Donate Donate

ECHO Trainings

ECHO aims to improve child health outcomes and connect children to nature by bringing high-quality outdoor play and learning environments to all young children.

While indoor spaces at child care programs are often immaculate and engaging, outdoor spaces are often neglected. Through ECHO training opportunities, we hope to inspire, empower, and connect child care professionals in conversations and hands-on opportunities to learn how to create dynamic, natural, and engaging outdoor spaces.

We strive to ensure all trainings provide educators with tools and hands-on ways engage young children in outdoor spaces. Participants will have the opportunity to learn new content, practice new skills, and leave with ideas to implement in the classroom immediately. We regularly seek content knowledge experts, partners, and community supports to ensure our trainings embody best practice and have strong ties to local networks. To learn more, please email echo@nwf.org.

Upcoming Trainings

community members painting a mural

Family Engagement in Outdoor Play and Learning

Event DateNov. 4, 1-2:30PM MT

Event InfoRegister

young girl playing with toy truck in gravel and rocks

Affordable Play Settings in Outdoor Learning Environments

Event DateDec. 13, 6-7:30 PM MT

Event InfoRegister

ECHO summit

Nature Play at Home

Event DateJan. 19, 6-7:30PM MT

Event InfoRegister

 

Request a Training

 


Are you looking for new ways to enhance or use your outdoor spaces at your child care facility? ECHO offers a variety of training opportunities for early childhood professionals, directors, child care health consultants, and family child care providers. We are able to travel to your community to provide training supports to understand the importance of outdoor spaces, and reimagine traditional playgrounds. Browse our training opportunities below, or view our downlodable PDF here. Fees may apply. Please contact echo@nwf.org to request a training.

Outdoor Learning Environment Design Guidance

Design Workshop

In this 6.5-hour face-to-face interactive workshop, programs will learn about the Best Practice Indicators of the Preventing Obesity by Design Model and ways they can create an outdoor learning environment that not only engages children but leads to positive cognitive and physical benefits. Participants will collaborate with landscape design experts to design an outdoor learning environment they can implement in their program.

Design Clinic: Intensive

In this 2-hour face-to-face interactive workshop, programs will learn about Best Practices in outdoor learning environments. They will also work with landscape design experts to begin to reimagine outdoor spaces to promote positive physical, social, and cognitive benefits for children.

Best Practice in Outdoor Learning Environments

Educators often spend hours ensuring the indoor classroom is engaging and enriching for young children. However, what about outdoor spaces at child care facilities? Often overlooked, outdoor learning environments can offer various learning and activity settings that have positive outcomes for children. In this 1.5-hour face-to-face interactive workshop, participants will learn about best practices in outdoor learning environments, why “green is good,” and identify one way they can begin to re-imagine their outdoor spaces.

Engaging Children Outdoors

Brrr…It’s Cold Outside. Let’s Go Out and Play!

So often cold temperatures and snow deter us from taking our children outdoors in Winter. Join us for this 1.5-hour face-toface training to learn hands on and fun ways to engage children outdoors in Winter. We will discuss barriers, guided activities, and ways your outdoor space can support play year round. Let’s bundle up with hats, mittens and scarves, and play.

My First Garden: Growing Plants with Young Children

Not everyone needs to have a green thumb to learn how to grow plants with young children. In this 1.5-hour face-to-face training, participants will gain the confidence and skills they need to support container gardening in an early childhood setting. Participants will learn best practices in plant care and how to shop for plants at a local garden supply store. Participants will also be able to learn firsthand how to successfully plant a seedling and support its growth. Finally, participants will discuss appropriate ways to engage young children in gardening. Break out your tools, and let’s get messy! Participants will receive gardening resources and materials, and they will leave with their own container garden.

Encouraging Messy Play in the Early Childhood Classroom

Eww, yuck, wow that texture is unique! Sensory experiences are critical for child development, but sometimes educators avoid providing them because they are messy. In this 1.5 hour face-to-face training, participants will learn about the value of messy play, different types of messy play, and how to safely encourage messy play in the classroom and outdoor environments. Participants will also leave with recipes for safe messy play and get to experience hands on textures and opportunities for children. Water, Wind and Weather: Engaging Infants and Toddlers in

Water, Wind, and Weather: Engaging Infants and Toddlers in Outdoor Spaces

Our youngest learners are natural scientists. They crave opportunities for exploration, and discovery. However, did you know that many outdoor activities for infants and toddlers also promote critical physical development? In this 1.5-hour face-to-face training, join us as we explore positive and engaging ways to support infant and toddler growth and development through outdoor settings. We will explore how to create a safe and welcoming outdoor space for young children and engage in hands-on activities you can take back to your program.

