We believe every child has a right to free play outside. Share your stories of supporting every child’s right to play in nature on social media with the hashtag NatureForAllChildren.
Prescott College Center for Nature & Place
The Prescott College Center for Nature and Place was established to support and expand training for early childhood educators, pre-service teachers, administrators, and program directors in developmentally appropriate nature and place-based pedagogy. Founded in 2016 with support from the George B. Storer Foundation, the Center is housed in and integrated with Prescott College’s Department of Education and Teacher Preparation.
The Center focuses on designing innovative nature and place focused college course curricula for Prescott College students in the Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education undergraduate and graduate programs. It also offers residential professional development institutes and outreach workshops that provide training and experiential learning opportunities for early childhood educators across Arizona and beyond, including the Summer Institute for Nature and Place-Based Early Childhood Education.
The Center provides opportunities and support for student research on the effectiveness of nature and place-based early childhood teacher education and outdoor learning activities in order to add to current professional knowledge in the field. The center actively seeks opportunities to collaborate with other higher education institutions, schools, and organizations in implementing nature and place-based teacher training initiatives and related research projects.
Learn more about our programs
Summer Institute for Nature- and Place-based Early Childhood Education
Join us June 8-12, 2020, for an inspiring, hands-on, and experiential professional development event in beautiful Prescott, Arizona. Collaborate with a passionate and diverse group of early childhood educators during our 5-day early childhood educator Summer Institute.
Participants will discover:
- What nature-and place-based early childhood education is and why it’s such a hot topic in ECE today.
- Ways to align their current teaching practices with the pedagogy of nature-and place-based learning.
- How to plan nature-and place-based experiences for young children that are developmentally and culturally appropriate, inclusive, and linked to early learning standards.
- Effective strategies to advocate for nature- and place-based activities in their program and community.
- Current advocacy efforts for increasing inclusive and equitable access by all children to nature- and place-based learning.
- Potential community resources and partnerships for increasing inclusive and equitable access to natural environments for children and families.
Half-day Introductory Workshop to Nature- and Place-based Pedagogy & Practice
Have you heard the buzz about the benefits of bringing nature and place inside the classroom?
Designed with the whole school in mind, this half-day workshop provides professional development to early childhood through elementary school teachers on nature- and place-based learning. Workshop presenters work with administrators and teachers prior to the event to tailor discussion topics and resource materials to site specific needs and opportunities.
Possible topics include:
- Academic and social-emotional benefits of providing students with access to green space
- Methods for enriching the existing curriculum with nature- and place-based pedagogy
- How to support children’s growth in developmental domains using natural materials
- Nature playscape design
- Garden curriculum
- Supporting students with special education needs, and more!
Online Professional Development Modules
Inclusive Nature- & Place-based Math and Science Methods
This online professional development opportunity is designed with in-service teachers in mind. In this 8-week self-pacecd module, participants will:
- Identify connections among concepts in early childhood STEM and nature- and place-based experiencesIdentify connections among concepts in early childhood STEM and nature- and place-based experiences
- Describe practices for integrating nature- and place-based methods into early childhood STEM explorations
- Create project-based curriculum that utilizes scientific exploration, mathematical modeling, technology tools, and engineering practices to expand on children’s nature- and place-based play in early childhood programs
Upon successful completion of this learning module, participants will recieve a certificate for 15 hours of professional development in nature- and place-based methods.
2020 Session: October 5 – November 29
Registration opens September 1.
Dirt Alert! A Podcast Connecting Research to Practice
The podcast that connects research to practice in the field of Nature-based Early Childhood Education. Episodes will expose listeners to a variety of introductory topics being explored in current nature- and place-based learning research as well as to a variety of programs using nature- and place-based learning.
Episodes will identify major topics in the field of nature and place based early childhood education, describe ways programs or schools can integrate nature- and place-based learning in early childhood education (e.g. forest preschool, forest fridays, gardens, nature- and place-integration into the classroom, etc.), and discuss how to apply emerging research to teaching practices.
ECE & ECSE Degree Programs at Prescott College
Prescott College offers a several online pathways in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education.
Earn your B.A., post-baccalaureate certification, or M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education or Early Childhood Special Education! Nature- and place-based learning topics are integrated throughout courses in these programs, giving graduates a one-of-a-kind experience to bring to their teaching practice!
Meet our staff
Sarah is a passionate educator and advocate for early childhood education and environmental education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Education and a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from Prescott College, where she now works as Associate Faculty and leads the Center for Nature and Place. Sarah loves providing educators with the training, tools, and support they need to bring nature-based learning into their classrooms as well as finding ways to bring environmental education to all young children and families.
Center Programs Coordinator
Allison Houtz is a passionate, lifelong advocate for children and families. She’s worked in early education at large for the past 16 years, through teaching, leadership, child advocacy, parent training, and early childhood coaching. Allison currently serves college students and early educators as the Center Programs Coordinator and as Associate Faculty at Prescott College through training, instruction, and advising. She’s dedicated to bridging the gap between early education and mental health efforts in rural communities.