Connecting Curriculum and the Outdoors: Creating a School Age Outdoor Learning Program in an Early Learning Setting
Kimberly Squires & Starlene Ruttan, University of Guelph Child Care and Learning Centre
In this presentation, we will share our experience developing a school age outdoor learning program at the University of Guelph Child Care and Learning Centre, an early learning lab school. We will share how we have framed the program using the Ontario Science & Technology curriculum for the primary grades, as well as some of the resources and topics we have explored.
The Art of Winter Abodes
Laurel Grieve, Outdoor Educator and Wilderness Guide
Have you set up a “hot tent” before or hollowed out a Quinzhee? Maybe you’re curious about “snow coffins” or want to try tenting in the wintertime? During this workshop, we’ll explore and build various winter camping abodes including Quinzhees, tarp shelters, hot tents and more. We may even get the chance to sleep in one! We’ll do more than just shovel and dig. We’ll learn strategies for keeping cold challenged students happy and warm. We too can forget the necessity for making our own heat in winter—how bodies are furnaces and must be fueled and fired up. Come prepared to get snowy and warm. Wear your layers and bring lots of water. Laurel has spent three February’s in Temagami, guiding high school students on cold camping trips and other winter expeditions. Over the years, she’s constructed and slept in dozens of Quinzhees (and a few tarp shelters) in temperatures down to -24 C. She’s passionate about being at home in nature and is excited to share the joy and art of winter shelters.
Get outside and play: supporting unstructured outdoor play for the wellbeing of all!
Linda Naccarato & Leila Barati, Earth Day Canada
Over the last 3 years, Earth Day Canada has focused on championing unstructured outdoor play to better the wellbeing of children, youth and communities. Through this interactive workshop, you will learn about the journay from outreach and awareness, what is outdoor play and why does it matter, to professional development and support; how do adults value and help support great play, and finally integration into practice; making unstructured play a part of your outdoor education program. This workshop will build upon the experience of Earth Day Canada’s POP-UP Adventure Play program and their unique partnership with Downsview Park. We will encourage active learning in this workshop, and participants should come dressed to move and participate in light activity.
Arm Knitting (Easier than regular knitting!!!)
Maranda Wilton & M Nowick, Lakehead University
Keep your hand and mind busy while learning how to arm knit! With attention to discovering the many benefits of working with yarn, ultimately it becomes a relaxing activity with persistence and patience. M and Maranda will teach others the basic concept of arm knitting to create their own scarf. Yarn will be provided (all you need are your arms). Suggested $5.00 donation for materials.
Snowshoe Hare Snaring
Arthur Murgatroyd, University of Wollongong
This is a hands-on workshop to introduce the practice of Snowshoe Hare Snaring and preparation. This workshop will explore the rules and regulations regarding small game hunting in Ontario, discuss the importance of humane harvesting methods and investigate the ecological role of this remarkable species within the boreal food web. Join in a discussion about the role of sustainable wild food harvesting and its potential for authentic connections between students and the land.Arthur has previously worked as the cultural programming coordinator for a Yukon First Nation community school. In this role, he facilitated an annualElder led snowshoe hare snaring program for students from grades 3 to 12. Arthur is a licensed small game hunter and fur bearing mammals harvester. This workshop may involve the use of sharp knives.
Tracks and Scats OR Poops and Prints
Bonnie Anderson, Simcoe County District School Board
How to look for evidence of nature in the forest – This workshop starts inside and goes to the WILD side, as we figure out who’s been out and about. Learn which prints to follow [or not] as you take groups out into the forest. Also, be ready for the spring Poop-a-paloosa, as all the buried treasures come to the surface one more time. Links to apps, math and snacks will be shown and discussed.
The Happy Campfire: an introduction to your happy hormones
Melissa Tong, Nuwa Therapeutic
What makes you happy? How do we push happy?? First, we need to understand how happy happens. In this workshop, participants will be invited to play, laugh and learn while filling up their toolbox to help and foster a happy mindful community. We will be addressing the foundations to mental health, physical health and overall wellbeing. Ignite your fire with this interactive workshop that focuses on the happy hormones and how to keep your fire burning!
Fruits of the Forest
Rick Klatt, RCCDSB/Shaw Woods
Learn how to make maple and birch syrup in an economical way as a “backyard” enthusiast and sample maple taffy and birch syrup. The chaga mushroom holds many health benefits which includes being the most powerful antioxidant on the plane. Learn about chaga and reishi from harvest to enjoyment. A sample of chaga tea, chaga tincture and black walnut tincture will be provided.
