Bright Ideas

Boston Conference Focuses on Nature-Based Learning in Urban Settings

Peg Smeltz

Photo by Bob Bailie

Learn how nature preschools and forest kindergartens are taking root in New England’s cities and countryside. The In Bloom in Boston: Best Practices in Urban Nature-Based Early Childhood Education Conference will be held on Tuesday, May 13, at Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center in Mattapan, Massachusetts.

Early-childhood and early-elementary educators, parents, and administrators interested in connecting children to nature are invited to this day of interactive workshops and discussion with Antioch University New England (AUNE) faculty. David Sobel, senior faculty at AUNE, will give the opening talk, “Why 21st Century Children Need Nature.” Pattie Bailie, AUNE Department of Education faculty member and founder of the Nature Preschool at Schlitz Audubon, Milwaukee, will give the keynote address, “Nature-Based Early Childhood in an Urban Setting.”


These field trips and workshops will take participants outdoors and indoors:

  • Little People and Little Bugs
  • What’s Going On Here? Taking a Closer Look at What’s Going on Outside
  • Creatures That Connect: Exploring Self, Other, and Environment Through Caring for Animals
  • The Dirt on Dirt
  • Integrating the Outdoors and Gardening into the Kindergarten Classroom  Curriculum
  • Who Needs a Classroom? Take 10 Steps Outside
  • Gardening, Worm Bins, and the Science Curriculum
  • Branching Out! Exploring Trees in the City


Registration is $75; $50 for AUNE alumni, Mass Audubon employees, or a group of three from the same organization. Learn more about In Bloom in Boston. For more information, contact Peg Smeltz,, or 603-283-2301.

The conference is co-sponsored by Mass Audubon and the George B. Storer Foundation.

Later that week, In Bloom: Promising Practices in Nature-Based Early Childhood Education, the third annual Nature Preschool/Forest Kindergarten Conference, will be held May 16-17 at the AUNE campus in Keene, New Hampshire. Find out more about that In Bloom conference.




conference, antioch