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In Bloom in Vermont: Engaging with Pre-K to 3rd Grade Students in Winter

March 23, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm EDT

children walking through the snow in a forest

Antioch University New England hosts three In Bloom east coast conferences this spring:

  • In Bloom in Vermont (Brattleboro, VT) – Saturday, March 23, 2019
  • In Bloom in Maine (Kittery, ME) – Saturday, April 27, 2019
  • In Bloom in Western Mass (Amherst Massachusetts) – June 8, 2019

We are co-sponsoring a similar conference in partnership with the Teton Science Schools in Jackson, WY:

  • In Mud in Wyoming (Jackson, Wyoming) – April 27, 2019

Antioch University New England will host three spring east coast In Bloom conferences, starting appropriately on the third day of spring, March 23, 2019 in Brattleboro, Vermont. We’re well aware there will not be much in bloom in March. So, this year we’ve assigned an “in bloom in snow” theme to In Bloom in Vermont. At this event we’ll be focusing on how to work with children outdoors in winter.

In Bloom in Vermont will also have an expanded age range of pre-school through 3rd grade. This is in response to the many 1st through 3rd grade teachers who are also moving their curriculum out into the woods and fields around their schools. Please invite your elementary teacher colleagues!

Register Here for In Bloom in Vermont

Registration Information

Workshop sign-ups will be done at the registration check-in on the morning of the conference. Please read the conference brochure in advance to determine your preferred workshops. We will open registration at 8:00 am. Morning beverages and refreshments will be available.


  • Working Professional: $125
  • Group Rate: (per person for 3 or more from the same organization) $100
  • AUNE Alumni and Co-Sponsors: $75
  • AUNE Students: $50


Antioch University New England accepts credit cards and checks as payment. If your school/organization is paying by check, please complete the business section of the registration form for invoicing purposes.

Morning Keynote:

Eliza Minnucci/strong>, Educational Consultant, ForestKinder, Tunbridge, Vermont, Adjunct Faculty, Antioch University New England, Keene, NH

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: The Outdoorsification of Vermont Public Schools

What happens when Kindergarteners start spending more time in the wildspaces beyond the school building? Many things, of course. Inspired by Kindergarten Forest Days, children across the grades in some Vermont elementary schools are spending significantly more time outdoors. Woven together from the reflections of teachers, Eliza brings you the story of the Forest Day movement and the effect it is having beyond its kindergarten roots.

Eliza Minnucci was raised in Deerfield, New Hampshire but now calls Tunbridge, Vermont home. Before teaching Kindergarten in Quechee, she taught young children in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, Chicago, Seattle and Fort Yukon, Alaska. On hiatus from the kindergarten classroom, she supports teachers in cultivating nature-based play and learning for their students through consultation and teaching the Nature-based Early Childhood Curriculum course at Antioch University New England. She is a frequent presenter at In Bloom conferences throughout New England. She is the author, with Meg Teachout, of A Forest Days Handbook: Program Design for School Days Outside, published in 2018

Morning Workshop:

Coyote Mentoring with Young Children
Amy Hyatt, Co-Director, Vermont Wilderness School

Stick Play: The Power of Imagination
Anne Stires: Founder and Director, Juniper Hill School for Place-based Education, Alna, ME

Snow Pants, Mittens, Hats . . . ELA? Yes!: Fun Activities to do in the Snow
Amanda Hull & Lauren Skilling, Kindergarten Teachers, Hartland Elementary School, Hartland, VT

Starting a Nature Preschool in a Public School
Emma Hallowell and Erin Tkaczyk, Nature Preschool Teachers, Guilford Central School, Guildford, VT

Mapping and Sense of Place
Hannah Lindner-Finlay, Kindergarten Teacher, Putney Grammar School, Putney, VT

Protocols for Wild Plant Foraging with Young Children
Ken Benton, Educator, North Branch Nature Center, Montpelier, VT

Lunchtime Gathering:

Gonna Get Myself Connected!

Liza Lowe, Director Wild Roots Nature School, Chesterfield, NH

New England Network of Nature-based Early Childhood Educators (NENNECE) has formed in response to a growing interest in nature-based education. The purpose is to provide a network for early childhood educators throughout New England to connect with one another, share ideas and resources, and support each other in providing high quality nature-based learning opportunities throughout the region. Interested in collaborating with like-minded colleagues? Curious how to start a group in your neck of the woods? Join us as we explore ways to grow NENNECE, design a newsletter, and further organize our New England Network moving forward.

During the lunch hour, we will also show the short documentary film, The Best Day Ever: Forest Days in Vermont Kindergartens. The movie was filmed in public school kindergartens in Hartland and Norwich, Vermont and illustrates the benefits of one day each week spent outside, year-round, with Kindergarten children.

Afternoon Keynote:

Eight Owls, Eight Kindergartners, Two Teachers

Anne Stires, Founder and Director, Juniper Hill School for Place-Based Education, Alna, ME

What happens when something in the natural world piques children’s curiosity, and teachers notice and respond? A curriculum adventure emerges that links seasonal changes, day and night, work and play, science, literacy and more. Anne’s story of an owl study began when a five-year-old brought in a book about owls that his grandmother had given him and the children spontaneously began to play a game called “owl families getting ready for winter.” The classroom came alive with the buzz of questions: Where do the owls go in the winter? What owls live here in Maine? How do owls eat?


A portrait of A. Stires

Anne Stires is the founder, director, and lead teacher at Juniper Hill School in Alna, Maine. She has worked with AUNE on In Bloom conferences since their beginnings, and serves as adjunct faculty with the Nature-based Early Childhood Certificate Program. She is a contributing author to Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens: The Handbook for Outdoor Learning.

Afternoon Workshop:

Forest Friday Foodies
Jennifer Newberry and Amanda Morse, Kindergarten Teachers, Marion Cross School, Norwich, VT

The Power of Creativity in a Natural Environment
Marghanita Hughes, Director, Educating the Heart through Nature Art, Kelowna, British Columbia

Let’s Talk about Tracking: Following Stories in the Snow
Deb Kardane, Academic Support Teacher, Academy Elementary School, Brattleboro, VT
Joan Carey, Environmental Educator, Bonnyvale Environmental Center, Brattleboro, VT

Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Gentle: Cultivating Care and Responsibility Through Authentic Nature Play
Emily Pals, Nature Program Coordinator, Four Winds Nature Institute, Chittendon, VT
Joanne Pye, Early Childhood and Special Educator, formerly at Caverly Preschool, Pittsford, VT

Working with Special Needs in Outdoor Settings
Anne Ouwerkerk, Preschool Teacher, New London, NH

Connecting to Wintertime Activities Through Imagination, Story and Movement
Carla Comey, Faculty, Education Department, Antioch University New England, Keene, NH


George B. Storer foundation logo


March 23, 2019
9:00 am - 4:00 pm EDT


Academy Elementary School
650 Western Ave
Brattleboro, VT 05301 United States
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Peg Smeltz

Antioch University and Otterbein University Announce Intention to Form First-of-Kind National University System.

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