Nature Education for Young Children: Research

American Academy of Pediatrics report stresses the importance of play.
Thigpen, Betsy. "Outdoor play: combating sedentary lifestyles". Zero to Three 28:1(September 2007): 19-23.

Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. The mission of the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation is to inspire children, families and educators to connect more deeply with the world around them. We do this by providing innovative, research-based programs and resources.

Interaction with Nature During the Middle Years: Its Importance in Children’s Development and Nature’s Future. This article by Randy White is featured on this page. Links to other research articles on the topic of nature education can be found on the page’s sidebar.

Nature Conservancy Study Finds Today’s Kids Are Choosing TV Over Trees is a summary of an article recently published by the organization in the Journal of Environmental Management.

The Nature-Child Reunion is an article by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods.

For further information on nature education, contact Linda Bray, training coordinator at the Early Childhood Training Center.

Return to the nature education index page.


Nature Education for Young Children: Research 2017-10-18T16:34:10+00:00

Nature Education for Young Children: Workshops

A number of organizations will be offering nature education workshops and training opportunities.

Green Hearts presents workshops about landscape design for nature play and can create custom nature related documents upon request.

Green Hour is a resource for parents and caregivers who want to add the exploration of the natural world to their daily lives. Green Hour is a program of the National Wildlife Federation.

M.O.R.E. Nature (Metro Omaha Resources for Exploring Nature) is a collaborative initiative to bring more outdoor, nature-based play to the children of the Greater Omaha area. This group hosts workshops to help parents and children become more comfortable with natural play. A monthly calendar on this group’s Web site lists a variety of of nature experiences and opportunities.

Nature Explore™ regularly offers training sessions on age-appropriate methods for reconnecting young children with nature. A schedule of workshops can be found at

The White Hutchinson Leisure and Learning Group in Kansas City is a multi-disciplinary consulting, design, and family-and-child-oriented organization that focuses on recreational and learning facilities of all types. This organization will provide training and consultation for child care centers, preschools, Head Start and Early Head Start centers to create natural playgrounds and play gardens.

For further information on nature education, contact Linda Bray, training coordinator at the Early Childhood Training Center.

Return to the nature education index page.

Nature Education for Young Children: Workshops 2017-10-18T16:34:11+00:00

Nature Education Resources

Bill Moyers’ Journal. For 15 years, Kaiulani Lee has been touring around the country with the play she wrote and performs called A Sense of Wonder, a one-woman show in which Ms. Lee embodies biologist Rachel Carson circa 1963, just as her book ‘Silent Spring’ begins to get significant public attention. Here you can read the transcript of Moyers’ interview with her or watch the video.

Canadian Biodiversity Institute helps schools transform their grounds into stimulating, biologically-diverse outdoor classrooms and healthy, enjoyable play and social spaces.

Children with ADHD benefit from time outdoors enjoying nature, an article by Jim Barlow, life sciences editor of the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette.

The Children and Nature Network was created to encourage and support the people and organizations working to reconnect children with nature. The Network provides access to the latest news and research in the field and a peer-to-peer network of researchers and individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children’s health and well-being.

Go Green: Education for the Ecosystem. This site on education for the ecosystem includes a roster of green heroes, plus lesson plans, service-learning opportunities, a Go Green Database, and more.

Green Hour offers outdoor tips and ideas for parents and caregivers. is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to restoring and strengthening the bonds between children and nature.

Growing Up Wild stems from the Council for Environmental Education’s award winning wildlife-based education program, Project WILD. In its 20 year history, over one million educators have participated in Project WILD training. Key components addressed in Project WILD include science and inquiry.

The Jane Goodall Institute advances the power of individuals to take informed and compassionate action to improve the environment of all living things. It publishes a newsletter called Roots and Shoots.

KinderNature is a resource for early childhood educators on nature education.

Learning with Nature Idea Book, a resource from Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.

Message in a Backpack: Spending Time Outdoors with Your Child is a parent/teacher handout from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It is available in English and Spanish.

Mindstretchers is a young company, made up of a group of people who are dedicated to working in a multi sensory environment with children. We have worked together to design, produce and source a range of resources that will hopefully motivate and inspire children and adults to learn.

