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Workshops

Friday Workshops: Session 1

There are 4 workshops to choose from. You will make your selection when you register.

Julie Frew: Occupational Therapist, Kaiwhakaora Ngangahau

Julie Frew is a registered occupational therapist, bringing 14+ years of specialised experience alongside children and their families, supporting their sense of self, and their meaningful relationships with others and the world around them. She has completed post-graduate study in using sensory processing principles with diverse populations and additional training(s) in the use of psycho-sensory intervention, attachment and trauma-informed care. Julie draws heavily on the restorative power of music and a deep connection to the natural world in her work.

In occupational therapy we see ‘doing’, ‘being’, ‘becoming’ and ‘belonging’ as central to human health and wellbeing; integrating our body, feeling and thinking life, having agency, and developing in the context of relationships. Julie’s holistic work has a sound underpinning in neuroscience, drawing on the Neurosequential model, Polyvagal theory, and linking this with the day to day activity people find meaning in. Julie practises her sensory processing and trauma-responsive work within a Neurodiversity paradigm.

OPTION 1: All Behaviour is Communication – A deeper dive

The afternoon workshop will build on the morning session, taking a deeper dive into the neurobiology of sensory processing and the interface this has with our social-emotional development. We will discuss how developmental trauma and neurodivergence (or a combination) might impact on behaviour, engagement and participation.

Participants will learn: • The importance of self-compassion when it comes to supporting complex behaviour, and how to practise this in-the-moment • To practise discerning the ‘why’ behind behaviour and what a child might be communicating • How to pro-actively assess and balance factors that contribute to optimal arousal for learning/development/play • More about sensory processing in the outdoor classroom, and how to move from one-size-fits-all to adapting for individual needs.

There will be time for questions, discussion and application to your setting. As long as there is no identifying information disclosed, specific case examples are very welcome.

Tracy Irving, Environmental Educator Christchurch City Council

Tracy is an environmental educator with the Learning Through Action team in the Parks Unit at Christchurch City Council. Immigrating from Canada to New Zealand in 2006, Tracy left a career in zoo keeping to pursue her passion for education. Her teaching qualification, coupled with a degree in Animal Science led her to a variety of roles working with children; and infinite opportunities to get her hands dirty while exploring in Nature.

Tracy has spent more than 10 years in primary schools with a focus on getting children outside of the classroom to deepen their appreciation of their natural spaces, maintaining a holistic approach to learning. Currently with Christchurch City Council, Tracy runs immersive educational programmes for young people from y0 to y13 from schools and learning centres across Canterbury. She creates and further enhances learning around New Zealand’s unique and threatened biodiversity, waste management and sustainability.

OPTION 2: What’s Bugging You?

Children are naturally fascinated by the biodiversity around them. So, apart from this fascination and a willingness to be amazed with what’s hiding in plain sight, what else will help you to support investigations into the world of mini-beasts? This workshop will look at basic information around our local critters including heaps of habitats, some identification tools, helpful equipment, where to find our buggy friends, their life cycles, and the important roles bugs play to keep Nature in balance.

Ann Langis: Director, Ann Langis Play

Ann is a passionate advocate for play, particularly in outdoor, nature-based settings. She has over 25 years’ experience working alongside children from ECE through to college, as well as a master’s degree in Education from Harvard University.

The birth of her own 3 children led to years of involvement in Playcentre where Ann supported hundreds of children and their parents to take the leap into nature, whether just outside the centre door, or on dedicated outdoor sessions. She went on to become the co-founder and Director of Conscious Kids Devonport Ltd, offering nature-based school holiday programmes for ages 5-12, and now delivers professional development and coaching through her consultancy Ann Langis Play Ltd., as well as the loose parts play programme Junky Monkeys.

When she’s not thinking about play, writing about play, or talking about play, she can be found outside playing, generally climbing a tree or having an impromptu boogie in the grass!

OPTION 3: Sticks and Stones… Understanding and Managing Play Fighting in Nature-Based Settings

When you allow children to follow their own interests through nature play, you will see fairies mixing potions, Mums and Dads building shelters for the baby, and construction workers relocating sand at the beach. You will also see play fighting, and lots of it. Many of us (mostly female) teachers feel quite challenged by children (mostly boys) engaging in this type of play, and we may find ourselves saying things like “We don’t play like that here because we don’t want any of you to be hurt… because we don’t want you even to pretend to hurt each other… because guns hurt people… because it’s not nice… because I said so.” Why do we say so?

