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

Teacher Resource: The Outdoor Prepared Environment

The Outdoor Prepared Environment


Even outdoors, you are still the third point of the triangle! When we take the children outdoors, where it seems so easy for them to function, we tend to forget that the magic of the Montessori prepared environment depends as much on the teacher as it does on the materials and the child. Do children really need the same active support, parameters, and supervision in the outdoor prepared environment as they do inside the classroom? In theory, yes; in practice, we sometimes fall short.

Intellectually, we all know the prepared environment doesn’t stop at the classroom door. So, why is it so easy for us teachers to abdicate responsibility when we walk outside? I’ve heard more teachers talking lately about the disappearance of peaceful play on the yard. Some may think today’s children are shorter on tolerance, or that it’s natural for children to interact less peacefully in a more stressful world. Perhaps. And perhaps there is something else going on. Something that has less to do with the children and more to do with us.

Let’s face facts. Every teacher’s time is precious – our responsibilities can be exhausting. Labor laws aside, in the real world there is sometimes no formal space for teachers to take a mental break or check in with each other. We see the children running, jumping, digging, dancing, and singing in the outdoor environment we have prepared for them. It’s easy to persuade ourselves that it’s all right to use outside time to check in with a colleague or for a little personal rejuvenation – what teacher doesn’t need a breath in the middle of the day! We justify this notion by telling ourselves the children are just playing, after all; it’s no big deal. Is that true?

Let’s remember that for many children, free play in the outdoor environment is very big work! Here are just some of the social skills children are developing – with or without you:

  • Negotiating social scenes of all kinds
  • Interacting successfully with others, while creating
    their own games
  • Implementing their own plans, while incorporating
    the ideas of others
  • Determining the difference between reality and fantasy
  • Role-playing in new situations, some that don’t
    make sense to them
  • Experimenting with leadership & being a follower, team-play, etc.

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HBMH Outdoor Classroom Extension

“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”. – Dr. Maria Montessori

The construction of our first outdoor classroom extension (covered deck) has been quite an adventure! Our entire HBMH school community has contributed to the planning, fundraising, and implementation of this project. It is because of the support, dedication, and generosity of our wonderful HBMH families that our children are now able to enjoy a protective, safe outdoor classroom extension.

photo 13

Phase 1 of construction: laying down the foundation

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