M.O.R.E. Nature is a collaborative initiative to bring more outdoor, nature-based play to the children of the Greater Omaha area.

National Arbor Day Foundation inspires people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. The Arbor Day Foundation partners with Dimensions to offer Nature Explore Classrooms.

Natural Teachers Network honors, supports and provides tools to educators who take their students outside to learn.

Natural Wonders is a guide to early childhood for environmental educators. The link will take you to a downloadable copy.

Nature Grounds: Putting Nature into Play. Access this great Web site to search for the right type of plant to grow in your play area. Search by region/state, plant type, and other variables. The database uses the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zone Map to determine specific categories of plant life capable of growing in a specified area.

The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum has as its mission to "enrich lives through the beauty and wonder of plants."

The Neem Foundation is a people’s movement. It is an initiative that involves caring citizens of the world who would like to make a difference, who would like to lend their voices to turn the tide toward a greener, safer lifestyle.

Orion Magazine is the publication of the Orion Society. It is Orion’s fundamental conviction that humans are morally responsible for the world in which we live, and that the individual comes to sense this responsibility as he or she develops a personal bond with nature.

The Outdoor Classroom Project has as its goal to increase the quantity, quality, and benefit of outdoor experiences for children, birth to five, in Los Angeles.

A Parents’ Guide to Nature and Play is a concise, 20-page booklet written by Ken Finch for Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood to help parents learn about what makes great nature play, why it is important, and how you can restore it to your children’s daily lives.

Planet Earth Playscapes is an organization that creates one-of-a-kind, natural, community built, play and learning environments for children. The playscapes are a combination of free-flowing grassy hills, trees, sculptures, boulders, herbs, sand and water and more. They are safe, developmentally appropriate, and accessible for children of all abilities.

Project Learning Tree. Discover a multidisciplinary environmental education program created by the American Forest Foundation. Explore the website for a variety of resources developed for preK-12 students on topics ranging from forests, wildlife, and water to community planning, waste management, and energy. is a gateway to rainforest education information, including a collection of Web sites for children.

Time Out: Using the Outdoors to Enhance Classroom Performance—A School Readiness Guide for Teachers and Parents is a publication written by Kevin J. Coyle, Vice President of Education and Training for the National Wildlife Federation.

The mission of the World Forum Foundation is to promote an on-going global exchange of ideas on the delivery of quality services for young children in diverse settings. This mission is accomplished through convening gatherings of early childhood professionals around the world and by promoting the continuing exchange of ideas among participants.

For further information on nature education, contact Linda Bray, training coordinator at the Early Childhood Training Center.

Return to the nature education index page.

Nature Education Resources 2017-10-18T16:34:11+00:00

Early Childhood Language and Literacy Resources

BrailleInk is a nonprofit organization that publishes existing popular children’s books in a new format that is easier for braille and print readers to share.

The Center for Early Literacy Learning is a site which provides parents and professionals with information on evidence-based early communication, language and emergent literacy development. Our website content is based on more than five years of research related activity and practice on the characteristics and consequences of early literacy experiences for children birth to five years of age.

The Center on Everyday Child Language Learning recently posted five new products for practitioners on their Web site. These products are designed to assist practitioners in implementing an approach to early childhood intervention that uses everyday activities as sources of learning opportunities to promote the development of the language and communication skills of young children with disabilities and delays. CECLL is a model demonstration center funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs and is a major initiative of the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at the Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute.

Children’s Picture Book Database offers abstracts of over 4000 children’s picture books (preschool to grade 3), suitable for teachers, librarians, and others who design interdisciplinary curricula for elementary schools and library programs.

International Children’s Digital Library is a project of the University of Maryland and home to over 700 digital children’s books in nine languages. Users who join the library can specify which language they prefer and log in from any computer and access their personal settings.

The Literacy Information and Communication System (LINKS) is a national dissemination and professional development system, providing information on literacy research, practice, and resources.

