“The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.” — Maria Montessori
More and more research is showing the importance of nature in our lives – for adults and children. At Montessori Tides School, nature is a large part of the curriculum, from lessons to gardening to the classroom environment. Our Florida climate also makes it easier to get into nature year-round.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the nature-based work going on our school.
It’s hard to ignore the signs that spring is here. After all, everything seems to be coated in pollen right now, with the accompanying sniffles and sneezes. Nature is telling us that spring is here, and that the Florida summer is not too far off.
Nature is one way we mark time, and nature also is an important component in the Montessori environment and curriculum. The classrooms at Montessori Tides School include plants. A butterfly garden that the children help to plant each spring is on the Primary playground, and the Elementary classes take care of and learn from raised bed gardens.
The Toddler playground even has a garden that’s filled with herbs and seasonal vegetables.
The back decks for each classroom also provide space for plants or gardening. The recent addition of two raised beds behind the Lower Elementary classroom has probably tripled the gardening space.
Tomatoes, carrots, corn, lettuces, chard, beans and peas, strawberries, radishes and herbs are among the plants that have sprouted in our classroom gardens.
Aside from providing a more natural environment for the children, these plants also provide opportunities to learn about nature. The younger children can observe the growing plants and taste them. The older children use nature journals to make observations about what they are seeing and learning about in their nature study lessons.
Nature journals are a great way to extend learning into the home and spend time as a family enjoying the outdoors. Nature journals can be made from purchased notebooks or recycled materials, such as a cereal box. Whether your child is interested in crayons, collage, colored pencils or watercolors, encourage your child to make art based on what they observe. Keep in mind that the art does not have to be true-to-life representations of what they see.
For younger children, a nature journal could be a collection of leaves found on a hike or some interesting rocks. Parents also can help their children identify the found objects and make identification booklets. What kind of tree has that kind of leaf? Which plant has that kind of seed? If you don’t want to haul your child’s collection home, remember that photos of the treasures work, too.
While on spring break or summer vacation, try to take a few moments to observe nature, especially if your family will be traveling. What new plants or animals might you discover there?
Need some inspiration? Check out these ideas from Kelly Johnson’s blog, Wings, Worms and Wonder.