Grass, Dirt, and Concrete: Engaging Preschoolers in Outdoor Settings

The outdoor learning environment is an integral part of any early childhood program. It provides opportunities for children to develop gross motor skills, engage in social interactions, and take appropriate risks. Playing in a more naturalized outdoor learning environment is more engaging for children, and small changes can positively impact children, staff, and families. In this 1.5-hour face-to-face training learn how adding loose parts to the outdoor learning environment can create new opportunities for cognitive growth and development, creativity, and language. By reimagining the outdoor learning environment as a dynamic and variable space, educators will gain new insights into ways to ensure no two days outdoors are ever the same.

Jump, Run, and Dig: Embracing Physical Activity in Nature

Outdoor time that promotes and supports physical activity is critical for child development. However, how can you embrace active play beyond a traditional play structure? In this 1.5-hour webinar, learn ways nature can create and promote opportunities for active play. Participants will plan for different types of movement including climbing, kicking, throwing, and lifting, and strategize how unique play elements including stumps, water, and ribbon can promote whole body development. Participants will also learn from examples of intentionally designed outdoor spaces that support the physical development of children.

Outside the Fence: Let’s Go on a Nature Walk!

Children love playing and learning outdoors. There are countless health benefits for young children during time spent outdoors. In this 1.5-hour training, participants will learn how to think beyond the fenced outdoor space to find pockets of nature in the spaces children spend time daily. Participants will learn skills and ideas for taking children on an exploratory walk of their community to find plants, animals, and natural elements in all environments. Participants will also review safety guidelines and best practice in exploring beyond the licensed space. Through exploration of their local environments, children will begin to see and experience their communities in new ways.

Curriculum and Program Support

Taking Cues from Your Children: Emergent Curriculum in Action

Teaching is an art. It takes the ability to grow and learn with the children in the classroom. Utilizing emergent curriculum, a teacher is able to build upon a child’s interest and create an environment that embraces the journey for knowledge. In this 1.5-hour face-toface training, participants will learn how emergent curriculum can be embraced in the classroom to not only help children achieve their academic goals, but also create an atmosphere of learning, collaboration and exploration. Participants will be able to plan for their own program and to understand simple first steps to implement emergent curriculum.

Fundraising and Community Mapping

Very rarely do we have all the tools and materials we need for the children in our classrooms. In this one-hour interactive webinar or face-to-face training, we will dive into the world of fundraising and provide easy ways to start approaching those in your community to gain monetary or material donations for your program. Participants will receive sample materials to start making the ask and learn how to no longer fear hearing “no.”

Community Engagement: Sharing your Journey

Engaging your families and the community creates the networks and supports you need to support the children in your care. As you reimagine and rethink your outdoor spaces, fi nd your champions to help you bring your vision to life. In this 1.5-hour webinar, learn how to share about your journey with your families, identify local community supports, and learn how to lead a volunteer event for families and the community. Participants will also learn easy to build projects that can lead to big changes in outdoor spaces for children.

Affordable Play Settings in Outdoor Learning Environments

Creating a high-quality outdoor learning environment doesn’t have to break the bank. Learn ways to activate and improve your outdoor space through low-cost, high-impact changes. Participants will gain inspiration and ideas that they can implement in their own spaces by creatively using affordable materials to support children’s play.

Family Engagement in the Early Childhood Classroom and Outdoor Environment: Creating Authentic Equal Partnerships

Partnering with families is a critical component of success in early childhood education. But how do you truly create equal and effective partnerships that support child development and school success? What does it look like to engage families both the indoor classroom and the outdoor learning environment? In this 1.5 hour training, we will talk about the importance of family engagement in the early childhood field, and learn strategies on how to create equal partnerships between families and providers. Participants will also have time to explore ways that they can incorporate family engagement in outdoor play and learning

For Coaches, Directors, Child Care Health Consultants and Program Support Staff

Creating Dynamic Outdoor Spaces for Young Children: Supporting Implementation

As early childhood professionals, we recognize the importance of the outdoors for the cognitive, physical, and social emotional development of young children. However, in many child care programs the outdoor play space for young children is often overlooked and underutilized. In this 3-hour face-to-face training, you will learn how to assess and analyze an outdoor space, be able to identify best practices in outdoor learning environments and begin to reimagine the outdoors into a dynamic, flexible and natural environment that engages children. The tools and experiences from this training will allow you to support child care programs in various settings and help ensure young children have access to high quality outdoor learning environments.

