“When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength”- Maria Montessori
According to the Montessori philosophy, nature and the outdoor environment are considered an extension of the indoor classroom. Being in and about nature helps support the growth of the child’s mind, body and spirit.
“There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature; to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty of nature”-Maria Montessori
Nature and the outdoor environment help provide countless opportunities for discovery, creativity, problem solving, exploration and STEM education. Interaction with nature encourages child to ask questions, which in turn helps build the inquisitive mind.
Being out in nature and outdoors can seem like a big task and may not be feasible sometimes. Even if getting ready and driving “out” to someplace fancy is not possible, its important for the child to step out in the patio or backyard to feel the sun, sit on the sidewalk to draw with chalk or build a mandala, go for a walk within the neighborhood etc. A few minutes out in the nature can help calm and rejuvenate the child.
Having nature safe items inside the home to create a “nature table” preferably by the window for the child to observe is a simple way to bring “nature inside” when going out is not an option.
Similarly, there is no such thing as “bad weather” – as long as it’s safe for the child and is not extreme weather conditions, child should be provided some outdoor time everyday.
Here are some suggestions for activities to do while out in nature:
- Get children involved in gardening. It is a great purposeful practical life activity.
- Child led walks: Select a safe area that you are comfortable with your child walking and exploring independently, with minimal adult interactions.
- Have a conversation about being respectful and kind to the environment, in turn to the Earth.
- Carry a magnifying glass to observe things closely.
- Provide opportunities to explore different things we see in nature like leaves, flowers, landforms, living beings etc. and benefit from the hands- on learning they obtain from them.
- Go on a nature scavenger hunt based on leaf shapes/ colors etc.- provide a bag and a chart with marker to check off what they have found.
- Carry small pails of paint to do “rock painting”- top it off with a lovely message and line along the walking trail.
- Pick up fallen leaves, sticks, flowers and use for creating lovely art projects with the child.
The list is endless …. Let’s explore nature the best we can.
www.alltrails.com: Great collection of detailed, hand-curated trail maps of over 200,000+ trail maps.
www.1000hoursoutside.com: Good collection of activity ideas and free resources to do outdoors.
Exploring Nature- Activity book for kids by Kim Andrews