Snowshoeing for Newbs!
Staff, Bark Lake Leadership Centre Staff
Strap on a pair of snowshoes and head off the beaten path. We’ll launch ourselves into the woods and see where our snowshoes take us!
Knitting Headbands 101
Andrea Basen, Camp Tamakwa
Knitting is fun, relaxing and an amazing way to pass time (that isn’t playing on your phone). Andrea has taught countless kids how to knit at Camp Tamakwa. Kids (and Adults) love to fidget, and knitting is an excellent and productive way to be creative with your hands, but still pay attention to the world around you! It’s a way to slow down, and enjoy your surroundings. Andrea will supply the needles and wool, and willing be teaching folks how to make their headbands!
To Ski or to Snowshoe? And what to do when there is no Snow?
Zabe MacEachren, Queen’s University
Should you invest in cross-country skis or snowshoes? What should you do when there is not snow and a school group is booked? What is more Canadian, snowshoeing or participating in the Canadian Ski Marathon? Join Zabe as she weaves together some innovative curriculum ideas that allows you to learn about and experience snowshoeing and skiing no matter the weather forecast. This workshop get to the root of growing your own winter cultural events.
Using technology to support environmental education grades 4 to 12
Sandra Root, Education Specialist Hamilton Conservation Authority
The focus of this presentation will be around the use of technology in our outdoor and environmental education programs. Participants will work in small groups (12 iPads will be used) to explore a series of worksheets oriented to exploring the out-of-doors. The iPad programs are designed for grades 4 to 12 to be used as an enhancement of outdoor experiences. Discussions will be around value added to the education program. It is an interesting philosophical question: whether technology can play a valuable role in experiencing nature or, as some environmental thinkers would consider, a detriment to the educational outdoor experience.
Jessica Middleton, Ojibway Nature Center & Sheldon Lowe, Retired Teacher
Participants will learn the history of the Snowsnake and then choose a blank, use machinery, files, and sandpaper to create their own personal snowsnake. Instructors will then engrave their name and the date on the snowsnake and after the session is finished, they will apply several coats of varathane to the work. It will dry overnight. Sunday morning, the snowsnakes will be dry and participates will gather before breakfast to try them out on the lake. Cost for the wooden blank and varathane is $10.00. This workshop is limited to 15 participants.
Teaching through gardening – bring life to your students’ learning!
Stefan Dixon, Conseil scolaire Viamonde
Would you like to get outside gardening with your students, or to see more teachers at your school getting outside with their students? Would you like to see all of the classes in your school learning outdoors? This workshop will give you hands on ideas about teaching all of the curriculum outside while you and your students take care of potentially various types of gardens, from medicinal herb gardens to small wooded areas, to vegetable gardens, to butterfly gardens and more, and even what to do if you teach in a school with an asphalt postage stamp as a playground. You will get ideas about fostering outdoor learning leadershop amongst your teacher colleagues and students. You’ll learn about the challenges you may face in different environments and solutions that are available to you. You will also get a chance to learn from others taking this workshop.
Debunking the Myths of Wintering Animals
Stephanie Pavao, University of Guelph
Wintertime is a still and silent part of the North American year. You may assume that everything is frozen underneath that blanket of snow as the tempurature begins to drop below 0. However, when it seems as though all has disappeared until spring returns, many of the animals that brave the winter season are very much alive. This presentation will identify these common misconceptions about the animals that remain throughout the cold and proceed to debunk those that are, in fact, wrong. Although it is common to accept the facts we are told, this workshop will aim to challenge these ideas by using research and a new perspective to reassess them. Winter brings a harsh environment, but it is also changing throughout the years so it is important to know how our unique wildlife will change with it. This approach will test your knowledge and broaden how you look at the cold, stillness of winter, and help you appreciate its beauty amidst the cold.
1, 2, 3, Broomball!
Staff, Bark Lake Leadership Centre Staff
Broomball is possibly the most fun you can have on ice! Try and score a goal while slipping and sliding in your boots on our beautiful lake rink. *Recommended for the highly competitive–temporarily suspend your wintertime peacemaking for this session:)
Skulls and Things
Valerie Andrew, Bark Lake Leadership and Conference Centre
A fun and interactive experience for anyone eager to learn about animal skulls and other things left behind by our furry friends. During this workshop you will learn about different types of teaching activates surrounding animal skulls/bones for kids and adults, English speakers as well as ESL students. There will also be a hands-on introduction to skull and bone identification, where you will get to handle some bones to get a feel for what they are like up close and personal. There will also a demo on how to process bones, as well as some other found objects, so that they are safe to handle. If you have any skulls at home that you would like some help identifying, bring them!! Any questions about bones and other fun things are more than welcome! This is an indoor workshop, so no need for any special clothing.
