get outside but you still want to be developing student's interest and knowledge of the natural world. I've dropped by to tell you about my environmental ficture children's chapter book. Wow, that was a mouth full, but it is hard to classify books of this nature.

My book is an ebook perfect for grades 2 thru 5. It has just been released at Kindle and is only 1.99. It also can be shared for free with your students on computers, ebook readers, iphones, etc. It is a great book to read out loud. Check it out at Amazon Kindle, especially if you are interested in the share aspect, Kindle as an application that can be easily downloaded for free on your ipad, pc, apple computer, and other electronic devices. In addition, the book can be found at Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and other popular ebook libraries.

It is called The Animal Seeker and you will find more information and a synopsis at the links below. I would very much appreciate any feedback and would also like to know if you think the book should be in print. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post.  Here is the link at Kindle and also Smashwords:


Comment by Amy Butler on October 2, 2011 at 1:22pm

Yes Juliet!

I follow your website and Blog postings on a weekly basis! I have even been thinking of ways to get to your side of the Atlantic. Just today I was reading about the Swedish trainings as well. We have nothing like this in the US, as far as training goes, but I have been training teachers just in the last two years and working with them to get their students outside on a weekly basis. The demand is here and growing!

Let's make a time to chat and share stories. I am doing very similar to work to you. The week of October 9th?

Check out our website:




Comment by Juliet Robertson on October 2, 2011 at 1:03pm

Hi Amy


Please do get in touch. I'm involved with the Forest Kindergarten project here in Scotland - did the feasibility study and I'm about to start work on training materials for pre-school practitioners. I've also recently completed my Skogsmulle training - Swedish equivalent of Forest School training for those working with 5-6yr olds and currently trying things out with a class in my local school. I'm chockablock busy until next w/end but could chat thereafter!

Comment by Amy Butler on October 2, 2011 at 12:36pm
I am looking for "training" and support here in the US with the creation of Forest Preschools and Kindergartens. I have been gleaning resources and ideas from overseas. I work with preschoolers to 5th grade and have just launched a pilot session of Forest Preschool at The North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier VT. Anyone else out there I can network/chat with?
Comment by Jan Hummer on October 1, 2011 at 6:23am

Hi Suz!  Yes, Anne and I worked on this project for about a year and we are so excited that it finally is out there to share with the public and especially teachers and families.  One of the special moments creating this exhibit and was when went to a nursing home and collected memories for about a month from residents there about how stories connected them to nature.  I really learned a lot from them and have shared a little of my findings on the web site. 

When Nature Meets Story has been very inspirational when I am looking for books that meet a certain theme connecting children to nature.   In the future it would be nice to have libraries in local library communities to have activities focusing on these books bringing kids and teachers outside.  "Naturebraries" and the The American Camp association seems to be really spearheading this movement within our library systems. 

On a side note:

Many ESL students in my experience when tutoring seem to respond to simple books about nature and to do their sessions outside.  



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