Keynotes, Speaking, and Professional Development

Bio: Dr. Carla Gull is an online instructor for beginning courses at the University of Phoenix. She has been in education for over 20 years and hosts the Facebook group Loose Parts Play and the podcast Loose Parts Nature Play. She leads professional development and academic research in outdoor classrooms, loose parts, tree climbing, and nature play. She facilitates classes with Tinkergarten, leads local nature and environmental education programming, and consults with Nature Explore. She loves finding frogs with her four boys.

Contact Info: 317-750-5645

Feel free to reach out for availability and a quote. These options are available online or in person.

Dr. Carla Gull

7 Loose Parts Myths Busted

Are you confused around loose parts? Explore definitions of loose parts and debunk 7 loose parts myths in this research-based interactive workshop with practical examples and suggestions for expanding your loose parts offerings.

Nurturing Nature: The Educators Role in Nature Play

Interested in including nature in your early childhood environment, but not quite sure how? Already including nature, yet want to make it more meaningful? Nature is an essential part of developing wonder in early childhood. Learn how to cultivate your own sense of wonder as we look at the foundational practices of including nature play in your space.  As educators, we are the gatekeepers for children getting outside and experiencing nature. Learn how to make daily nature play an enjoyable learning experience for all.  

30+ Approaches to Loose Parts

The term “loose parts” has grown in popularity recently as educators and parents have rediscovered this timeless approach to play. Loose parts play can be as simple as finding a stick and using it in play or it can take a more complex approach to open ended landscapes. The term “loose parts” became popular with the Theory of Loose Parts by Simon Nicholson.  He advocated for movable items in outdoor play settings in his work as a landscape architecture. Today, the term is fairly ambiguous with some guiding principles: open ended materials and lots of options. Explore thirty plus approaches to loose parts as we define loose parts as a group. 

Loose Parts Nature Play Kits

Explore using “kits” in a nature play, loose parts rich environment. Create your own kits that can be used as take home kits, grab and go options, student selected resources, etc., often from materials you already have! Have a hands-on opportunity to evaluate connected books and “starts” to build outdoor skills in your setting. Be ready to discuss challenges and applications with fellow educators!

The Educator’s Role in Loose Parts: Collecting, Organizing, Implementing, Evaluating, and More!

You understand the concept of loose parts and are ready to take it to the next level! In this how-to workshop, we will examine the practical side of implementing loose parts in a variety of settings. Participants will brainstorm resources for building our own loose parts collections. We will also consider how to store and rotate loose parts. Additionally, participants will look at the evaluation of loose parts for effectiveness and safety.

Math, Loose Parts, and Nature

Nature is full of patterns, cycles, shapes, and numeric opportunities. Take a walk outside with a mathematical lens to discover possibilities. Observe how children naturally experiment with mathematical concepts as part of outdoor play. Notice counting (as children gathered 1, 2, 3, 4 sticks), matching of elements (leaves that were the same), application of geometric shapes (creating rectangles for a house), sequencing (working through the order of the tasks they planned out), symmetry, and understanding perimeter. Nature provides many non-standard examples to deal with complexities. Explore related tools and books to connect nature, loose parts, and mathematics. 

Nature Play for Preschoolers

Learn about the five types of nature play, benefits of outdoor play, options for teaching in nature, and the supportive role of the educator in nature play. Bring the inside out and the outside in. Gain fresh ideas and practical takeaways around loose parts nature play. 

Outdoor Loose Parts

The outdoors is a great space to explore loose parts! Natural and manufactured materials pair naturally for outdoor play. Define loose parts, the educator’s role in loose parts, and gain great tips to implement loose parts in your space this next week. 

Rethinking Nicholson’s Intent

Have you ever wondered why children are drawn to sticks and cardboard boxes? Using hands-on and reflective approaches, explore how the theory of loose parts can enhance creativity and imagination in your setting. During the workshop, we will explore loose parts, look at benefits and opportunities, find many approaches to loose parts, rethink Nicholson’s intent, search through connected books, create environmental art, and more!

Rolling into Physics: Early Childhood Ramp Investigations

Explore ramps, motion, inclines, and all things that roll in this playful experimentation and workshop. Understand how and why children are drawn toward ramp play and how to support it with inexpensive items you probably already have. 

Simple Machines in Outdoor Classrooms

Outdoor Classrooms are a perfect space to explore STEM concepts, such as simple machines. Investigate ways to use the pulley, inclined plane, wheel and axle, wedge, screw, and lever, examine safety considerations, and set up STEM challenges with simple machines in available outdoor spaces. 

STREAMing with Loose Parts in K-3 Classrooms

Explore the Theory of Loose Parts and how to integrate this theory into what you are already doing in your early childhood and early primary classrooms, both inside and out. Practical examples and ideas will be shared through a STREAM lens as we develop a Loose Parts Mindset. Soon you will see the possibilities in just about everything as students build, construct, experiment, invent, explore, discover, evaluate, modify, study, think, consider, measure, draw, make, calculate, destruct, slide and fold!

Tree Climbing and Risky Play in Early Childhood Settings

Due to fears around injury, liability, and judgment, some childhood activities are being limited, such as tree climbing. Explore the benefits, as well as the risks, of risky play tree climbing in this nostalgic and informative session allowing children the freedom to explore the great outdoors.

Turkey, Salamanders, and Frogs, Oh My! Hands-on and Playful Animal Experiences

Investigate the logistics of why we might connect children to animals, addressing concerns around connecting to animals, safety issues, and legal considerations. Learn the basics of creating and enhancing the habitat for animals, adding tools to study animals, consider policies, seasonal considerations, and developing nature table collections. Explore how to find evidence of animals in the wild, bringing animals to the classroom, taking field trips including animals, and embracing animal play as part of the classroom through tools, technology, and resources.