Children are tiny explorers who are always in search of new stimuli to gain a new understanding of the environment that surrounds them.
According to Dr. Maria Montessori, the child has an absorbent mind for the initial six years of their lives.
During these initial six years, children are highly susceptible and receptive to the stimuli present in the environment.
Hence, it is the parent’s and educators’ responsibility to provide children with appropriate educational as well as sensorial stimuli that promote holistic development in children.
Traditional educational institutions and curricula limit the child’s development process to desks, chairs, and textbooks.
The Montessori Method of education is a century-old pedagogical tool that allows children to step outside their comfort zone and come closer to nature in order to develop their inner confidence and foster independence.
The Montessori Outdoor play is a unique aspect of the Montessori Philosophy that brings your child one step closer to their surrounding environment and develops a newfound respect for nature.
If you are a parent, educator, or immediate caregiver who wants to establish and introduce activities involving Montessori Outdoor Play, collecting appropriate information is a requisite.
Here is everything one should know about Montessori Outdoor Play to effectively facilitate activities for their children.
What is Montessori’s Take on Outdoor Play?
Children during their first Plane of Development are highly curious and are always in search of new and exciting stimuli present in their surroundings.
In order to help the child develop an intimate understanding and respect for the natural world around them, parents and educators provide the child with unique opportunities to come close to nature.
The Montessori Method of education allows children to explore their surroundings and provides children with age-appropriate activities that enhance their educational experiences.
Montessori Outdoor Play Environment essentially integrates faux or manufactured elements of nature that simulate unique nature-based educational experiences for the child.
What is the Purpose of Montessori Outdoor Play?
A well-designed Montessori Outdoor Environment integrates elements that are manufactured for providing the child with a sensorial experience, systematic learning opportunities, and a perfect balance between natural as well as educational concepts.
What does the Montessori Outdoor Environment Include?
Montessori Outdoor Play integrates several faux and manufactured aspects of nature that provide children with an immersive natural experience that they would not experience in a Traditional Educational setting.
Here is a list of simulated environmental elements parents can incorporate to provide the child with an enhanced learning experience:
- Faux Hills
- Natural Garden Bridges
- Simulated Creek
- Nature Balance Beam
- Nature Shads
- Mini Cabins
Elements to enhance the child’s play experience:
While providing the child with natural elements helps bring the child closer to nature and helps children develop respect towards their surroundings.
It is also important for parents to provide their children with unique opportunities to establish qualities of independence, confidence, and self-reliance.
Providing the child with different play zones can help the child distinguish between different functions of elements in a natural setting.
These zones should be in close proximity or directly adjacent to each other to help the child efficiently explore their surroundings.
Each zone in the Montessori Outdoor Play Environment should have its unique purpose and benefit in the child’s development process.
Here is a list of exciting workstations or nature zones parents can provide their children to simulate natural settings and enhance their imaginative play experience:
- The Resting Corner
- The Sandpit
- The water play corner
- The social zone
- Cozy nook
- Nature zone for infants or toddlers
- Open zone for independent play
- A garden for Montessori Gardening Activities
What are the benefits of Montessori Outdoor Play?
The Montessori Outdoor Play environment helps children come closer to the elements of nature that commonly they are unable to interact with within traditional educational settings.
Montessori Out Play is an exciting opportunity to strengthen the child’s creativity, and imagination, as well as help the child with physical and motor development.
Here is a list of benefits your child will enjoy when you provide them with activities that involve Montessori Outdoor Play:
1. Physical Development:
By carrying objects like gardening tools, performing outdoor tasks, and interacting with natural elements children have a great chance of developing their gross motor skills.
While performing intricate tasks like weed or leaf-cutting and grasping tools with a pincer grip can help with the development of fine motor skills.
2. Cognitive Development:
Cognitive development is related to intellectual and academic growth, calculating potential outcomes, as well as analyzing information.
Activities related to gardening can facilitate cognitive development in children. With the help of open-ended questions, children can have an intimate insight into what is being taught, and what is to be taught,
Children are also provided the opportunity to comprehend as well as analyze the activities they are performing.