Join us as we take a closer look at the theory and research around play fighting and consider practical strategies for managing this type of play.

Lawrence Tau: Systems Innovator, Healthy Families Ōtautahi Christchurch

He uri tēnei nō Ngāti Tahu / Ngāti Whaoa.

Systems Innovator in the Healthy Families Ōtautahi team, Lawrence has a strong passion for Ngā Taonga Tākaro (traditional māori games) and has been a part of the Taonga Tākaro movement in Waitaha.

Lawrence also leads a project called Te Pou o Te Whare which aims to increase opportunities for young people who are in state care to engage in physical activity, and to support those providing opportunities to better meet the needs of the young people. The outcome is that young people in care will have a greater chance to enjoy quality experiences in sport and recreation.

OPTION 4: Story telling through games

This hands-on workshop will explore how we can bring māori narratives to life through games that are unique to māori, which can then be on shared with both the children and adults in your communities.

Friday Workshops: Session 2

There are 4 workshops to choose from. You will make your selection when you register.

Colin Meurk: Landscape Ecologist – Fellow at Canterbury & Lincoln Universities & Manaaki Whenua Research Associate

Dr Meurk has adjunct positions at Canterbury and Lincoln Universities and is a Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Associate. His interests include biogeography, ecological restoration and design, landscape function, urban ecology, subantarctic islands, conservation biology, citizen science, people-nature connectivity and ‘futures’ solutions.

His contribution to landscape ecological modelling and optimised habitat patch networks has informed cultural landscape planning and design. He promotes and participates in community restoration projects, integrating biodiversity through cities and countryside.

Colin is on numerous councils, trusts, advisory and steering groups advocating for eco-sanctuaries, resilient/biophilic/national park cities, urban great walks, joined-up ecological thinking and eco-literacy. He has received a Christchurch Civic Award, Loder Cup, Ecology in Action Award, a Golden Foot Award for the Christchurch 360 Trail, supreme award for Horticultural Excellence at the 2012 Ellerslie International Flower Show, and most recently an ONZM. He currently supervises post-graduate students and runs a forum on “creative transitions to sustainable futures.

OPTION 5: The many dimensions of nature revealed through a walk in the park – transcending age and culture

Unstructured youthful curiosity can form a parallel universe to disciplined science, but they can both learn from each other at points of convergent exploration. We will go for a walk in similar space and time, but Colin cannot predict where the journey will take us. Colin will tell his own stories of plants, microbes, creatures, patterns and zonation at local to global scale, growth forms, adaptation, evolution, Matauranga Maori, cultural connection, sense of place, life cycle, food webs, succession and deep time.  So, where will the children take us as they explore their inclinations and build their story? Who knows what they will discover? Out of this interaction and symbiosis can come decolonised ecological literacy.  We have to try – hard, so the future citizens of mother earth know where, why, and how we need to travel.

Kirsten Simmons: CEO of Nature2classroom/ Director of Talking Tree Hill

Kirsten (Dip ECE, Bed, MEd) is a mother, registered teacher and child advocate for holistic wellbeing and planet kindness. Raised on the family farm in South Canterbury her love for nature, wellbeing, adventure and a lifelong commitment to bettering education began. She has been educating children and adults for 20+ years in Europe, Asia, and Australasia and spent her time researching, reflecting and observing what makes children’s hearts and minds sing.

She has founded Talking Tree Hill an outdoor creative educational facility based on beautiful Waiheke Island, and nature2classroom a creative nature education programme delivered online for schools and homeschoolers.

Kirsten’s vision is for equal access to creative nature education for children nationally and globally.

OPTION 6: Creativity and Nature education a must for your curriculum!

In this workshop we will explore how to successfully integrate creative nature education into your ECE centre or Primary School. Giving you tips, tricks and inspiration through proven NZ based research and practices. This workshop will empower you to walk away feeling grounded in the knowledge that you can develop your curriculum to be creative and collaborative and help children foster a deep connection to place and whenua. Helping children to develop authentic voice, thinking and behaviour awarenesses and teaching healthy minds and bodies. Yes! All by integrating more creative nature education into your curriculum.

