The Importance of the Montessori Outdoor Environment
“There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature; to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature.” Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori was an advocate for outdoor play. The outside environment can be a prepared one as well as a place to freely explore.
Items such as pine cones or rocks can be used as counters for math. The outdoor environment can include a small garden or raised bed, where the children can plant vegetables or flowers. They can care for the garden throughout the growing season, thus teaching an appreciation for gardening as well as learning the parts of a plant. A sand and water table can be included for Sensory and Practical Life Lessons. Nature walks provide an endless amount of opportunities for scientific observation. Children can be encouraged to keep a nature journal, practicing language skills.
Here are some of the benefits of playing outside:
•Boosts the immune system
•Stimulates the imagination
•Promotes problem solving skills
•Provides vitamin D
What about when the weather isn't perfect? Should they be outside when it is dreary? What about a little rainy?
Absolutely! With the right protective clothing, such as rain boots, rain coat, hats and a change of clothes, why not? Not only are they learning preparedness, they are also learning and exploring as they play. Lower Elementary students made land and water forms in the mud puddles for weeks outside the classroom.
Think back to the puddle-hopping, mud pie-making days of childhood; such fun!