National Center for Family Literacy has as its mission to create a literate nation by leveraging the power of the family. Family literacy helps parents and children form a learning partnership that ends the cycle of poverty and low literacy. NCFL works to find solutions to the literacy crisis that build on the family to create a new cycle of ongoing learning and mutual support.

Nebraska Language Arts Standards, Grades K-12. This link provides the most current version of Nebraska Language Arts Standards for Grades K-12.

Read Aloud Nebraska promotes healthy, successful children and families through reading aloud and fostering school and community efforts that develop lifelong readers

Read for Joy is an early literacy project sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Education.—Sharing the Spirit of Children’s Literature is an online database of thousands of resources about fiction and nonfiction books used in the K-12 environment, with every resource selected to encourage the integration of multimedia author and book materials into reading and library activities.

Virtual Pre-K is a teacher-created resource for parents and teachers that connects the classroom, home and community, in English and Spanish. It offers a variety of resources, including standards-based lesson plans, hands-on activities, and video lessons.


Early Childhood Language and Literacy Resources 2017-10-18T16:33:00+00:00

Participating Colleges

Participating Colleges and Universities Offering HeadsUp! Reading Credit

Four-Year Programs

Chadron State College
Kim Madsen
, 308-432-6372

Doane College
Wilma Daddario, 402-466-4744

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lisa King, 402-472-7787
Julie Lanxton, 402-472-7787

Wayne State College
Carolyn Linster, 402-375-9343

Two-Year Programs

Central Community College, Grand Island
Jeanne Webb, 308-398-7476

Central Community College, Hastings
Barb Beck, 402-461-2465

McCook Community College
Tyler Esch, 800-658-4348, Ext. 8161

Metropolitan Community College
Kathy Halverson-Rigatuso, 402-457-2282

Nebraska Indian Community College
Jackie Hahn, 402-837-5078

Northeast Community College
Donna Niemeyer, 402-844-7351

North Platte Community College
Tyler Esch, 308-345-6303

Southeast Community College
Deb Thomas, 402-437-2457

Western Nebraska Community College
Linda Mattern Ritts, 308-635-6363


Participating Colleges 2017-10-18T16:34:15+00:00

National Early Childhood Program Accreditation

Accreditation provides recognition for those early childhood care and education programs that meet identified criteria for quality. It provides parents and the community with information about what to look for and some assurance that accredited programs can offer their children greater opportunity to grow and develop to their highest capacity. Research on early childhood programs consistently shows that high quality programs have greater benefits for children.

Approved accrediting bodies are those of the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The Council on Accreditation School Age is not currently approved by NDE, but the process for doing so in the future is being considered.

Nebraska Accreditation Project Brochure

Nebraska Criteria for National Accreditation Systems Included in the Nebraska Accreditation Project

National Early Childhood Program Accreditation 2017-10-18T16:34:09+00:00

Office of Early Childhood Staff

Staff members of the Office of Early Childhood are housed in Lincoln, at the Nebraska State Office Building, and in Omaha at the Early Childhood Training Center, in the Educational Service Unit #3 building.

Nebraska Department of Education
Office of Early Childhood

301 Centennial Mall South
P.O. Box 94987
Lincoln, NE 68509-4987
Phone: 402-471- 3184
Fax: 402-471-0117

Nebraska Department of Education
Office of Early Childhood/
Early Childhood Training Center

