A Better Sense of Nature
Jacob Rodenburg, Camp Kawartha
Children spend so much time inside, staring at 2 dimensional screens. We were born with the ability to perceive the natural world in a deep and abiding way; with all of our senses tuned and primed. In this fast paced, technological world, we find ourselves relying on our sight and hearing – seeing and listening to the world through our glowing windows. In this workshop, you’ll be introduced to a whole suite of activities that practice using your sight, hearing, feeling, smell and taste in new ways to help your students connect to their environment. From following scent trails, to creating micro-trails, from exploring basement windows to creating beautiful nature sculptures, we’ll activate all of our senses so you can feel more connected to this wonderful world. This workshop is based on Jacob’s upcoming book called “The Book of Nature Connection” which will be released in May of 2022.
Billie Jo Reid, Peel District School Board
Nature Journaling is a way to observe the natural world around you, using words, pictures, and numbers. You do not need to be an artist or an expert naturalist in order to do this activity, as it is NOT about creating a “pretty picture”. The following statements will lead you down this fun and engaging path: “I notice. I wonder and it reminds me of” They will encourage you to observe even the finest details in the phenomena you are observing. Nature journaling allows you to take a brain break from all the other things going on in your life. You will check in with your emotions before and after the session to see how they have changed. From experience, a deeper sense of calm, happiness and curiosity are often felt. The following items are required: Pencil or pen & journal. Optional: ruler, pencil crayons and something to sit on.
Connect with All of Our Relations
Carolynne Crawley, Msit No’kmaq
Dive deeper with Carolynne into a more intimate relationship with the Earth that centers reciprocity and respect for All of Our Relations. As we witness and experience the impacts of a climate crisis, global pandemic, and injustices it may be easy to lose hope. Carolynne will focus upon breaking down colonial ways of thinking that intentionally try to separate people from the Earth, by creating an opportunity for reflection and individual change. Carolynne will offer an opportunity to connect deeper with the Earth through guided sensory experiences.
Jacob Kearey-Moreland & M Nowick, Bass Lake Farms
Join Jacob and M from Bass Lake Farms as they explore the connections between holistic wellbeing and garden-based learning (GBL). We’ll dig into some hands-on activities such as garden planning, planting, harvesting, and seed saving. Learning objectives include demonstrating social emotional learning skills (SEL) within a garden setting, and differentiating garden-based activities to integrate all curricular subjects. Take home resources provided can be adapted for virtual learning. No experience needed, for all ages and abilities.
Let’s make bycocket hats!
Kyle Clarke, Queen’s University
Let’s make what kinda hats?? Yes, that’s right, we’ll be making our very own medieval headgear with just a needle and thread, a simple pattern, and some remnant and recycled fabric. Think Robin Hood – that’s the type of hat we will be making. Along with learning how to make these fashionable 14th century hats, we will also discuss the stories of Robin Hood (the original fan fiction), the handmade garments of outdoors groups such as the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, badging in education, design thinking and prototyping, and the value of knowing how to repair and maintain your own personal items.
An Introduction to the Practice of Sit Spots
Diana Clements, Parry Sound Forest School
Sit Spots are a foundational forest school practise intended to help participants focus on a special place in the forest using all their senses to absorb and really see and experience the nature around them. This workshop will be an opportunity for participants to learn about the process of sit spots and best practises to make them as meaningful as possible. We’ll also have the chance to practise sit spots for ourselves. This will be an emergent and interactive session where we will build on each other’s experiences.
Story Walk Adventures
Carmela Marshall, TDSB
This session will introduce participants to facilitating a story walk at their own outdoor education sites or at local school yards. Various books will be shared that allow for student exploration and participation. A sample story walk will be available for viewing and participation. These walks can allow for students to participate at their own pace or an be led by a facilitator. Target is primary students but can be adapted for juniors as well.
Fire, food, and fun!
Ben Blakey, Crescent School
Campfires have always held a prominent place in many circles, but in today’s risk-averse world they can be tricky. Small cooking fires can be a great tool for bringing students outside to natural spaces in schools, and can often create memorable experiences. Cooking is a great way to bring people together for good conversations, and in many ways there are few things that bring people together as well as food. In this collaborative demonstration we will come together and cook a recipe over a campfire together. We will discuss how it can be used safely in schools or other settings to bring students together and also in some cases to connect curriculum in a fun and meaningful way. Anyone is welcome to attend to cook food and share good conversation, and there will be a particular focus on using this in elementary school settings.
