PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TRAINING SERIES

Fenner Nature Center, in partnership with PNC, is proud to present a professional development training series for early childhood educators, administrators, and education professionals. Each seminar will focus on various aspects of the practical application of student-directed learning and the introduction of nature based philosophies into your classrooms.


“Taking Next Steps with Loose Parts” – Dr. Carla Gull, Inside Outside Michiana

March 10, 2023 – 10:00am-1:00pm

Have you ever wondered why children are drawn to sticks and cardboard boxes? Using hands-on and reflective approaches, explore how the theory of loose parts can enhance creativity and imagination in your setting. In this hands-on, how-to workshop, we will examine various approaches to loose parts as we develop a loose parts mindset, as well as the practical side of implementing loose parts in a variety of settings. Participants will brainstorm resources for building our own loose parts collections. We will also consider how to store and rotate loose parts. We’ll also experiment with seasonal loose parts—be ready to spend time both inside and out as we play, tinker, experiment, explore, and have fun with loose parts!


Digging Deeper with Loose Parts” – Dr. Carla Gull, Inside Outside Michiana

April 14, 2023 – 10:00am-1:00pm

You understand the basic concept of loose parts and are ready to take it to the next level! The term “loose parts” has grown in popularity recently as educators and parents have rediscovered this timeless approach to play. Loose parts play can be as simple as finding a stick and using it in play or it can take a more complex approach to open ended landscapes. We’ll dig a little more deeply to explore definitions of loose parts and debunk 7 loose parts myths in this research-based interactive workshop with practical examples and suggestions for expanding your loose parts offerings. We will explore deconstructive play, purposefully planning for loose parts, and evaluating loose parts.


“Outdoor Atelier Training & Consultation” – Rachel Larimore, Ph.D., Samara Early Learning

May 12, 2023 – 10:00am- 4:00pm

Young children need a rich workshop environment to create and make sense of the world around them. This includes outdoor play areas which serve as an extension of the classroom. This full-day workshop will focus specifically on designing natural outdoor play areas—for any budget—that support children’s holistic development. We’ll address design principles, licensing regulations, and how to bring the play area to life once it’s built—and much more!


“How to Create a Nature Playscape” – Fenner Nature Center Staff

June 9, 2023 – 10:00am- 4:00pm

Do you remember the days of jumping from stump to stump, making mud pies, and tightrope walking across that downed tree in the backyard? Is there a way to bring the wonder of that natural exploration into your academic landscape? Absolutely! Join Fenner staff for the construction of its nature playscape located at Fenners newly opened Nature Preschool. Topics ranging from how to conceive a project such as this, to material selection and construction will all be covered in this hands-on seminar.