Outdoorsy Montessori: Baby's Outdoor Classroom!

This is what Maria Montessori had to say:
"….the tiny child’s absorbent mind finds all its nutriment in its surroundings.  Here it has to locate itself, and build itself up from what it takes in.  Especially at the beginning of life must we, therefore, make the environment as interesting and attractive as we can.  The child, as we have seen, passes through successive phases of development and in each of these his surroundings have an important – though different – part to play.  In none have they more importance than immediately after birth." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 88)
Here are some ideas I came up with for your Outdoorsy Montessori Baby! 
First, another informative quote from Dr. Montessori:
"There are many who hold, as I do, that the most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six. For that is the time when man's intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed. But not only his intelligence; the full totality of his psychic powers." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 21)
Ever since my little grandchild was an infant, he has loved being taken outdoors and his favorite pastime has been to  reach out to touch the leaves of the trees.

So, I really enjoyed my recent Thanksgiving visit with my youngest grandchild, who has now entered toddlerhood. He cannot stop walking...and outdoors is his favorite place to do it!

My little one still loves the trees around his home, and he now has a favorite tree, the magnolia, with its seed pods which he enjoys gathering from the ground. Two important words in his developing vocabulary are "tree" and "seeds".  I am sure that his early experiences in infancy of touching the trees,  have contributed to these first favorite words of his! 

Montessori wrote about the activity of the very young child:
"It follows that the child can only develop fully by means of experience on his environment. We call such experience “work”." (The Absorbent Mind, p.80)

The Importance of Movement and
Practical Life (work) Activities in 
the Montessori Baby's Outdoor Environment

On one of our many walks in his wonderful yard, my grandchild and I  spent lots of time in the garage. Why? The garage has a collection of his little push toys, but his favorite area in the garage is the broom section!

He pulled me by the hand over to the clean up tools hanging along one wall and pointed to the broom with the red handle and said, "Een-op"...which is toddler-talk for "clean up." I figured this out when I got the broom for him and he started singing his sweet little version of the Clean Up Song.

He has a short handled "Swiffer" that he uses in the kitchen, and so when he got hold of the outdoor broom he began pushing it around the driveway area, like he pushes his Swiffer.  Even though the  handle of the broom was way too long for him, he continued to push the broom along the cobblestones in an effort to clean up. He spent twenty minutes or more pushing the broom!

I realized that he wasn't quite ready for a regular broom, but he might like a push broom that was his size with a smaller broom head and short handle. So, that's what he got for Christmas from his grandma!

My daughter told me he was very happy sweeping away with his little push broom on his morning walk each day...singing the "Clean Up Song!"

Next, I think I will send him a little dustpan and whisk broom.
My little one is 15 months old, and cleaning up is one of his favorite activities. According to Montessori, this is the time in his life when he is in the SENSITIVE PERIOD for ORDER, and tidying up is an important part of keeping order in the environment. So, offering him a child-size push broom satisfies his desire for walking, cleaning up, and being outdoors.

In the Montessori method, care of the environment is one of the basic activities for any age child; and I observed that, even as a toddler, my grand child was really enthralled with "cleaning up"!

My daughter got inspired to set up a little Montessori-style Outdoor Classroom for him just outside her home office/studio. There is a lovely flat area surrounded by trees that is perfect for an outdoor learning area for a toddler. 

We started looking in catalogues and found some things to set up her little one's "Outdoor Classroom."

The first thing on my daughter's list was a toddler size paint easel. We also made sure there was a little clean up bucket next to the easel so that our "little cleaner-upper" would have a sponge and a little water for wiping the easel when he was done!


The very young child develops both the large muscles of the arms as well as the small muscles of the hand when painting at a toddler size easel. And, the outdoors is a wonderful place to paint. (ask any Artist!)

The next thing on the list was a child-size wheelbarrow, since there is a child-friendly vegetable garden near our little one's "Outdoor Classroom."

A small wheelbarrow offers the child lots of practice with walking, pushing,  balancing, and doing constructive work! And, of course the garden is an environment chock full of learning opportunities. This is when the toddler has the first concrete experiences with Botany, Ecology, and the Cycles of the Natural World. 


"Water play" is always a big attraction for the Toddler Aged Child and one of the favorites is watering the garden. Here is Practical Life along with the Sensory Exploration of water, and add a little Eye-hand Coordination, Vocabulary Enhancement, along with Large and Small Muscle Development!


Just take a look at how much fun goes along with the Scientific Learning about volume, exact pouring, carrying and calculating how much, when a child explores pouring and carrying water in a purposeful manner. This is done best in the outdoors, of course!

The toddler aged child is always in motion, and needs to climb and push, pull, balance, pour, carry, and grow... and the outdoors is the place to do it all!



Above photos are from Adobe Stock

I almost left out my all-time favorite Outdoor Classroom Activity!


Children of all ages love caring for the plants and animals that live in the environment, but I think the youngest children enjoy these activities most of all.  Just look at all the benefits of having a bird feeder available for your little one: 
  • Developing an appreciation and understanding of the natural world
  • Observing the activities of the birds who come to visit the feeder (even squirrels sometimes!) 
  • As the child grows older, there is learning to identify the different species of the beginning the child will perhaps notice the colors of the birds and whether they are big or small, but eventually they can be given the names of the different birds (I love this little identification book: Stokes Field Guides to Birds
  • Using the small muscles of the hand to fill the bird feeder
  • Using the large muscles of the legs when climbing a small stepladder to reach the bird feeder
  • Acquiring the vocabulary: bird, wings, flying, feathers, beak, claws, seeds, etc.
  • Developing listening skills when hearing the songs of the various birds 
  • You might even find a nest nearby and then there's a whole new and wonderful adventure into learning!

One of my favorite sites for inspiration about children's Montessori style environments is at this link: Community Playthings. This company makes beautiful indoor and outdoor equipment, and their Blog is a wonderful resource for creating environments and activities that support the development of the whole child. 

Another gem from Dr. Montessori:

"During this early period, education must be understood as a help to the unfolding of the child's inborn psychic powers." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 4)
This article is part of the Montessori Monday Link-up at Living Montessori Now where you'll find lots more resources for your Montessori learning environments, including lots of free downloads. Click on the link to check it out! 

So happy to have you here visiting my Blog and I hope you got some ideas for your little one and the great outdoors, Montessori-style!

If you would like to read more on the topic of the Outdoor Classroom CLICK HERE.

And, if  you'd like to learn more about the Montessori Baby, I invite you to visit my Montessori Baby-Ed Blog Articles HERE.

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