Julie Wylie: Julie Wylie Musical Play

Julie Wylie MNZM founded the New Zealand Musical Parenting Association twenty six years ago. She is the founder of the musical play programme at the Champion Centre, Burwood Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand, where she is the senior music specialist. Julie has been invited to present music workshops and papers in many countries, including Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland.

She has received awards for her music leadership, and her music resources have won international awards. Julie was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

She has her own music school for mothers and babies and children aged 0-8 years, and is Co-Director of a Postgraduate online training programme in Play Therapy and Musical Play. Julie is currently involved in a research project at the Champion Centre, with mothers and their prematurely born infants.

OPTION 7: Singing and Saying, Moving and Playing, Exploring Each Moment Through Musical Play

Musical play and exploring nature go hand in hand. Children are able to tune into the sights and sounds of nature, with a sense of joy and wonder. Connection to the natural environment through sensory musical play, fosters children’s creativity and wellbeing, enabling them to experience the healing power of nature.

In this musical play workshop participants will learn ideas for music improvisation, daily routines and “threading the day with musical play”.  We’ll talk about singing in tune, echoes, musical patterning, creating visual scores from leaves, stones and sticks, dance patterns, musical expression, turn taking, and also large and small group plus solo play.

Lawrence Tau: Systems Innovator, Healthy Families Ōtautahi Christchurch

He uri tēnei nō Ngāti Tahu / Ngāti Whaoa.

Systems Innovator in the Healthy Families Ōtautahi team, Lawrence has a strong passion for Ngā Taonga Tākaro (traditional māori games) and has been a part of the Taonga Tākaro movement in Waitaha.

Lawrence also leads a project called Te Pou o Te Whare which aims to increase opportunities for young people who are state care to engage in physical activity, and to support those providing opportunities to better meet the needs of the young people. The outcome is that young people in care will have a greater chance to enjoy quality experiences in sport and recreation.

OPTION 8: Story telling through games

This hands-on workshop will explore how we can bring māori narratives to life through games that are unique to māori, which can then be on shared with both the children and adults in your communities.

Saturday Workshops: Session 3

There are 4 workshops to choose from. You will make your selection when you register. 

Please only select if you are attending both days of the conference. 

Sarah Goldberg: Mindful Nature Connection Guide

Sarah is originally from the US where she raised a family and worked in office environments until she felt the call to return to nature. The call was so strong she left her career, put everything in storage and followed her heart to New Zealand. At the age of 40 she learned how to tent camp and solo tramp, practice wellbeing through meditation, yoga, and mindful nature connection. She completed several mindfulness trainings and also became a certified ‘Nature Therapy Guide’ through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, based out of California.

Sarah draws from study in environmental science, biology, developmental psychology, contemplative & Earth wisdom. Through study and experience, she seeks insight and understanding on living in reciprocity and care with nature, self and community. Sarah is currently completing a graduate diploma in Sustainability & Outdoor Education at Ara. She is particularly interested in how transformational psychology, mindfulness and nature connection may support both human and environmental wellbeing as the impacts of our changing climate unfold. Sarah is active in conservation and believes that when we are caring for nature, we are caring for ourselves and when we are caring for ourselves, we are caring for nature.

OPTION 9:   Mindful Nature Connection

Drawing from practices of shinrin yoku forest bathing and mindfulness, this workshop will invite us into the present moment through our sensory connection with nature. Invitations for this session are designed to explore our own experience of reciprocity with nature while also bringing us together in community as we share with each other. This is a slow, gentle practice of being present on purpose, embodiment, sensory awareness and nature connection. During this workshop we will also practice mindful communication by listening and sharing with presence and an open heart.

From this workshop, you may gain inspiration and ideas on how to practice mindful nature connection in your own life for wellbeing, and also how to weave it into activities for the work you do with children and youth. These practices can increase our sense of wonder and curiosity about nature, ourselves and our community. Participants may also gain insight and a deeper understanding of how to care for the Earth in a kinder, more heartfelt way.

*Research suggests this practice may reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while increasing attention/focus, levels of empathy, stabilised moods, ability to remain calm/resilience during challenging times, and also increase our immune response.

Dani Lebo: The Eco School

Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au. I tipu ake au i raro ki ngā maunga Appalachia, I takaro ahau i te awa Passaic, Ko Atlantic te moana. Kei te noho au i Whanganui inaianei. Ka tiaki te maunga Ruapehu ki a āku tamariki. Ka whangai te wai o te awa tupua o Whanganui ki a rātou. Nō reira ngā mihi nui ki ngā tāngata whenua o aku kainga – te Atihaunui a Pāpārangi.

