Webinar: Making Change Happen - From Traditional to Outdoor Play-Based Learning

The Jewish Education Project
February 13, 2020

Many early childhood professionals today are responding to the research underscoring the transformative benefits of free play and nature-based learning on young children. However, even when small steps taken, creating a cohesive plan in the same school (or even in the same classroom) can feel overwhelming. This webinar showcases a group of change-makers themselves as they share how their school's early childhood program evolved from a traditional, academically focused preparatory school, to one that’s now rooted in an outdoor play-based learning approach and how they accomplished it together.

Remote video URL

Staff members from the Columbus Academy walk us through the inspiration for their change and their change process in the development of their early childhood program. You will learn the framing of their new philosophy and see examples of how the learning and teaching shifted; beginning with the development of their outdoor play space and more intentional documentation and assessment. This webinar is for school teachers, school directors, and nature-based specialists working in early childhood.

This webinar addresses how:

  • Goals were shaped by the expectations staff has for children’s play experiences
  • Outdoor exploration is frequently linked to indoor activities
  • Communications are created to increased parent support
  • Documentation efforts include connections to developmental domains

This webinar was offered as part of our In-SITE-ful Journey experiences for early childhood and family engagement professionals and supports our ongoing effort to create meaningful conversations around innovative approaches in Jewish early childhood settings.

Related Resources

  • Extend your professional development by attending Prescott College's Summer Institute for Nature and Place-based Early Childhood Education. The 2020 5-day training takes place in Prescott, Arizona June 8-12. Participants receive professional development hours, certificate, and a mentor as you develop a project in your own setting. 
  • Visit a Nature Explore Certified Outdoor Classroom near you for inspiration and to speak with educators implementing nature-based approaches. 
  • Seesaw helps educators create a powerful learning loop between students, teachers, and families. The Columbus Academy team gives this online teacher tool a thumbs up. Teachers can choose from their free or fee-based options. 
  • Attend an In Bloom one-day conference for early childhood educators living in New England offered by Antioch University and community partners. In Spring/Summer of 2020 choose from these three locations and dates: April 18 in Kittery, Maine; May 16 in Amhurst, Mass; and June 13 in Moretown, VT.


3YO Exlororers Program Staff: Deanna Robeano, Mike Weible, Grace Gordon; and Sarah Penney, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher. (Note: Mike Weible was unable to participate during the recording of the webinar, as was originally intended).

About the School:

Columbus Academy is a premier three-year-old through grade 12 coeducational college preparatory school located in Gahanna, Ohio. The school offers a transformative education that invites children to explore and create in an energizing and welcoming environment. At Columbus Academy, outdoor learning plays a major role in students’ health, well-being, and academic success. Columbus Academy’s 231 wooded acres, Crane Outdoor Learning Center and Early Childhood Nature Playground provide children with a multi-sensory “classroom” where they can soak up the smells, sounds, colors and textures of the forest.



  • Early Childhood