Learning to Play and Playing to Learn with Nature: Finding our Rhythm

For four years the York Region Nature Collaborative has been offering  The Rhythm of Learning in Nature a unique five-day intensive professional learning opportunity during the summer. Last year, we decided to call the week, a knowledge retreat because the depth of our learning that occurs when we play together outside!

Each year, the week takes on a certain flavour depending on the facilitators, the participants and our collective experiences. For Rhythm2018 we have so much to pack in we almost need another day or two! Good news is that we do have one bonus day for attendees! From August 13th to 18th, Monday to Saturday, like-minded educators will learn to play and play to learn in and with nature. For the first five days we will be at beautiful Swan Lake in Richmond Hill, Ontario. For our final day on August 18th we will close off our week together at the majestic Kortright Centre for Conservation in Vaughan, Ontario. Both locations are in York Region. The week will be filled with all the ingredients needed to for a full course of professional learning!

Spending six days engaged in learning about outdoor play, nature pedagogy, messy maths, Reggio-inspiration, documentation, natural curiosity and Indigenous perspectives may be too much of a commitment, but it is one that our facilitators promise will be worth it! We do have a one-day option that will give you taste of the week on August 18th. You can register here for Rhythm of Learning in Nature which gives you all six days or you register for I am a Teacher Get Me OUTSIDE on August 18th if you can’t join us for the full week.

Hungry to know more! At the Rhythm of Learning in Nature the food is always good! One of our facilitators, Rosalba Bortolotti has a strong interest in the languages of food as inspired by the philosophy of the Reggio Emilia Approach. She always makes sure we eat well and keep local with farm fresh goodness.

This year, five of our facilitators, Laurel Fynes, Tanya Farazaneh, Diane Kashin, Cindy Green and Rosalba attended the Canadian Reggio Emilia Study Tour in March so expect the inspiration from that experience to be incorporated throughout our time together.

In addition, we have the great fortune to have Tanya Murray, an outdoor educator extraordinaire who brings forest school practices, a strong knowledge of the environmental Natural Curiosity inquiry approach and enthusiasm for all things outdoors! We hope to have Tanya introduce our week by sharing how environmental inquiry can be used by adults and children. In keeping with this important ingredient to our week we will have Hopi Martin join us to help us learn about becoming aware of Indigenous perspectives and their importance to outdoor and nature experiences for adults and children. If that wasn’t enough, we have a guest facilitator all the from Scotland! Juliet Robertson, another outdoor educator extraordinaire and author of Dirty Teaching: A Beginners Guide to Learning Outdoors and Messy Maths: A Playful Outdoor Approach for Early Years will add even more flavour to our time together. Juliet will be the featured keynote speaker at the August 18th event and we are excited to have Parentbooks there who will not only have Juliet’s books for purchase but Parentbooks is a proud distributor of Reggio Children publications so all those hard to get amazing resources will be available.

Each day begins at 9 am with an opportunity to connect and discuss. Each afternoon we focus on outdoor experiences where we learn about core routines, nature connection, tracking, bird language, mapping, nature journaling, questioning, sit spots and more! We finish at 3 pm but we have two optional evening events available at a minimal additional cost including a visit to the amazing Seneca College Newnham Campus Labschool, a Reggio-inspired environment that celebrates the image of the child both indoors and outdoors. This year we excited to see the amazing Many Layers of Paint Exhibit there.

We also offer a spiritual paint experience for adults at Stretching Canvas Yoga and Paint Studio that was a big hit last year with our participants. The week’s offering also comes with an on-site forest school camp which is like our secret ingredient! Do you want to learn more about forest school practices? Here is your chance.  Some of our participants in the past have signed up their own children!

Please join us either for the full meal deal – The Rhythm of Learning in Nature 2018  or for the delicious final course – I am a Teacher Get Me OUTSIDE on August 18th


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