Early Care and Education Annual Conference

Howard County Office of Children and Families Early Care and Education Conference


Saturday, September 23, 2017

7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Turf Valley Resort

2700 Turf Valley Road

Ellicott City, MD 21042

Register Online for Early Care and Education Conference!

Printable Conference Brochure


Do you participate in the MD Child Care Credential Program?

You may apply for a training voucher to cover the conference cost at  http://earlychildhood.marylandpublicschools.org/node/511
The Office of Children and Families MUST receive a copy of your conference registration and voucher application prior to July 14, 2017 to use a voucher as conference payment. 

Learning Through Nature and Play

Early childhood professionals and child care providers are invited to attend a day of networking and professional development exploring nature and play-based activities with children. This annual conference features engaging breakout sessions and a variety of vendors focused on high-quality play and nature experiences for all children.



Billy B. Brennan, the natural science song and dance man, brings the wonders of the natural world to life with movement and sounds. In his presentation, Billy will share what children have taught him, and the methods and techniques that best communicate with their young, fast growing minds. This general session will focus on how to combine learning, nature and play in an engaging way to excite children about learning. Bring your energy and enthusiasm and be ready to participate in purposeful play and movement with Billy B.


SESSION A - The Song and Dance of Nature 
Billy B. Brennan 
Building on the themes presented in the general session, Billy will demonstrate how to create successful activities that will combine Nature Education with play. Under Billy’s guidance and using the “Billy B Basics”, workshop participants in small groups will develop prototypes for activities they can bring back to their class. There will be simple, full body participation for everyone. And “non dancers” will be given strategies on how to lead “motion activities” while accommodating their comfort level.

SESSION B - The Nature Of Play 
Lakisha Reid 
Play is often seen as a frivolous time squeezed in between academic work. In this session, Lakisha sets out to explore the nature of play and why it is the most valuable vehicle for learning in the early years. She will define play, the natural schemas in play and the science behind why play is learning. She encourages reflection on your own play experiences and will help to shift your mind and lens to begin to see the value in pure authentic child-lead play. 

SESSION C - Saying YES! To Children in Nature 
Stephanie Bozzo 
Educators and families are often hesitant to take learning outside. Learn how to incorporate learning and nature to create meaningful experiences for children and how to explain its positive impact to the families you serve. Discover strategies and activities that are surefire ways everyone can say “YES!” to taking children outdoors. 

SESSION D - Using Play to Build Social-Emotional Competence in Children 
Linda Murveit 
This engaging interactive session will focus on the social-emotional benefits of play in early childhood. Participants will build their capacity to teach children social emotional competence through play and enhance their professional knowledge of the connection between early voice, play and social emotional competence. Learn strategies to set children up for successful play by enhancing social, motor and language skills through the use of play, video and collaborative dialogue. 

SESSION E - Let Loose! Exploring Loose Parts 
Lakisha Reid 
The theory of loose parts play will be introduced and explored. Learn how language, math, science and social-emotional skills are developed through the use of loose parts in play. Explore the many types of loose parts and how to acquire them, participate in hands on exploration through play of loose parts and open ended materials. See examples of free, found or foraged materials that can be added to your environment to inspire authentic play experiences. 

SESSION F - Supporting Children’s Emotional Competence… Naturally 
Stephanie Bozzo 
One of the primary goals of early childhood education is to help young children find their own voice and socialize successfully with peers. Discover ways that nature-based learning connects children’s natural interests with one another and facilitates authentic moments of self-discovery. By using natural materials, children can learn about their natural environment while also expanding their social-emotional skills.

SESSION G - Growing Up Wild (2 part session AM and PM) 
Robinson Nature Center Educators 
Growing Up Wild is a nature-based program for educators of children ages three to seven. The majority of the workshop is hands-on and interactive using the Growing Up Wild guide. Participants will receive the official Growing Up Wild guide during the sessions and receive access to additional online resources. Participation in both the AM and PM sessions are required as the session build upon each other. Limited to 40 participants, first come first served. 


$75 Mail/Fax

LOCATION: Turf Valley Resort
2700 Turf Valley Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21042

QUESTIONS: Contact the conference coordinator Nikki Pierre at (410) 313-1923 (voice/relay) or npierre@howardcountymd.gov.

REGISTRATION: Register online with a credit card. Registrations may also be mailed/faxed using the registration form (credit card/check/money order). $25 fee for returned checks. Phone registrations will not be accepted.

CHANGE/CANCELLATION: Registration fees are not refundable. Credit for future use may be issued prior to Thursday, September 7, and no changes or cancellations after registration deadline without valid documentation and training coordinator approval. Transferring of registration will NOT be permitted after Thursday, September 7.

WORKSHOP CREDIT/POLICIES: Participants receive 6 hours Core of Knowledge credit and may submit certificate to MSDE Credentialing for 1 Professional Activity Unit (PAU). Participants must be present for the entire workshop to receive core of knowledge credit. To be eligible for a PAU, participants must be present for the entire conference.

Printable Conference Brochure