How are district and school administrators enacting EE policies within a rural Ontario district school board
Floriane Leveder, OCDSB
Drawing on both neo-institutional and sense-making theories (Coburn, 2001; Marz, Kelchtermans & Dumay, 2016) I am working on an exploratory district case study comprising interviews and documentary analysis to get a finer understanding of how district and school administrators make sense of EE policies and regulations to enact them, in a rural Ontario school board.
If trees could talk
April Nicolle & Jennie Nicolle-Smith, Evergreen Brickworks
Good stories come from inside, but the best ones are those that we find through our experiences and relationships with nature. We will draw of those personal experiences of being in nature to discuss the process of crafting and sharing stories in the oral tradition.
How to Face the Climate Mess We’re In: Building Hope and Resilience
Pam Miller, TDSB & Bonnie Anderson, SCDSB
The tolls of the climate crisis on mental health are far reaching. Children and youth, many with few resources to deal with the impacts of climate change, are among those most impacted and can experience a range of responses from stress, panic attacks, insomnia to anxiety and depression. How can we strengthen both our own and our students’ capacity to face this crisis so that we can respond with resilience and active hope? Join us as we explore outdoor activities and insights from psychology that help students cope and take action on the climate mess we’re in.
Creative Nature Note-Taking
Participants will learn creative ways to journal their outdoors observations and experiences. Through guided meditations, participants will observe the natural world through their senses and then express their sensations through creative written or visual pieces. Various writing prompts will be used to help guide participants through the creative process.
Let’s Summarize, Plan and Act
Zabe MacEachren, Queen’s University
Sometimes it is only after I am able to wrap my head around and name a lot of complex, interconnective ideas that I feel balanced enough to make a plan to move forward on. This session does just that—it will summarize the big historical events that got us into the mess we are presently in regarding social justice and the climate crisis. Then it will explain the plan to move forward offered by The Green New Deal. The session will end with a specific curriculum activity designed for educators (adaptable to many grade levels) that places renewable energy technology in a taxonomy. By honouring how the earth is powered by the sun we learn what technology needs to be developed in order to humankind to zero emissions.
An introduction to Forest Therapy and Nature Connection
Sam White, YMCA Geneva Park
Sam White is a G.I.F.T (Global Institute of Forest Therapy) Certified Forest Therapy Guide. This introduction to Forest Therapy will offer an immersive experience in nature with mindful invitations to explore the senses, connect with nature, self and others. Exposure to the therapeutic quality of trees and nature regulates heart rhythms, reduces blood pressure, boost immune function, improves sleep, memory and creativity. We all carry the effects of trauma and stress. Forests can help us heal.
Natural Curiosity in the New Normal: Recovery and Reflection for Environmental Education
Danielle Marcoux-Hunter, Natural Curiosity
As more educators look to the outdoors as a safe learning space, Natural Curiosity’s transformative environmental inquiry pedagogy, deepened by an Indigenous lens, supports bringing environmental education into all education. Outdoor education, however, is not a new idea; it is strongly aligned with what many Indigenous nations in Canada and across the world have believed since time immemorial and continue to practice through living in reciprocity with the natural world. The Indigenous lens on Natural Curiosity provides a starting point for all educators to consider how Indigenous perspectives can inform practice over time, as they explore lasting connections to the natural world with their students. This workshop will guide participants through interactive activities including knowledge building and reflective discourse, and highlight exemplary educators who effectively and sensitively integrate inquiry, outdoor experiential learning, and Indigenous perspectives into a better normal that “breathes with the world”.
Eco-Inquiry: Eco-games Eco-Games spark inquiry for deeper ecological knowledge and action!
Jennifer Baron, Elementary Teacher and Environmental Education AQ Instructor
Students of all ages will become engaged in Eco-Games in their schoolyards. They involve scavenger hunts, secret codes, ecological literacy and sparks for further inquiry and action. NEW! Each Eco-Game card has an online version for hybrid players. Each Eco-Game has a matching virtual choice board and book suggestions with links to deepen knowledge, spark inquiry and engage eco-action. Learn how to set up Eco-Games in your schoolyard and make the most of the FREE resources on the www.ecoinquiry.ca website, including a NEW Eco-Inquiry podcast to support environmental and outdoor education where you teach.
