Montessori Outdoor Classroom: Look What We Did With A Clay Pot!

DO YOU LOVE CLAY POTS AS MUCH AS I DO? Take your love of clay pots to the Outdoor Classroom! 

You can begin with scrubbing clay pots which is a very satisfying activity, especially if your clay pots used to have plants in them and now there are residues of dirt and roots.

So, in "Montessori-land" this is a Practical Life activity and it involves so many skills! All the way from large motor (carrying the water and filling the wash tub) to fine motor (scrubbing the tight crevices of the pot with a small scrub brush). There is care of self (putting on the apron) and there is the point of interest (the joy of seeing the sparkling clean pot shining in the sun!) And so much more...

Learn more about the importance of Practical Life activities at this link: Montessori Practical Life information from Montessori

Then, there's the intriguing activity of "grading" clay pots according to size so that the variety of plants or seeds (we like planting bulbs in these pots) will have the correct size pot. Grading is a classic Montessori Sensorial Activity and this provides children with some pre-math skills development. Measuring & comparing are "Pre-Geometry!"

You can learn more about the importance of Sensorial Activities in the Montessori environment at this link:

After the clay pots have been scrubbed, ordered according to size, and then matched up with the correct size flower bulb, then the children can decorate the pots to ready them for planting the bulbs.

Painting clay pots is another very satisfying activity, since the clay takes the paint very well. You can add glue (or egg!) to children's tempera paints to get a more durable and shiny finish. Or, you can give the children acrylic paints that will be vibrant and adhere well to the clay surface. With younger children markers and bingo dot markers work well, too. Keep in mind these materials may not be weatherproof and so the children might have to touch up their painted clay pots in the near future.

I think it's easy to see the benefits of this Art Activity with clay pots. When using a paint brush, the children are not  only exercising the important muscles of the hand that benefit the child's emerging writing abilities, they are refining yet more of the fine motor skills necessary for doing just about any handicraft. Not to mention the creative and aesthetic sensibilities that are being awakened in the child through the art experience.  

Of course the point of clay pots is to plant things in them! Just about anything looks good when planted in a child-painted clay pot. Now here comes the Study of Botany, since the children will be curious about the names of the plants they are planting.  They will need to learn about the care & feeding of their little plantings as well. 
I personally love planting flower bulbs in clay pots since the children have great fun digging deep into the soil in their pots. (children & dirt go together!) Also, the child has to take care to plant the bulb with the root side pointing downwards (even more botanical information for the child to learn in a concrete manner!) 

Exploring clay pots can bring endless hours of learning through play. The 4 yr old girl in this photo discovered a fun way to view the world...through the hole at the bottom of a clay pot!

This post is part of Montessori Monday's link up, where you can read lots more posts about Autumn activities for the Montessori environment. Click here: Living Montessori Now: Montessori Monday!

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you gathered some fun ideas and a new appreciation of the clay pot! Please leave a comment or two in the comment section just below. I'd love to hear from you and enjoy your sharing of ideas, too!

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