Nature: Growth of Child’s mind, body and spirit

“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:

  1. Get children involved in gardening. It is a great purposeful practical life activity.
  2. Child led walks: Select a safe area that you are comfortable with your child walking and exploring independently, with minimal adult interactions.
  3. Have a conversation about being respectful and kind to the environment, in turn to the Earth.
  4. Carry a magnifying glass to observe things closely.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Carry small pails of paint to do “rock painting”- top it off with a lovely message and line along the walking trail.
  8. 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.

“There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees which speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving”.
– Maria Montessori

Resources: Great collection of detailed, hand-curated trail maps of over 200,000+ trail maps. Good collection of activity ideas and free resources to do outdoors.

Exploring Nature- Activity book for kids by Kim Andrews

HBMH Summer Camp 6: Natural, Environmentlly-Friendly Art

Our primary friends are thoroughly enjoying this week’s new Summer Camp 6 theme “Discovering and Creating Natural Art Projects: Good Earth Art“. Several friends are using their creativity to make natural art by incorporating items such as rocks, leaves, sticks, and other environmental resources. Our hope is that they will learn to recycle and use natural materials for art, while developing an awareness of the environment and a caring attitude towards the earth.

Our camp themes were designed to feature creative hands-on activities that build skills, bodies, and excitement. We offer an environment that fits the needs and interests of all our children, incorporating Montessori principles that foster independence and freedom with responsibility. I’m hoping to update our blog all summer long to show the children as they progress through the different themes.
Good Earth Art_7
Nature collages made with items found in our outdoor environmentGood Earth Art_10Hand-made stained glass mobiles created from twigs, leaves, grass, flowers and other items gathered from outside. Of course, these were gathered after they had fallen to the ground and were no longer a part of the plant/tree. Remember, nature stays in nature!
Good Earth Art_8Good Earth Art_9Natural “ice paint” art! We added a few drops of paint to an ice cube tray, placed popsicle sticks into each ice cube and put in the freezer overnight. The results were pretty cool! (pun intended) 
Good Earth Art_3Good Earth Art_1Good Earth Art_4Leaf tracing was a great way to draw and compare leaves to the ones found outside.
Good Earth Art_5Sand was also incorporated into many of our art projects. The children absolutely love working with sand as it stimulates their senses in several different ways; touching the soft grains and manipulating different shapes, they’re able to challenge their visual senses as they dig for shells in the sensorial discovery box, or even just enjoying the sound of the soft grains sifting through their fingers. Using glue and sand, we created nature scenes, including flowers, trees, sunshine, and so forth. 
Good Earth Art_2Good Earth Art_6Next week we will be exploring “art appreciation” and discovering new, great artists…stay tuned for updates!