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Connecting Children with Nature

Presented and supported by Early Childhood Education faculty and dedicated to what is new and current in the local, provincial, national and global scene relating to the activities, research and collaborations concerning children and the natural world.

The World Forum Nature Action Collaborative for children issued a Call to Action in July 2008 with the purpose of strengthening children’s relationship with the natural world.  Humber College Early Childhood Educators, in partnership with the Centre for Urban Ecology are responding to the call by initiating various programs and events that bring together students, teachers, educators and professionals from different disciplines.

It is imperative that as a community, children experience the natural world every day and in multiple ways. The opportunities for children to experience, manipulate, discover and learn from nature have diminished in recent years.  As adults, we have the responsibility to reverse this pattern and find ways together to embrace the distinct value that connection with the natural environment brings to the child’s life.

Welcome to the place where we can make a difference to ourselves and the children we nuture!  
At Humber, we have engaged in a variety of initiatives and projects that work towards connecting children, youth and adults with nature.

Nature Prompts for the Early Learning & Care Educator

Humber College in partnership with The Back to Nature Network, is excited to offer “Ready...Set...Wonder!” a new guide to assist early childhood education professionals in providing opportunities for children to connect with nature on a regular basis. 

In this practical guide you will find a large number of nature prompts for the early learning and care educator that are simple, and easy to introduce with readily available materials.

To get the most out of the guide and the principles the prompts are based upon, we recommend using it in its entirety. 

Thank you to the early learning and care community across Ontario for providing input, and the following organizations for offering support during creation of the guide: Royal Botanical Gardens, Evergreen, Forest School Canada, YMCA of Greater Toronto, and Nature of Kids.

ready set wonder pdf

Download: English French

Disclaimer: Use of the Ready…Set…Wonder guide is at the user's discretion. Humber College will not be liable or responsible for any damages, errors, omissions, injuries, misuse, or dissatisfaction caused by downloading and/or using the guide. It is the user's responsibility to ensure that the activities in the guide are carried out safely, and adhere to the standards and/or curriculum laid out by the user's institution and governing body.

Nature Workshops with an IPE Model

  • A research study was completed that involved 5 workshops offered to ECE, OTA & PTA, Horticulture students and the impact on interprofessional education on connecting with nature
  • Results indicated a strong preference from students to learn and experience this together across disciplines

Workshop Testimonials:

"I learned so much about what horticulture is."
"I loved meeting students from other programs and hearing different opinions and ideas."
"Being outside together was the best!"

Places of Natural Discovery Conference (P.O.N.D)

What is P.O.N.D? The Places of Natural Discovery Conference (P.O.N.D) Conference has been presented by the Early Childhood Education program in partnership with the Arboretum and Centre for Urban Ecology. 

This event began in 2009 and was an annual event for 5 years concluding in 2014.

It focused on connecting children with nature; the educator’s relationship to nature, design of children’s outdoor playspace, involving parents in nature education, using natural materials in early learning environments and developing relationships amongst educators, landscape and horticulture specialists and gardeners. 

Participants represent various front line ECE positions, supervisor and directors, kindergarten teachers, boards of education representatives, government policy researchers, family and community centres, and individual educators. Keynote presenters include experts in their field and many disciplines were represented: photographers, researchers, ECE's, Kindergarten teachers, new graduates, horticulturalists, landscape architects, playground inspectors and builders, parents, nature interpreters, authors, occupational therapists, artists and more.

Participants enjoyed workshops that varied in focus; the use of natural materials, planting with children, outdoor activities, and issues of outdoor playspace for children of varying abilities and more. Student work was displayed as well as a nature based silent auctions which raised money for student initiatives in nature at Humber.


"POND changed my life, I now look at nature with children so differently; with joy and wonder!"  
"I learned that we never say ‘yuk’ when we look at worms or spiders, but ‘wow’!!"  
"I’ve loved the workshops and learned so much about my own enjoyment of nature that I had forgotten as an adult."

(Logo credit: Created by children in Mrs. Crowther's kindergarten class, and it became the POND symbol)

Curriculum Thread

In the ECE program, there are threads of focus that we are proud to introduce students to as they arrive at Humber. One of these is to examine the impact on wellness that nature and the outdoors brings to both the child and adult. In each semester, the Humber ECE student experiences this in various ways both during their academic, field and volunteer work.

Continuing Education Course Offering “Connecting Children with Nature”

The first certificate course was offered and completed in May-June 2014. The participants experienced 5 workshops that were presented by a multidiscipline group of experts. 

Course Testimonials:

"A lot of hands-on activities and lots of good games that we could take back to our classrooms."
"A good balance of theory and outside time."
"Packed a lot into this workshop and it was all good information/good activities."


Humber Arboretum  
Nature programs and events are offered to childcare centres, schools and community groups.

Back to Nature Network
The Back to Nature Network is committed to fostering our children’s connection with nature.

A leading national funder and facilitator of local, sustainable greening projects.

Children and Nature Network 
Providing a link between those dedicated to children’s health and well-being.

World Forum Nature Action Collaborative 
For the well-being of children and their connection with nature.