Minka Chambers, SCDSB
This workshop will be a hands-on creative experience! Have you ever wanted to try painting a canoe paddle? Well, not only will you get to paint a paddle, you will also learn how to lead students through the design and painting process. Participants will be shown basic design ideas and the required equipment. Each participant will leave with a personalized custom paddle designed and painted throughout the day. Cost for participants is $40 (this includes take home paddle. Brushes, tape and paint to be used on site). Participants should wear/bring appropriate painters clothes. Please note that this will be a two-part workshop, with one session in the morning & then another in the afternoon to provide time for the first coat of paint to dry and apply additional coats as necessary.
Decolonized Forest School
Richard Peters, Eco Forest School Collaborative & Barbara Sheridan, Barrie Forest and Natural Learning School
Learning on the land or forest school has very deep roots in North America, as Nations across Turtle Island have not only had their children learning and living on the land, but their communities as well. Even with this long rich history of land-based learning, up until now Forest School Training has come from the settlers. Welcome to the Forest School Model that was co-created with and from traditional Annishinabe community members. In this workshop you will learn how to decolonize your Forest School model from Richard Peters, a Traditional Knowledge Keeper from Beausoleil First Nations who learned under Elder Vern Harper. Barbara Sheridan, who is a non native, has run a Forest School at Springwater Provincial Park, which is managed by Beausoleil First Nations and has created space for indigenous voices.
Critical Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE) for Sustainable Happiness and Wellbeing
Sara Deris Crouthers, York University/Peterborough GreenUP
O’Brien (2016) proposes that educational priorities should shift from employment and competition to sustainability, happiness and well-being. If happiness is central to our society’s collective vision of education, its priorities would shift dramatically (O’Brien, 2016). O’Brien presents this educational philosophy as a ‘living school’ (O’Brien & Howard, 2016). However, there does lie a danger in the pursuit of happiness: happiness for some is not happiness for all. What does it look like to do critical, anti-racist ESE that supports happiness and wellbeing for all? I propose a critical iteration of ESE focusing on community engagement, anti-racism, the Land, food, and effects of colonialism. This is doable even through the conventional curriculum particularly through interdisciplinary inquiry-based education. A guiding question such as, “what do plants do for us?” can lead students in an investigation that addresses science and technology, language and literacy, physical education and truth and reconciliation.
Plant Productions and Floral Fabrications
Kyle Clarke, Queen’s University
Let’s make some flowers and plants! Are you looking for some creative, hands-on activities that will connect your students with the local plants and flowers around your schoolyard or centre? In this workshop you will learn a variety of art techniques to preserve and reproduce local flora. While we get crafty, we will discuss how creating these representations might focus our student’s attention on the organisms being modelled—investigating plant structure, lifecycle, communities, and location/environment. You’ll have an opportunity to try your hand at simple embroidery and applique techniques, paper flower and plant construction, and simple block and stamp making techniques.
Connect before Content
Brent Evans, Katie Tanz & Kate Barrett, Upper Canada College Norval Outdoor School
With everyone in the world talking about learning loss due to school closures, most parents and educators are focused on how behind our students are. Everyone is looking for ways to catch them back up. Upper Canada College and The Norval Outdoor School have taken a different approach. Our teachers believe that, “our students aren’t behind, they are just learning at a different time.” Our school’s focus this year is on starting slow to go fast, and we are starting with connection. Without connection the best instructional strategies, or the most well-planned assessments, simply do not matter. Come learn all of the playful strategies we are using to connect our students to one another before we even start our academic program. What does a Free Play Forest, a DaVinci Bridge and a Catapult have to do with learning? Come find out in this hands on learning session. Let’s connect before content.
Plan for Wellness
Bonnie Anderson, Outdoor Environmental Education and Healthy Active Living Coordinator, SCDSB
Create your own tool box for mentally healthy schools and centres. Together, we will run through a variety of activities and discuss how to set up a Wellness Day for your school or simply create time during each day for mindful moments between programs and activities at an outdoor centre. Learn how you can contribute to a healthy school or a healthy OE centre. There will a balance in level of activity and also a chance to share your favourite wellness related activities and ideas.
…And much, much more!