Maintaining and Repairing Wooden Snowshoes and Cross Country Skis
Walt Sepic, Firefly Adventures
I’d love to share my knowledge from 35 yrs of repairs and maintenance of winter equipment. We can also put our heads together and share ideas/experiences. I’ll bring lots of old equipment, tools, repair materials, etc. We’ll also look at different types of snowshoe harnesses. Feel free to bring equipment in need of repair.
Design and build your own bobsled
Brent Evans and the Norval Outdoor School staff, Upper Canada College Norval Outdoor School
We will design and build bobsleds out of cardboard boxes. The UCC Norval Outdoor School has incorporated design thinking into a number of different programs. One of our favourites is our grade 4 winter science design program where we build and test cardboard bobsleds. We are exploring the concepts of time, friction, aerodynamics, and the strength of tape. We like to use Steve Jobs’ quote, “design is not about interacting with a computer; it’s about interacting with the world.” We will see which outdoor educator can design and build the strongest, fastest, and most creative bobsleds and then we will put them to the test on the Bark Lake mountain.
Make a pair of stilts and learn to walk on ’em
Jessica Middleton, Ojibway Nature Center & Sheldon Lowe, Retired Teacher
Participants will learn a bit of the history of stilt walking and then, from 2×2 lumber, will build a pair of stilts that they can take home. They will use a saw, cordless drill, and sandpaper to do the work. When they have finished creating the stilts they will receive instruction on how to walk on them and use them safely. Materials cost for this session is $10.00. Workshop is limited to 13 participants.
In the Know, In the Snow
Steve Ruskay, Black Feather
What is the difference between a snow flake and a snow crystal? There is more to snow than meets the eye. Every type of snow crystal has a unique set of properties, that effect its strength and characteristics. Temperature gradients within a snow pack constantly change the snow profile. The science behind snow is an expanding discipline, that encompasses engineering, meteorology, recreation, and risk management. Learn exactly what snow is, the science behind snow flake shape and formation, and differentiate between layering and other snowpack factors. Steve Ruskay is a Professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association. He has spent 13 years as a snow technician and avalanche forecaster, as well as program developer for Youth Avalanche Education. Join Steve for a unique and fascinating experience on and in the snow!
NATURE, CONNECTION, ACTION!
Jennifer Venalainen and Ticia Heibein, Toronto District School Board
Join Jenn and Ticia, experienced elementary educators, for an exciting workshop of Action Research in the snow! Action Research (AR) is a personal inquiry into looking at a problem in the classroom or learning community, and using targeted action in your teaching practice to affect change for your students. AR can actively support students’ environmental learning across the curriculum, deepen their connection to nature through environmental inquiry, and empower them as co-creators of their learning. As teacher researchers dedicated to outdoor education, Jenn and Ticia will share their approaches to AR, and lead participants through the routines and steps needed to establish action research within their own practice. Participants will be venturing outdoors to try engaging outdoor activities, and consider how they can be used in your action research. This workshop will empower educators working with children from Kindergarten to Grade 6 to take their next steps in outdoor learning. Participants will leave with a planning template for action research that they can implement in their own practice. *Please wear appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear needed for outdoor activities. Please bring a notebook for the indoor portion of the workshop.
Barbara Sheridan, Barrie Forest Kindergarten and Campfire Chats
With our schools becoming more focused on community involvement, teachers are excited about the learning opportunities that exist beyond the schholyard, but are sometimes left trying to figure out how to incorporate the local community and members, as well as how to promote community within the classroom. In this workshop, we will look at why and how to include the outside community and how to promote the community mindset in your primary classroom. We will be linking to the kindergarten curriculum, however this is applicable to all primary classrooms.
Helping to Implement Outdoor Learning throughout Ontario
Colin Harris, Take Me Outside
Building on the success of Take Me Outside Day, an annual campaign that sees more than 1000 schools and 200,000 participants spend at least 1 hour outside during the school day, we are ready to take things to the next level. TMO will be launching a national initiative in 2019 to encourage consistent outdoor learning. The goal is to create a model for teachers and schools to support students’ understanding of their local environment, empowering thoughtful action through learning that is outdoor, experiential, and place-based. Through this initiative, teachers will register to take their learning outside at least one day/week and will be offered various resources to help them be successful. Colin Harris, founder and Executive Director of Take Me Outside, will provide an overview of this initiative that aims to be a catalyst for discussion centred on how to achieve success throughout Ontario. What’s needed to receive buy-in from teachers? What kinds of partnerships can be fostered? What might be some barriers to this initiative and how can they be overcome? This session will be a brainstorm on how we can engage as many educators as possible with a commitment to outdoor learning and will provide important insight for shaping this initiative.