Dani Lebo lives on a small mixed-use permaculture farm in Whanganui with her husband, three children, and an assortment of animals. They run The ECO School – providing accessible sustainability education through permaculture courses, community workshops, and nature play programs. Dani has been an outdoor educator across a variety of settings and has also been a classroom teacher in the US and NZ. She currently is the forest educator at Whanganui Intermediate School and runs forest school teacher trainings across the country.

She is a fan of bushcraft, games, and storytelling and is working to creatively bring nature play into mainstream schooling in Aotearoa.

OPTION 10: Nature Educator Upskill – Knows, Shelters, & Story Telling

This workshop will help you gain confidence in three key areas that are important for any nature play program – storytelling, knot, and shelters. Great for experienced nature educators who feel the need to add a few tricks to their kete, or for new educators at the beginning of their journey.

We will explore using storytelling as part of a daily routine, and some tips and tricks to make educators feel confident as an oral story teller. We will look at how rituals and routines in a morning and afternoon circle time can enhance your program. You will see several methods of storytelling to use with ages preschool-secondary and have the chance to tell a story of your own.

We will also dive into practical skills of shelter-building and knot-tying. We will look at why these foundational skills are important for nature educators, and how they might fit into your program. And of course, I do love a good game or two, so be prepared to play around a bit too.

Giarne Harrison, Raranga by Giarne

Kō Ngāti Whātua tōku iwi; Nō Ingarangi, nō Airangi ōku tīpuna. Ko Giarne Harrison tōku ingoa.

Raranga/weaving helps connect people to te ao māori, their creative strengths and to the earth itself. Participants in Giarne’s workshops find themselves immersed in a sensory experience –it is tactile, smells lovely and you can lose yourself in the patterns and rhythm of weaving. Giarne’s teaching is collaborative, gentle and fun. She ensures a good grounding of tikanga is in every workshop as its an integral part of the craft.

For Giarne personally, creativity is a way to help heal. When she has a bad day she thinks “I can art myself out of this slump”. Her hope is that others will find solace in their creative passions as well.

Raranga makes use of a strong, resilient, familiar plant and turns it into decorative and functional items.

OPTION 11: Weave two flowers with harakeke (raranga putiputi)

Create 2 different styles of putiputi (flowers) from harakeke (flax). Learn how to make a “wind up rose” and an arum lily. This is an interactive workshop focused on learning some tikanga (cultural practices), te reo (language) and weaving skills. I run classes that are calm, fun and supportive.

Maximum of 10 people in this workshop. 

Ann Langis: Director, Ann Langis Play

Ann is a passionate advocate for play, particularly in outdoor, nature-based settings. She has over 25 years’ experience working alongside children from ECE through to college, as well as a master’s degree in Education from Harvard University.

The birth of her own 3 children led to years of involvement in Playcentre where Ann supported hundreds of children and their parents to take the leap into nature, whether just outside the centre door, or on dedicated outdoor sessions. She went on to become the co-founder and Director of Conscious Kids Devonport Ltd, offering nature-based school holiday programmes for ages 5-12, and now delivers professional development and coaching through her consultancy Ann Langis Play Ltd., as well as the loose parts play programme Junky Monkeys.

When she’s not thinking about play, writing about play, or talking about play, she can be found outside playing, generally climbing a tree or having an impromptu boogie in the grass!

OPTION 12: Nature Play for Babies and Toddlers (up to 2 yrs old)

Babies and toddlers in nature? Yes indeed! Your littlest tamariki need nature play just as much as our 3-4 year olds, but perhaps for different reasons. In this session we’ll consider the developmental needs of infants and toddlers, and the risks and benefits of nature play for them. For this session be prepared to get outdoors and view the natural environment from a baby’s eye view… but we’ll also share ideas for bringing nature play indoors when it’s not suitable or practical to be outside.

Saturday Workshops: Session 4

There are 4 workshops to choose from. You will make your selection when you register. 

Please only select if you are attending both days of the conference. 

Leo Smith: Director,  Nature School NZ Trust

Leo is a mother, a teacher and a firefighter, with a background in outdoor instructing and outdoor education and years of experience teaching in Secondary, Early Childhood and Primary levels.

