Nature-Based Early Childhood Class and Badge


Nature-Based Early Childhood Class and Badge

Bold text in all caps says, "Urban Ecology Center" Under that is red, cursive text that says, "So much life"

This course explores (online, Mondays, August 1, 8, 15, & 22, 5:30-8:30 PM Central) the essential elements of early childhood education and environmental education along with the synergy gained by combining these disciplines into Nature-based Early Childhood (NbEC). Synchronous online instruction will scaffold experiences that demonstrate what makes urban NbEC unique and effective. The modules are designed to accomplish early childhood learning goals, to encourage outdoor exploration, and to inspire curiosity. These help us build future scientists and teachers. The online format gives participants the central knowledge required to create, conduct, and evaluate indoor and outdoor nature-based programs, particularly for children up to 6 years old. Special consideration and emphasis will be given to accomplishing curriculum and experiential goals within densely populated urban spaces and locations with limited access to nature.

Completion of the course also results in the awarding of an Alverno College Badge, from the School of Adult Learning and New Initiatives. Participants can also register to earn three college credits (undergraduate and graduate credits are available).


Early Childhood Education

  • Pedagogy behind the physical and emotional growth in early childhood – including the latest research on early learning and brain development.
  • Importance of positive, early learning experiences and the social-emotional skills required for building healthy relationships and communities.
  • Industry guidelines, principles and assessments in early childhood education
  • Designing age appropriate early childhood experiences for children ages 1 to 6. 

Environmental Education

  • Introduction to a myriad of teaching resources and tools for environmental education and outdoor exploration.
  • Exploring the concept of biodiversity – identifying native flora and fauna, understanding the elements of an ecosystem and discovering the importance of habitat quality.
  • Analyzing the systems and cycles of nature to understand our role within them and how they can be models for early childhood experiences.
  • Identifying age-appropriate natural concepts for children six and under and how those concepts are essential for future scientific learning.

Urban Nature-based Early Childhood Education

  • Explain the benefits of Nature-based Early Childhood, the importance of outdoor play in learning and the advantages of embracing emergent curriculum.
  • Enumerate the preparations for leading urban outdoor exploration – including proper scaffolding of information, group management techniques, establishing clear boundaries, appropriate outdoor clothing, essential supplies list, and risk vs. hazard assessments.