Professional Development


The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon offers professional development for PreK-12 teachers and out-of-school program providers in Central Oregon.  Our workshops provide curriculum and skills to help educators make outdoor learning a regular part of their classrooms and programs, benefiting youth across Central Oregon.

Upcoming Workshops


Forest Classroom Teacher Workshop


Interested in connecting your students with all of the benefits that time outdoors provides? Join us for a fun day in the forest that will help you build your own Forest Classroom program.


Thursday, February 8, 2024

9:00 am – 3:30 pm

Skyliner Lodge, Bend

Audience:  Kindergarten – 2nd grade teachers

Cost:  Free, with substitutes covered by the Children’s Forest

Register here:


What is a Forest Classroom Program?  

Forest Kindergarten (or Forest Classroom) programs began as a way to connect primary students to all of the benefits that time outdoors provides.  Several teachers in Bend-La Pine SD started programs over five years ago with the primary objective to provide children opportunities for free play in nature.  Most of the programs were designed to provide a monthly outing to the forest and some have evolved to blend science education into these days.  Teachers have found the Forest Kindergarten programs to have many benefits including building confidence, improving social skills, learning to be calculated risk takers, learning skills for self-regulation, and building problem solving skills.  Learn more about one Forest Kindergarten program here.


Workshop Objectives:

  • Learn about the importance of unstructured play outdoors for child development
  • Learn from experienced Bend-La Pine SD teachers about how they built a Forest Kindergarten program at their schools
  • Learn about logistics for planning outdoor days, including how to prepare students and families
  • Gain tips for encouraging free play outdoors
  • Learn about community partners that can support outdoor days


Workshop Facilitators:

Andrea Morgan:  1st grade teacher, Miller Elementary

Michelle Watt:  Kindergarten teacher, Highland Elementary

Molly Alles:  NatureHoods Coordinator, Children’s Forest


What are the Benefits of Outdoor, Play-Based Learning?

  • Students feel calmer and less stressed
  • Students develop self-awareness and self-management
  • Students practice relationship skills through cooperative play
  • Students learn health risk-taking behaviors and engage in active play
  • Encourages imaginative play
  • Increases enthusiasm for learning
  • And so much more!