Leo’s passion lies in connecting children with nature and being a part of the empowerment, growth and fulfilment that comes when children lead their own play and learning outside.

In her own time, Leo will usually be found up a cliff, in the bush or on the sea with family.

OPTION 13: Playing with ‘dangerous’ tools

Us adults all know how rewarding it can be to play with fire and knives! Some believe that kids shouldn’t use these ‘dangerous’ tools, as they might hurt themselves?! Leo’s workshop will introduce whittling, knife use, teaching knife use and using fire with children. We will also look at risk management for fire and knives, and safe operating procedures (SOP).

You will come out of this practical workshop having had a good play with some ‘dangerous’ tools, rigorous discussion and thought provocation and with your own SOP.

Celia Hogan, Nature Education Specialist + Founder and Lead Educator at Little Kiwis Nature Play

As a facilitator of outdoor and nature-based learning, Celia inspires ECE and primary teachers to look beyond the day-to-day challenges and find outdoor learning opportunities where kids can blossom. She is passionate about connecting children to nature and is a strong advocate for nature play, risky play, building resilience, and improving mental health and well-being through nature.

For the past 20 years she has worked for a variety of outdoor education organisations internationally, setting up, developing and running outdoor programmes, wilderness expeditions, leadership development programmes and establishing risk management and safety systems. Celia manages to juggle professional development training, speaking engagements, running her Bush Kindy sessions for pre-schoolers and their whanau and taking her own kids on mini adventures in nature.

OPTION 14:  Setting up and Teaching in the Outdoor Classroom

This is a practical workshop ideal for nature educators who are looking at how they can bring nature into their own outdoor environments and use it as a teaching space. We will take a walk through our Bush Kindy environment where we will consider how children play having discussions on schema, loose parts play, nature play and risky play. These discussions will help us identify what to think about when developing your outdoor space. We will finish up thinking about teaching in that space and with some tools for your kete.

Together we will experience some nature based activities within the space to build up confidence on how to use the outside space with your teaching. There will be time to share ideas, ask questions to extend your learning and expand your toolkit of ideas.

Giarne Harrison, Raranga by Giarne

Kō Ngāti Whātua tōku iwi; Nō Ingarangi, nō Airangi ōku tīpuna. Ko Giarne Harrison tōku ingoa.

Raranga/weaving helps connect people to te ao māori, their creative strengths and to the earth itself. Participants in Giarne’s workshops find themselves immersed in a sensory experience –it is tactile, smells lovely and you can lose yourself in the patterns and rhythm of weaving. Giarne’s teaching is collaborative, gentle and fun. She ensures a good grounding of tikanga is in every workshop as its an integral part of the craft.

For Giarne personally, creativity is a way to help heal. When she has a bad day she thinks “I can art myself out of this slump”. Her hope is that others will find solace in their creative passions as well.

Raranga makes use of a strong, resilient, familiar plant and turns it into decorative and functional items.

OPTION 15: Weave two flowers with harakeke (raranga putiputi)

Create 2 different styles of putiputi (flowers) from harakeke (flax). Learn how to make a “wind up rose” and an arum lily. This is an interactive workshop focused on learning some tikanga (cultural practices), te reo (language) and weaving skills. I run classes that are calm, fun and supportive.

Maximum  of 10 people each. 

Kirsten Simmons: CEO of Nature2classroom/ Director of Talking Tree Hill

Kirsten (Dip ECE, Bed, MEd) is a mother, registered teacher and child advocate for holistic wellbeing and planet kindness. Raised on the family farm in South Canterbury her love for nature, wellbeing, adventure and a lifelong commitment to bettering education began. She has been educating children and adults for 20+ years in Europe, Asia, and Australasia and spent her time researching, reflecting and observing what makes children’s hearts and minds sing.

She has founded Talking Tree Hill an outdoor creative educational facility based on beautiful Waiheke Island, and nature2classroom a creative nature education programme delivered online for schools and homeschoolers.

Kirsten’s vision is for equal access to creative nature education for children nationally and globally.

OPTION 16: Land Art; a Mindful Practice

In this workshop Kirsten will connect you to your place, your creativity through land art. We will use mindful nature education practices that can be used in your educational setting to develop the mind and body health of you, and your Tamariki. Everyday experiences, theories and teaching tips developed as part of ongoing research and development into connection to self others and the planet.

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