Montessori activities outdoors and in nature

Let me share with you 10 tips for Montessori activities outdoors and in nature.

There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees which speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving. (From childhood to adolescence)

It is nearly Summer, the weather is splendid at the moment, so it seems so easy to enjoy the outdoors.

There is no doubt that nature is good for children and for us. We also like our comfort and it’s not that simple to take the children out.

Here are 10 ideas to enjoy the outdoors and nature with a Montessori angle, that might be more for SEO purposes than exclusively Montessori.

1. Seasonal rhythm:

As Montessori education encourages us to explore the immediate world, we will “naturally” be more in sync with the seasons. Spotting the tadpoles in Spring will lead to the exploration of the life cycle. Collecting autumn leaves in the Autumn will lead to naming and recognizing trees. Enjoying the snow in the winter will lead to understanding the states of water, and so on …

2. Be ready for the outdoors no matter the weather:

“There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes!”. That popular saying is so true. If you are prepared for the weather, it makes it easier. I read that tip recently, and even, if it is summer now, I want to share it with you. Have a thermos of hot chocolate with you for when you go out during the cold, rainy month. Go to the wood and when you stop for a break, you can share a hot chocolate with the children. I don’t know why I have never thought of that!

Rain clothes are a must-have. And of course, right now, hat, sun cream and sunglasses! We always forget the sunglasses for children but it can be so annoying for them, especially if they have light coloured eyes.

3. Bring nature home:

There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature, to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature… so that the child may better understand and participate in the marvellous things which civilisation creates.2

In the Montessori classroom, we have a nature table. It is something that we always had in our house as well. It does not have to be a table. A windowsill or a corner on a shelf, even a tray will suffice. It is great to have a microscope there or a magnifying glass. A field guide is also useful to identify your nature's treasures. 

4. Encourage physical activities:

If you struggle with an active child indoors then, of course, go out! I used to go out first thing in the morning then we were able to enjoy a quiet afternoon at home.

Playground, climbing trees, obstacle course, bike ride, most children need to move much more than what we think! A child who cannot stand still, who cannot focus on “tray activities”, need to move more. So, give them more of that! If you find it hard to enjoy yourself at the playground, as I did, take a book with you (better than your phone), go with a friend, and share the load with your partner or see if a friend can take all the children out.

5. Grow your own vegetables:

The boy is doing gardening on his balcony. Natural development for children.

You don’t need a garden to grow some vegetables or herbs. You can plant seeds in a pot on your balcony or even on a windowsill.

6. Take Montessori out

What about doing the typical Montessori activities out? Take the sensorial materials in the garden, display the moveable alphabet on a mat outside, match the sandpaper letter to the tree, flower, stones and so on.

7. Explore in a scientific way:

I like to have an explorer kit ready:

Are my to go outdoor tools!

8. Make outdoor art:

It’s easier to be messy outside. And of course, use natural elements to create art

Here a few ideas:

  • Paint on a bed sheet attached to the fence
  • Stamp with painted feet on a large sheet of paper
  • Paint the fences and walls with paintbrush dipped in water
  • Spray paint on paper
  • Use toothbrush to splash paint
  • Use fly swatter or potatoes masher
  • Create mandalas with flowers, pebbles, seeds, …
  • Use chalks to draw on concrete and walls
  • Use chalk pens to draw on windows
  • Use mud to create sculpture
  • Make “miniature gardens” with small pine cones, leaves, stones and flowers in a pie pan

Check my 40 process art ideas here.

9. Live outdoor more:

Eat outside, read outside, have a nap outside and why not having a tent in the garden and a family sleepover!

10. Anything with water:

In the summer: splash about, spray with water, wash the car and the windows, wash the toys. Explore a river or a lake. In the Winter or for a rainy day: splash in the puddles, make walnut or leaves boat to use in a stream, go and dance under your umbrella.

And Just go out!

Yes, that's it! Don't ask  yourself too many questions and just go out! Go for a walk at your child's pace and explore your immediate environment. 

Any other tip to enjoy the outdoors?

Let me know in a comment

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About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.