Outdoorsy Montessori: Those First Days of School in The Outdoor Classroom!

PREPARING FOR LOTS OF MONTESSORI LEARNING CAN BE LOTS OF OUTDOOR FUN FOR ALL, ESPECIALLY IN THE FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL! A truly authentic Montessori program will have a wonderful Outdoor Classroom set up that the children love to maintain.

Four-yr-old sweeping the walkway in the
 Montessori Outdoor Classroom: PRACTICAL LIFE!
All photos in this post are by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

The foundation of the Montessori environment is what is called "Practical Life" and these activities are often the most fun for little children. As the children maintain their own place, they are happy and empowered! This is really easy to see in the Montessori Outdoor Classroom. You can click this link to learn more about the importance of Montessori Practical Life Activities. 

As the first days of school are approaching, it is worth the time to plan for the Outdoor Environment as well as the Indoor Environment!  The Outdoor Classroom is often one of the first places where the children perform lots of Practical Life maintenance, since the Outdoor Environment is in full bloom this time of year!

Five yr old watering the Children's Garden 
at the end of the summer: PRACTICAL LIFE!

At the time of year when school begins, the Children's Garden may be abundantly delivering wonderful fruits, veggies, and flowers! 

Here, the sunflowers were growing so tall, that we cut a few for an impressive indoor display. Before putting them into a giant vase, the children began to measure themselves against these amazingly tall flowers! This led to actually measuring the height of the cut flowers and also the actual height of each child with a carpenter's measure from the hardware store. The children love using real tools and this real math experience went on for several days during the first days of school. In fact, we decided to record each child's height (and weight) and included this record with a photo of the child for his/her portfolio. In the months that followed, the children often went back to this first page of their portfolio to compare how much they had grown over the course of the school year.

Children measuring themselves against the height of a freshly cut sunflower at the end of summer: MATH

Harvest time in the Outdoor Classroom: BOTANY!

Since the children were in a "measuring mood" they insisted on measuring all the huge squash that came out of the Children's Garden during the first weeks of school (and the end of summer!)

Montessori Outdoor Classroom "Measuring": MORE MATH & DON'T FORGET ALL THAT BOTANY! 

While cleaning out the dying plants in the end-of-summer garden, there are often the remnants of the children's hand written plant labels from the Spring plantings! 

Here is a sweet little plant label found in the 
Outdoor Classroom Children's Garden: LANGUAGE ARTS!

You can read more about a wonderful Language Arts Outdoor Classroom Activity at my past post by clicking here: 
Making Outdoor Signs in the Montessori Outdoor Classroom.

In the first days of school, the birds are happily foraging before the colder winter months ahead. In the Montessori Outdoor Classroom you can often see a wild bird feeding at the bird feeding station. Observing these birds leads children to much learning about the natural environment. 

The Montessori Outdoor Classroom Bird Feeding Station is the perfect place to learn about the wild birds: ZOOLOGY!

There's another wonderful post about the benefits of setting up a wild bird habitat in the Outdoor Classroom and all the academic learning that happens for the children. Here's the link: Creating A Wild Bird Habitat in The Montessori Outdoor Classroom.

Animal habitats are very important in the Montessori Outdoor Classroom and they give the children first hand experience with insects and other members of the animal kingdom!

Habitats for the wild creatures in the 
Montessori Outdoor Classroom: THE STUDY OF ZOOLOGY!

For those lazy afternoons of the summery first days of school, chalk art is a big favorite. Simple, for even the newest children and such a wonderful arty experience!

Even the "cautious new children" love to make art in the Outdoor Classroom with colorful sidewalk chalks: ART! 

It's a fun outdoor adventure in art when the children are provided with window paints in the Montessori Outdoor Classroom. Here is a painting activity for the first days of school that keeps the painting messiness outside and is just as fun to clean up as to create! After the children are done with their little masterpieces, they greatly enjoy cleaning the windows with a squeegee and water. You can use washable Tempera Paints from Lakeshore Learning Store, or these fun washable Window Crayons available at this link: Blick Art Supplies.

Outdoor Classroom Painting with Window Paints: MORE ART!

There are plenty of fun stories the children love to act out in their free play in the Outdoors. Providing Firefighter costumes for the Outdoor Classroom has always been a big hit and enticing to even the most cautious of new children! The process of putting on the pants (with suspenders) & jacket (hooks and thumb holes) is another wonderful set of  PRACTICAL LIFE exercises, too.
Here's a link for authentic & sturdy children's firefighter costumes: Aeromax Firefighter Suit at Amazon.

Firefighter costumes were just the right incentive for some fun stories to tell in the Outdoor Classroom: DRAMA PLAY!

While teaching in a wonderful little Preschool in a rural village in the Fiji Islands many years ago, I would often dismiss class with "Drum Leaps." I learned this fun musical way to end circle from my first Orff-Schulwerk teacher, Janet Greene. And, I can truthfully say that it is a hit with children all over the world! You can learn more about the Orff-Schulwerk Method of teaching music to children at this link on my website: Magical Movement VIDEOS.

Here's how the activity goes. The children line up a few yards from the teacher who is holding a large frame drum up at a level that is a little above the children's height. Each child runs to the teacher and then leaps up to tap on the drum head. Lots of musically oriented fun with Physical Education skills thrown in for good measure! 

Dismissing class with the "Drum Leaps Game": MUSIC & P.E!

Well, if you've visited my blog before, you know that I am sold on the importance of the Outdoor Classroom for the development of the "whole child." And, you can see here  all the many "classic areas" of the Preschool curriculum that are wonderfully featured in the Montessori-style Outdoor Classroom. 

You'll find many other Outdoor Classroom posts at this link on this blog: OUTDOORS. It's one of the titles on the header that is found on every page of my blog (just click!) and I hope you will find many more ideas that you can enjoy with your own group. I'd love to hear your experiences, so please feel free to drop me a line or two in the comment section below!

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