Nature has always been an integral part of Montessori education.
When our preschool children come outside to work in the Outdoor Programme, they are exposed to our spacious garden with varieties of different plants. Children get the chance to explore and to enjoy the beauty of the outdoor surroundings, such as the colourful leaves and flowers. They also experience some of these plants growing old, changing colours, dying and decomposing.
Feeding eggshells to our plants on a sunny day.
Within the Preschool classrooms, children are introduced to Practical Life activities. Care of the environment is one of them. It is an important component of Montessori education to help children understand their relationship and connection with their space; this includes their indoor and outdoor environment.
Care of environment activities in the Outdoor Programme encourage children to interact and engage with nature and to learn to respect and love their surroundings. Some of the activities available in the Outdoor Programme are watering the plants, grinding and feeding eggshell to the plants, weeding and sweeping the garden.
Sweeping in the garden is one activity children enjoy.
Through these activities, children learn to nurture the environment and that plants need to be taken care of; they need food and water to grow, and that pulling weeds gives the plants more chances to grow. Children also learn to appreciate the aesthetic of a clean garden after leaves are swept off the ground or grass.
While working with these activities, the children get good exercise and a chance to develop control of their movements. For example: watering the plants provides an opportunity for children to take care of the environment and allows them to practice independence and control of their body movements while also improving concentration.
Water the plants is more than just watering the plants!
Care of the environment activities are very popular in the Outdoor Programme.
These are some notes of what children have said during activities:
- “I think the plants are very thirsty, the water keeps on disappearing into the ground!” (3 year old, while watering the plants )
- “I am going to make these eggshells super small so the plants can eat them quickly so they can grow faster!” (4 year old, while eggshell grinding and feeding)
- “Look how much weed I pulled! The plants must be happy now.” (3 year old, while weeding)
- “I am going to sweep all these leaves so the garden will be nice and clean.” (4 year old, sweeping the garden).
—By Sinta (Outdoor Programme guide)