Embracing Outdoor Learning: A Director’s Guide to Supporting Staff

It takes a village. Creating dynamic and engaging outdoor spaces is a community effort. In this 1.5-hour training, participants will learn how to create an environment that values staff ideas and voices to involve them in the design, build, and activation of outdoor spaces. Participants will learn how child care programs can imbed policies and procedures to support the development of their outdoor spaces. Participants will also learn how to plan for outdoor time with children, how staff can support site maintenance, and how directors and owners can empower staff to become experts in outdoor play.

For Family Child Care Providers and Families

Nature Play at Home

Are you interested in learning natural and affordable ways you can engage children in outdoor spaces in your home? Join us in this 1.5-hour face-to-face training to learn how to implement a naturalized outdoor learning environment in your own backyard. Participants will gain hands on knowledge of different play settings they can add to their outdoor spaces and easy ways to create a dynamic and engaging outdoor space. Each participant will leave with materials to start implementing right away.

Outdoor Learning Environment Design Guidance

Design Workshop

In this 6.5-hour face-to-face interactive workshop, programs will learn about the Best Practice Indicators of the Preventing Obesity by Design Model and ways they can create an outdoor learning environment that not only engages children but leads to positive cognitive and physical benefits. Participants will collaborate with landscape design experts to design an outdoor learning environment they can implement in their program.

Design Clinic: Intensive

In this 2-hour face-to-face interactive workshop, programs will learn about Best Practices in outdoor learning environments. They will also work with landscape design experts to begin to reimagine outdoor spaces to promote positive physical, social, and cognitive benefits for children.

Best Practice in Outdoor Learning Environments

Educators often spend hours ensuring the indoor classroom is engaging and enriching for young children. However, what about outdoor spaces at child care facilities? Often overlooked, outdoor learning environments can offer various learning and activity settings that have positive outcomes for children. In this 1.5-hour face-to-face interactive workshop, participants will learn about best practices in outdoor learning environments, why “green is good,” and identify one way they can begin to re-imagine their outdoor spaces.

Engaging Children Outdoors

Brrr…It’s Cold Outside. Let’s Go Out and Play!

So often cold temperatures and snow deter us from taking our children outdoors in Winter. Join us for this 1.5-hour face-toface training to learn hands on and fun ways to engage children outdoors in Winter. We will discuss barriers, guided activities, and ways your outdoor space can support play year round. Let’s bundle up with hats, mittens and scarves, and play.

My First Garden: Growing Plants with Young Children

Not everyone needs to have a green thumb to learn how to grow plants with young children. In this 1.5-hour face-to-face training, participants will gain the confidence and skills they need to support container gardening in an early childhood setting. Participants will learn best practices in plant care and how to shop for plants at a local garden supply store. Participants will also be able to learn firsthand how to successfully plant a seedling and support its growth. Finally, participants will discuss appropriate ways to engage young children in gardening. Break out your tools, and let’s get messy! Participants will receive gardening resources and materials, and they will leave with their own container garden.

Encouraging Messy Play in the Early Childhood Classroom

Eww, yuck, wow that texture is unique! Sensory experiences are critical for child development, but sometimes educators avoid providing them because they are messy. In this 1.5 hour face-to-face training, participants will learn about the value of messy play, different types of messy play, and how to safely encourage messy play in the classroom and outdoor environments. Participants will also leave with recipes for safe messy play and get to experience hands on textures and opportunities for children. Water, Wind and Weather: Engaging Infants and Toddlers in

Water, Wind, and Weather: Engaging Infants and Toddlers in Outdoor Spaces

Our youngest learners are natural scientists. They crave opportunities for exploration, and discovery. However, did you know that many outdoor activities for infants and toddlers also promote critical physical development? In this 1.5-hour face-to-face training, join us as we explore positive and engaging ways to support infant and toddler growth and development through outdoor settings. We will explore how to create a safe and welcoming outdoor space for young children and engage in hands-on activities you can take back to your program.

Grass, Dirt, and Concrete: Engaging Preschoolers in Outdoor Settings

The outdoor learning environment is an integral part of any early childhood program. It provides opportunities for children to develop gross motor skills, engage in social interactions, and take appropriate risks. Playing in a more naturalized outdoor learning environment is more engaging for children, and small changes can positively impact children, staff, and families. In this 1.5-hour face-to-face training learn how adding loose parts to the outdoor learning environment can create new opportunities for cognitive growth and development, creativity, and language. By reimagining the outdoor learning environment as a dynamic and variable space, educators will gain new insights into ways to ensure no two days outdoors are ever the same.

