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

March 23 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

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:

Marghanita Hughes, Director, Educating the Heart through Nature Art, Kelowna, British Columbia

The Importance of Nature Art

What does it mean to be rooted, and how can we stay rooted in nature, even during winter?  Marghanita believes that nature art can play a central role. It can also heal, and bring peace and balance to a world that desperately needs harmony.  We are all artists, and the joy that comes through understanding our deep-rooted connection with nature can be expressed through our art, strengthening our love.  Learn how to actively engage children with nature, in every season, through soulful art activities that foster love for the natural world.  Peace, joy, and imaginative play become our constant companions when the heart is open to the benefits of nature.


Marghanita Hughes Marghanita Hughes is an educator, artist, author and illustrator, deeply committed to reuniting children with the natural world through art. She is the founder of “Educating the Heart with Nature Art,” an international program for educators, parents, and organizations wishing to reconnect children with nature and encourage them to explore and celebrate their creativity. She is also a member of Artstarts. Her art projects focus on the interconnectedness we have with one another and all living things, and can be integrated into any curriculum.

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?


Anne 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



Windham Southeast Supervisory Union
Wild Roots Nature School
North Branch Nature Center

Register Here


March 23
9:00 am - 4:00 pm


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