Winter Project Lab: Upcycled Birdfeeders
Kyle Clarke, Queen’s University
Join in the fun as we get creative and construct birdfeeders from recycled materials—yay!!! Kyle will share some basic plans and designs that he has developed; demonstrate the safe use of tools; discuss classroom/schoolyard applications, birdseed, wildlife cameras, and then set you free to design and create your own project!
Behaviour Management and Conflict Resolution with Mindfulness, Neuroscience, and Mutual Respect
Jessica Pelow, Nature Camp Consultant/Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network
Tears, fights, and big emotions are a regular occurrence when working with children! In this workshop, you’ll learn how to connect with children in moments of chaos and teach them how to take ownership of their behaviour, with kindness and compassion. Topics will include: Brain Development in Children, Punishment vs. Discipline, How to Express Dignity, Compassion, and Mutual Respect, Connecting with and Redirecting Children, and asking questions that empower children to resolve their conflicts. This workshop will include group discussions, scenarios, skills practice, and a range of mindfulness exercises woven throughout.
Math in the Great Outdoors for the Early Years
Colleen Smyth, Trillium Lakelands District School Board
With math as a focus across the province, it is important to be able to meld outdoor learning with fun, engagement, and math foundational skills. At a time when technology is taking over our lives, being outside is now more important than ever. Research shows that children are more focused and engaged when learning outside (Lost Child in the Woods, Richard Louv, 2005). Participants will be required to bring an open-mind, sense of adventure, warm outdoor clothing, and a method to document inspiring ideas. The presenter was part of a group of successful applicants to the Ontario Teacher’s Federation Professional Learning Community grant entitled “The Impact of the Outdoor Classroom Related to Early Numeracy Skills”. Provocations, fabulous resources, circle activities and guided activities will be presented and shared. Assessment, documentation, and team sharing techniques will also be discussed.
Seeding SOILidirty: Growing School Gardens & Seed Libraries
Jacob Kearey-Moreland, Bass Lake Farms & Toronto Seed Library
Young people are hungry and hangry for hands-on experiential outdoor education and mouth watering good food. Combine the two needs with innovative school garden and seed library programs for all seasons, ages and abilities in this super seedy participatory presentation. In an oft depressing era of global ecological collapse, where kids sit in class hungry and deprived of the essentials they require to fully form and function – cultivate peas, lovage and abundance for a better future. Soak up the sun and water. Enhance biodiversity. Regenerate school grounds, nourish the student body by growing, saving and sharing the seeds of SOILidirty. Join fallow growers as we cultivate a vision and plot to a-chive a seed library garden in every school sow nobody grows without. Everyone welcome to share and gather ideas (and free seeds!) to start or expand a garden or seed library in your school or community! Seed yew soon!
Homosapien Play Based Movement
Laura Baer, Speed River Physiotherapy
Of all animal species, humans are the biggest players of all. We are built to play and built through play. When we play, we are engaged in the purest expression of our humanity and the truest expression of our individuality. Is it any wonder that often the times we feel most alive are moments of play? (“Play”, Stuart Brown). Come learn how play is an inherent part of our being and can be incorporated into our every day! We will explore the principles of play established by Stuart Brown (from the Institute of Play), re-discover our primal movement patterns and learn some easy and simple ways to teach play based movement exercises for kids AND adults. Laura has been playing with movement for many years as a farmer, athlete, and now, RMT, yoga and movement practitioner. Over the years she has discovered exercise and movement can be a fun and fantastic tool for building social connection, personal confidence and awareness. Having spent some time in the Arctic, Laura will share some of the Inuit Games and the traditional use of these games in the Inuit culture. Come prepared to push your comfort zone, create new neuromuscular patterns you never knew you had and unleash your inner animal!
Hardwood, hard won – A journey towards self-employment in the woods with a wee forest school
Karen O’Krafka and Sabrina Hale, Hardwood Nature School
Explore with us the journey towards a functioning forest school: from weaving life experience into income generation, and the challenges, successes and highlights of our first year. We’ll pepper the presentation with a few hands-on activities to line your professional pockets.
And much, much more!