In Bloom in Keene: Promising Practices in Nature-based Early Childhood Education Set for Friday, May 16

Erin Kenny, director of Cedarsong Nature Preschool on Vashon Island, Washington will lead the list of presenter for this year’s In Bloom in Keene conference to be held from 9:00am to 4:00pm on Friday, May 16, at AUNE. She will be presenting “Forest Kindergartens and Nature Pedagogy as her keynote, as well as a workshop, “How Nature Immersion Benefits ADHD and Autistic Children.”

The afternoon keynote will be Ann Pelo, a teacher-educator, consultant and author from Seattle, sharing “The Goodness of Rain: A Year of Natural Explorations with a Young Child.” In addition, she will present a workshop on “The Sense of Wonder: Practices for Cultivating an Ecological Identity.”

Other presentations include:

  • “Discovering Montessori Outdoors: The Naturally Prepared Environment,” with Cindi Page Rapoza of Little Peeps Montessori Naturskola in Little Compton, Rhode Island
  • “Sticks and Faeries: A Waldkindergarten’s Perspective on Gender,” with Kristen Smyrni and Katie Roberts of Natick Organic Commmunity Farm in Natick, Massachusetts
  • “Making and Using Felted Animals  and Story Cloths to Complement Outdoor Discoveries,” with Janet Altobello of The Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock, New Hampshire
  • “On the Beaten Path: Utilizing Natural Materials to Explore the World of Rhythm,” with Deb Kardane of Academy Elementary School in Brattleboro and Todd Roach of Kindle Farm School in Newfane, Vermont
  • “Why We Build Fires: Cultivating Attention: Observation, and Tenderness by Teaching with Fire” with Amy Butler and Lindsey Vandal of the Northbranch Nature Center in Montpelier, Vermont
  • “Storytelling on the Spot” with Amy Fredland of Sophia’s Hearth Family Center in Keene, New Hampshire
  • “The Yucky and the Dangerous: Risk Management in Nature-based Early Childhood Education” with Anne Stires of Juniper Hill School in Alna, Maine.
  • “Playing with Natural Systems: Designing School Grounds” with Ginny Sullivan of Conway School/Graduate Program in Sustainable Landscape Design, Conway, Massachusetts
  • New this year is an Evening Campfire program, “Froggy Went A’Courtin’,” with Susie Spikol Faber of the Harris Center for Conservation Education, and Mary DesRosiers, folk-heritage musician and contradance caller.
  • Conference participants are also invited to attend the May Festival and Plant Sale on Saturday, May 17 at Sophia’s Hearth Family Center in Keene.

The cost for the day-long conference is $125 for general registration, $100 for a team of four from the same organization, $75 for AUNE alumni and $50 for current matriculated students. Register Here.

Find more information here, or contact Peg Smeltz, 603-283-2301, or email