Taking School Outside: A Virtual Teacher Workshop on Forest Kindergartens and Nature Preschools

Registration is now closed. Please contact Katie Tipton with any questions. Thank you!


Forest Kindergartens and Nature Preschools are a growing movement nationally and right here in our state! Join us for an introductory-level conference and build your understanding of the research, pedagogy and approach within these programs. Learn about how they relate to play-based learning and get the chance to network with local educators in the field. Other opportunities include engaging in modeled activities and seeing other examples of outdoor classroom spaces. This series will focus on working with younger students, although the principles and ideas are applicable to older grades as well.

Indiana teachers may also receive Professional Growth Points by participating.

This FREE virtual workshop will take place over the course of two weeks via Zoom. Sessions will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays  (July 14th, 16th, 21st, 23rd) from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Register using the form below, please indicate which sessions you plan on attending. It is possible to attend 1 or 2 sessions, but we recommend attending each one as the information will build throughout the workshop.


  • Jean Lomino, Ph.D., Director of the Wauhatchie School (TN)
  • Education staff at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center
  • Staff at Oak Farm Montessori School (Avilla, IN) and Central Noble Primary (Wolf Lake, IN)

Session Information:

  • Session 1: Introduction to nature-based education models and the Merry Lea story (July 14th)
    • Learn about the nature-based early childhood education happening at Merry Lea! This session will give an overview of our partnerships with Central Noble Schools and the Cole YMCA in Kendallville. Participants will also gain insight into what forest-based education is.
  • Session 2: Forest schools and the research behind the movement (July 16th)
    • This session will cover what makes forest based schools different from traditional school settings. A guest speaker from Wauhatchie School will present on the ideology that guides the pedagogical approaches (play-based learning/place based learning, developmental needs). This session will conclude by providing research that provides justification into this educational model.
  • Session 3: Theory to Practice: Sit Spots (July 21st)
    • What exactly are sit spots and why are they important? In this session, participants will learn about this unique activity and discuss the importance of developing a sit spot routine. Then get a chance to practice this technique!
  • Session 4: Virtual Site Visits (July 23rd)
    • In this session, participants will have the opportunity to “visit” multiple sites and see different spaces and set-ups used for forest school. This will be a time that participants can learn how to organize their space to be efficient and functional. Sites include Oak Farm Montessori School (Avilla, IN) and Central Noble Primary (Wolf Lake, IN). 

**Session topics may change slightly as schedules are finalized