By asking questions related to the activities children can identify how much a child has progressed.
3. Literary Development:
Literary skills can be developed through Montessori Outdoor Play Activities. Learning the names of different environmental elements such as plants, trees, types of flowers, fruits, and gardening equipment helps expand the child’s vocabulary.
By interacting with different zones of the Montessori Outdoor play Environment and participating in Montessori Outdoor Activities children are able to gain insight into the functioning of nature.
4. Cultivating Discipline and Responsibility:
Providing the child their own space where they can indulge in purposeful outdoor activities values of respect and discipline in children are often developed in children.
Growing their own plants in a garden, and interacting with sand or water can help them achieve a sense of purpose and gain a sense of responsibility.
5. Mental and Emotional Benefits:
Montessori Outdoor Play activities or environments allow children to venture out of their comfort zone and interact with natural elements.
By interacting with natural elements or independently playing in a natural setting, the body releases a chemical called serotonin that relieves anxiety and makes an individual tranquil.
Hence Montessori Outdoor Play activities promote mental health as well as emotional health in children.
Research has indicated that interacting with green elements or natural elements helps children enhance their problem-solving skills.
Children while independently interacting with natural elements are able to perform activities that involve prolonged periods of focus and actively analyze potential possibilities.
Assessing natural elements and independently participating in activities that involve prolonged focus help children establish the same qualities in the classroom environment.
Unstructured independent play allows children to comprehend unique natural elements on their own terms.
This independent experimentation and analysis of the outdoor environment allow children to comprehend complex curricula faster.
7. Understanding Science:
With the help of Montessori Outdoor Play, children can learn about basic scientific concepts like botany and chemistry.
With the help of Montessori Outdoor Play Children can learn about the following topics:
- Learn how sunlight and water affect the plant’s growth.
- Learn how sunlight, wind, and plants, affect the living beings
- Learn how weather can affect the growth of plants.
- Learn how each aspect of nature affects life on earth as we see
- Learn about different soils that may contribute to the growth of plants.
A list of activities involving Montessori Outdoor play:
Here are some exciting Montessori activities you can introduce to your child to enhance their outdoor play experience:
1) Montessori Gardening Activities:
Allow your child to indulge in fulfilling Montessori Gardening Activities that help develop their confidence and independence.
Montessori Gardening activities are a unique aspect of the Montessori Method that encourage children to grow their own plants, fruits, and vegetables.
These activities encourage children to have an innate respect for their surrounding environment and provide children with a sense of fulfillment.
2) Movement development:
Allow your child to independently run, jump, kick, leap, turn, twirl, throw, climb trees, pick up natural items, and walk around in the Montessori outdoor play environment.
These activities help children develop physical strength, promote concentration, and enhance their balance.
3) Seasonal Exploration:
There is no better way to understand complex or abstract topics than by exploring them tangibly.
Whether it’s fall, winter, spring, or summer each season comes along with its own unique natural elements.
Allow your child to explore seasonal natural items such as acorns or maple leaves during fall, and search for blooming flower buds during spring.
By exploring new seasonal items children are able to have an intimate knowledge of different seasons of the year.
4) Mini Explorers:
Allow your child to explore and search for items of similar sizes, shapes, or textures.
This activity enhances the child’s visual and tactile senses.
5) Stacking up Objects:
Stacking up natural objects like sticks or stones helps children enhance and develop their fine motor skills.
How do you present Outdoor Play activities to the child?
The main aim of Montessori Outdoor Play activities is to help the child develop an intimate understanding of the natural world that surrounds them.
While this environment is unstructured and often unregulated, it is the parents’ responsibility to prepare unique zones that provide the child with appropriate stimuli and promote safety.
It is also important to recognize the requirements of different planes of development. While children during their second plane of development can easily maneuver objects in a Montessori Outdoor Prepared Environment, infants or toddlers may need more assistance while interacting with the elements.