6949 S. 110th Street
La Vista, NE 68128-5722
Phone: 402-557-6880; 1-800-892-4453
Fax: 402-557-6890

Staff List

Melody Hobson



Ann Adams

Program Associate


Teresa Berube

Early Childhood Special Education Coordinator


Linda Bray

Training Coordinator


Amy Bunnell

Part C Coordinator


Jene Chapman

Program Specialist


Lauri Cimino

Step Up to Quality Director


Lynne Cook

Step Up to Quality, Coach Specialist


Jenny Fleming

Step Up to Quality, Program Quality Specialist


Meleah Gamvroudis

Media Specialist


Tammi Hicken

Program Specialist


Dena Johnson

Program Associate
Child Care Resource and Referral


Morgan Krull

Step Up to Quality, Office Associate


Diane Lewis

Step Up to Quality, Quality Rating Specialist


Catie Limbach

Early Childhood Education Specialist


Kristine Luebbe

Early Childhood Education Specialist


Joan Luebbers

Head Start State Collaboration Director


Linda Meyers

Early Childhood Education Specialist


Katie Miller

Career Development Coordinator


Emily Nash

Training Coordinator


Chris Rowe

Program Associate


Kim Schamp

Office Associate, Administrative Assistant


Kim Texel

Early Childhood Education Specialist


Deb Walls

Office Associate


Office of Early Childhood Staff 2017-10-18T18:02:23+00:00

Ready For Success What Families Want to Know about Starting School in Nebraska.

Ready for Success

The Ready for Success booklet is in response to commonly asked questions from parents about preparing for, and entering kindergarten.

Please complete this form and return to our offices to obtain copies.

You may also print off your own booklets in the languages below.

Ready For Success What Families Want to Know about Starting School in Nebraska. 2017-08-01T19:49:39+00:00

Early Childhood Grant Program Reports (ages 3-5)

Early Childhood Evaluation Progress Reports

July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010
full report

July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009
full report

July 1, 2007-June 30, 2008
Full Report
Executive Summary

July 1, 2006-June 30, 2007
Full Report
Executive Summary

July 1, 2005-June 30, 2006
Full Report
Executive Summary

July 1, 2004-June 30, 2005
Full Report
Executive Summary

July 1, 2003-June 30, 2004
Full Report
Executive Summary

Early Childhood Grant Program Reports (ages 3-5) 2017-08-01T19:49:33+00:00

Resource Links

Results Matter in Nebraska: Resource Links

Colorado Department of EducationColorado Department of Education, Results Matter Video Library These videos have been produced to help providers better understand ways to use observation, documentation, and assessment to inform practice.” 1999-2008 Colorado Department of Education 


DEC logoThe Division for Early Childhood (DEC) is one of seventeen divisions of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) – the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and/or the gifted. DEC is especially for individuals who work with or on behalf of children with special needs, birth through age eight, and their families.


The Early Childhood Outcomes Center seeks to promote the development and implementation of child and family outcome measures for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities. It is a collaborative effort of SRI International, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, and the University of Connecticut Health Center.


FIPP logoThe Family, Infant, and Preschool Program (FIPP) is an early childhood and family support program working with women who are pregnant and children birth through five years of age and their families in western North Carolina. FIPP works in partnership with families using family-centered practices, based on respect for families’ beliefs and values, as well as their cultural and ethnic backgrounds.


NAEYC logoNational Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is dedicated to improving the well-being of all young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8. NAEYC is the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children with nearly 80,000 members, a national network of over 300 local, state, and regional Affiliates, and a growing global alliance of like-minded organizations.


EDN logoThe Nebraska Early Development Network provides services and supports that are designed based on the needs of children birth to age three and their families with the belief that parents know what is best for their families. The goal of the Early Development Network is to provide coordinated services for Nebraska families as conveniently as possible. The program helps families to understand their child’s disability and provides assistance in dealing with situations that interfere with the child’s development.


NECTAC logoNECTAC, the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, is a national technical assistance center and serves as a clearinghouse of Information related to implementing the early childhood provisions of IDEA. This link provides information specific to Child and Family Outcomes. This section contains information about national resources, state activities related to child and family outcomes, measurement tools and meetings and conferences calls related to this work.


Siskin Institute logoThe Siskin Children’s Institute is a non-profit organization based in Chattanooga, Tennessee that helps children with special needs, families and professionals through four centers: education, outreach, health care and research.


TACSEI logoTACSEI, the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children takes the research that shows which practices improve the social-emotional outcomes of young children with, or at risk for delays or disabilities, and creates free products and resources to help decision makers, caregivers, and services providers to provide these best practices in their work.  


CSEFEL logoThe Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) is focused on promoting the social emotional development and school readiness of young children birth to age five. CSEFEL is a national resource center funded by the Office of head Start and Child Care Bureau for disseminating research and evidence-based practices to early childhood programs across the country.


Resource Links 2017-10-27T20:10:19+00:00
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