Nature Explore Workshop on July 27 Will Help Educators Connect Children with Nature​

Children learn in different ways when they are exposed to outdoor learning opportunities.  Photo of young learners in the KinderGarden at the UT Gardens, Crossville.  Image courtesy UTIA. Download image​.

Dimensions Educational Research Foundation in collaboration with the University of Tennessee Plateau Discovery Gardens invite all educators to participate in Nature Explore workshops devoted to reconnecting children with nature. The Plateau Discovery Gardens are part of the statewide UT Gardens system, which also serves as the Tennessee botanical garden.

On Friday, July 27, participants in the day-long Nature Explore workshop will learn interesting techniques for using outdoor classrooms as an integral part of children’s daily learning. Topics to be discussed and experienced first-hand include how well-designed outdoor spaces facilitate healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development. Settings for learning experiences can include schools, early childhood programs and public spaces. Participants will also learn strategies for assessing children’s learning, meeting teaching standards, alleviating challenging behaviors and bringing more joy to learning.

This workshop will utlize the KinderGarden, a unique space in the Plateau Discovery Gardens designed with young learners in mind. The KinderGarden as well as the entire Plateau Discovery Gardens are a project of the Cumberland County Master Gardener Association in collaboration with UT AgResearch and UT Extension. The KinderGarden is one of the few public spaces in Tennessee identified as a Certified Nature Explore Classroom. 

This training would normally cost $80. As a community service the Cumberland County Master Gardener Association is sponsoring 50 percent of the registration fee for all those attending, so those registering to attend will only need to remit $40. Registration is open until July 20, but space is limited. Early registration is encouraged.

The workshop will begin at 9 a.m. CDT, and the morning session will focus on how educators can use outdoor classrooms. The afternoon session will explore indoor and outdoor teaching materials from nature that are inexpensive and can effectively motivate young learners. Participants will also learn why adults need to understand the properties of children’s materials to best support in-depth, hands-on learning. Educators will also experience joyful ways to enhance children’s creativity through exploration of natural materials.

Participants may choose to purchase lunch on site. 

For more information or to register, please visit this website:​.

The UT Gardens includes plant collections located in Knoxville, Jackson and Crossville. Designated as the official botanical garden for the State of Tennessee, the collections are part of the UT Institute of Agriculture. The Gardens’ mission is to foster appreciation, education and stewardship of plants through garden displays, educational programs and research trials. The Gardens are open during all seasons and free to the public.

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence in providing Real. Life. Solutions. through teaching, discovery and service.



Patricia McDaniels, UTIA Marketing and Communications, 615-835-4570,

Tara Schroder, Nature Explore, 402-467-6112,