Jump, Run, and Dig: Embracing Physical Activity in Nature

Outdoor time that promotes and supports physical activity is critical for child development. However, how can you embrace active play beyond a traditional play structure? In this 1.5-hour webinar, learn ways nature can create and promote opportunities for active play. Participants will plan for different types of movement including climbing, kicking, throwing, and lifting, and strategize how unique play elements including stumps, water, and ribbon can promote whole body development. Participants will also learn from examples of intentionally designed outdoor spaces that support the physical development of children.

Outside the Fence: Let’s Go on a Nature Walk!

Children love playing and learning outdoors. There are countless health benefits for young children during time spent outdoors. In this 1.5-hour training, participants will learn how to think beyond the fenced outdoor space to find pockets of nature in the spaces children spend time daily. Participants will learn skills and ideas for taking children on an exploratory walk of their community to find plants, animals, and natural elements in all environments. Participants will also review safety guidelines and best practice in exploring beyond the licensed space. Through exploration of their local environments, children will begin to see and experience their communities in new ways.

Curriculum and Program Support

Taking Cues from Your Children: Emergent Curriculum in Action

Teaching is an art. It takes the ability to grow and learn with the children in the classroom. Utilizing emergent curriculum, a teacher is able to build upon a child’s interest and create an environment that embraces the journey for knowledge. In this 1.5-hour face-toface training, participants will learn how emergent curriculum can be embraced in the classroom to not only help children achieve their academic goals, but also create an atmosphere of learning, collaboration and exploration. Participants will be able to plan for their own program and to understand simple first steps to implement emergent curriculum.

Fundraising and Community Mapping

Very rarely do we have all the tools and materials we need for the children in our classrooms. In this one-hour interactive webinar or face-to-face training, we will dive into the world of fundraising and provide easy ways to start approaching those in your community to gain monetary or material donations for your program. Participants will receive sample materials to start making the ask and learn how to no longer fear hearing “no.”

Community Engagement: Sharing your Journey

Engaging your families and the community creates the networks and supports you need to support the children in your care. As you reimagine and rethink your outdoor spaces, fi nd your champions to help you bring your vision to life. In this 1.5-hour webinar, learn how to share about your journey with your families, identify local community supports, and learn how to lead a volunteer event for families and the community. Participants will also learn easy to build projects that can lead to big changes in outdoor spaces for children.

Affordable Play Settings in Outdoor Learning Environments

Creating a high-quality outdoor learning environment doesn’t have to break the bank. Learn ways to activate and improve your outdoor space through low-cost, high-impact changes. Participants will gain inspiration and ideas that they can implement in their own spaces by creatively using affordable materials to support children’s play.

Family Engagement in the Early Childhood Classroom and Outdoor Environment: Creating Authentic Equal Partnerships

Partnering with families is a critical component of success in early childhood education. But how do you truly create equal and effective partnerships that support child development and school success? What does it look like to engage families both the indoor classroom and the outdoor learning environment? In this 1.5 hour training, we will talk about the importance of family engagement in the early childhood field, and learn strategies on how to create equal partnerships between families and providers. Participants will also have time to explore ways that they can incorporate family engagement in outdoor play and learning

For Coaches, Directors, Child Care Health Consultants and Program Support Staff

Creating Dynamic Outdoor Spaces for Young Children: Supporting Implementation

As early childhood professionals, we recognize the importance of the outdoors for the cognitive, physical, and social emotional development of young children. However, in many child care programs the outdoor play space for young children is often overlooked and underutilized. In this 3-hour face-to-face training, you will learn how to assess and analyze an outdoor space, be able to identify best practices in outdoor learning environments and begin to reimagine the outdoors into a dynamic, flexible and natural environment that engages children. The tools and experiences from this training will allow you to support child care programs in various settings and help ensure young children have access to high quality outdoor learning environments.

Embracing Outdoor Learning: A Director’s Guide to Supporting Staff

It takes a village. Creating dynamic and engaging outdoor spaces is a community effort. In this 1.5-hour training, participants will learn how to create an environment that values staff ideas and voices to involve them in the design, build, and activation of outdoor spaces. Participants will learn how child care programs can imbed policies and procedures to support the development of their outdoor spaces. Participants will also learn how to plan for outdoor time with children, how staff can support site maintenance, and how directors and owners can empower staff to become experts in outdoor play.

For Family Child Care Providers and Families

Nature Play at Home

Are you interested in learning natural and affordable ways you can engage children in outdoor spaces in your home? Join us in this 1.5-hour face-to-face training to learn how to implement a naturalized outdoor learning environment in your own backyard. Participants will gain hands on knowledge of different play settings they can add to their outdoor spaces and easy ways to create a dynamic and engaging outdoor space. Each participant will leave with materials to start implementing right away.

Explore More

Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. The National Wildlife Federation is on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

Learn More