Montessori Inspired Education - Outdoor Classroom Ideas
Get Them Outside!
Now that the weather is improving a bit, what could be better than moving some of the daily learning experience outside?” Maria Montessori was a real advocate for the outdoor classroom. She placed a lot of emphasis on getting children outdoors and connecting with nature.
“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
Children should have a place and allotted amount of time to learn about nature, or to simply enjoy their usual Montessori activities in an outdoor environment. Let’s start by using Montessori’s ‘Four Avenues of Early Childhood Education’ (for more on the four avenues, click here) as a guide. These four avenues are:
1.) Practical life
2.) Sensorial development
3.) Development of language
4.) Early preparation of the mathematical mind
Practical Life Lessons
There are many outdoor practical-life activities (for more about practical life lessons, click here) such as simple gardening like digging in soil and planting seeds. Children can try their hand at raking or sweeping, or practice their pouring skills with water or sand. An idea to help develop balance and coordination might be to walk heel-to-toe on chalk drawn “tightropes.”
Sensorial Development Ideas
There is no question that the great outdoors can be a veritable smorgasbord of stimuli for the five senses. Children can explore different textures such as the rough pavement compared to the smoothness of a leaf. Listen to and identify the outdoor sounds, birds, wind, the buzzing of an insect, etc. Draw shapes with different colors of chalk. Use your color tiles to compare the colors of the grass, sky, flowers, etc. (For more about sensorial development, click here.)
Development of Language Lessons
Let children trace (and say the sounds of) the letters of the alphabet in the sandbox or with chalk on the sidewalk. Have a scavenger hunt to find objects that match the sounds of the letters of the alphabet. Or, simply sit outside while reading out loud to children. (For more about development of language, click here.)
Early Preparation of the Mathematical Mind
One idea might be to vary the Montessori cards and counters lesson (click here for more info) by writing the numbers with chalk and then line up the appropriate number of natural objects (pebbles, leaves, pinecones, etc.) beneath the corresponding number. This way the children get a visual impression of the quantity associated with the symbol. They can also retrace the numbers with a different color chalk.