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: 424
Latest Activity: Apr 3

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

Survey for educators in informal learning environments

Are you a natural teacher in an informal learning environment (nature center, botanical garden, zoo, aquarium, museum, library, etc.)? I am currently a PhD student at the University of Washington. As…Continue

Started by Emily Holm Tobin Apr 3.

Professional Development Courses In The Field

Ecology Project International is offering 7-9 day field-based professional development courses for educators focused on providing tools and methodologies to bring Next Generation Science Standards…Continue

Started by Caitlin Gill Jan 14.

Health and Wellness Programs in Nature

I'm hoping to tap into the group's expertise...We are a new wetland park, and we are just starting to create our programs. We want to focus some of our programs on health and wellness activities, and…Continue

Started by Tricia LeBlanc Jul 26, 2019.

CAMPference Teacher Nature Conference & Retreat

CAMPference Teacher Nature Conference is on again August 2nd – 4th 2019 in…Continue

Started by Tania Moloney Jun 19, 2019.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Nicole Stinn on June 7, 2012 at 12:01pm

Thank you Juliet - we are trying to do our part to inspire the little ones with great design and informative content. 

Comment by Juliet Robertson on June 7, 2012 at 9:59am

Thanks Nicole

It is always good to know about any efforts others are making to engage children with nature. I've subscribed to your YouTube site :) - Thanks and best wishes.

Comment by Nicole Stinn on June 7, 2012 at 9:20am

Being a creator/producer of children's animated content, I was happy to find the resources on this site. It was recommended to me by an administrator of C&NN that I post what we have been developing. Our mission is to get kids outside to play and learn about nature while reconnecting with the great outdoors. Each week we are uploading a new animated short video that introduces young children to a new animal. We are also publishing a storybook app, which focuses on nature and 'soft science'. Please have a look and I appreciate any feedback you may have!

Comment by Christina (Tina) Person on June 6, 2012 at 7:35pm

This is a wonderful idea!! It is so important to give credit where it is due my hats off to Anne Ferguson and her collaborators. I love how she buys new books to give the authors their due as well. Thank you for sharing John and I'll pass it on!

Comment by John Thielbahr on June 6, 2012 at 5:06pm

Here is a link to a wonderful program called StoryWalk by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT.  Anyone who touches the life of a child can use this program to improve reading and connect children with nature, especially librarians but also child care providers and all educators, formal and informal.   I may have mentioned this before, but it is worth mentioning again, and now there is a detailed how-to at this FAQ link: .  Please spread this around to those who may be interested.  Many thanks.  jt

Comment by Cleary Vaughan-Lee on May 30, 2012 at 11:15am

The Global Oneness Project is offering free educational film toolkits for teachers! 

Engage your students with 20 short films about sustainability, ecology, indigenous cultures, and more. Discussion/action guides and 60 conversation cards included.

Here is a recent article in YES! Magazine about the kits:

To register for a free kit:

For more information about the Global Oneness Project:

Comment by John Thielbahr on May 29, 2012 at 8:56am

For those of you who are starting new nature pre-schools, here is a good example of how to integrate the natural world with the education of young children, from the National Assn. of Independent Schools:




Comment by Suz Lipman on May 27, 2012 at 10:10am

Special offer for teachers of all subjects from Columbia U. Teachers College:

The Center for Environment, Economy and Society (CEES) at Columbia University is developing an online professional development course based on a successful Integrated Ecology Curriculum program implemented in six middle schools with positive results.

CEED courses align with the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. Educators who complete a course will receive 3 continuing education credits and a certificate of completion from Teachers College. Each eight-week course combines instruction and hands-on activities that can be completed independently, with “live” online group-planning meetings. The first course is focused on “Sustainable Communities” and is available for registration for both summer and fall enrollment. The deadline for registration is June 15. For more information, go to More details here:

Comment by Michael Brown on May 25, 2012 at 12:00pm

I met yesterday with my small group of Meeker Courtyard Naturalists for an hour after school. After some instruction on how to take field notes, we went outside and walked around the building.

We spotted a bird on a utility wire near the trash dumpster, singing beautifully. I knew it was a male House Finch, but I withheld that info so the students would focus on describing the bird, taking notes, etc.

It soon flew to the roof of the school, perching on the rain gutter. It allowed us to approach fairly closely and we got good looks at it. As we moved toward the northwest corner of the building it flew toward one of the birch trees at the front of the building, and a second bird joined it there. We had difficulty locating the second bird, and were unable to get a description of it (I presume it was a female House Finch). Soon, the male flew back to its previous position on the gutter and started singing again.

We went back toward it again, and soon heard soft "peeping" coming from one of the tall evergreen shrubs. Turns out the House Finches are raising a family.

We soon returned to the classroom, and the students were able to use a field guide to correctly identify our bird. I was very excited for them!

Comment by John Thielbahr on May 25, 2012 at 11:54am

To Barbara Mascareno, thanks for your note and offer to help.  We don't have a Natural Teacher tool kit yet, in English or Spanish, but it is a project that is on the front burner, needing funding and bi-lingual volunteers like you.  I will keep you all posted on our progress, and if you know any other bi-lingual Natural Teachers, please ask them to join up and volunteer.  jt


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