Children are naturally drawn to outdoor play as it allows them to explore their environment, develop muscle strength and coordination, and increase fine and gross motor skills. Our outdoor recess serves as a bridge between the work cycle and lunch; the first part becomes an extension of the work cycle as the children practice self-dressing. Depending on the season, it might take fifteen to forty-five minutes for the children to get ready! They are encouraged to remove their indoor shoes, put on their jackets, outdoor shoes, and applicable accessories. It is fascinating to see how they have become completely independent and are able to dress without the aid of a teacher.
One outdoor activity the Toddlers enjoy is shoveling snow. The children will remind us of the availability of the shovels at the sight of snow and attempt to mimic the shoveling that they have seen at home (even if it may be less enjoyable for the adults at home). Shoveling allows the children to develop balance, endurance, strength, coordination, motor control, and see the immediate results of their work. Since Toddler recess precedes Casa’s, we get the fresh layer of snow and they can see the result of their work. The purchase of a shovel for your child might help render shoveling less arduous next winter season! -- Ms. Dee
Casa South: Children are spending less and less time outdoors and more time cooped up inside. It is no shock that technology plays a key factor in this recent outdoor disturbance.
Besides helping to unplug, the benefits to being outside are endless: creating memories, social bonds, reduce stress, exercise, vitamin D, exploration and adventure.
We are so lucky to live in Hamilton where we have plenty of trails and over 100 waterfalls. This week, I would love to propose that the families of Casa South get outside this Easter weekend. I would love to have a group chat with the children about their outdoor activities when we return! If each child could bring in a photo of their adventures that we could keep in the classroom that would be great!
If you need some inspiration here is a great website with trails in Hamilton. In addition, here is a nature scavenger hunt to do on your walk! — Ms. Moffatt
Casa North: Dr. Montessori strongly believed that there should be a fluidity and connection between the indoor and outdoor environments that the children interact with. We have talked about imaginative play and the importance of the child under six imagining within their reality. It's also critical that the developing child who still has his/her absorbent mind is free to interact with their outdoor environment.
There are many ways to go about supporting and encouraging this! While we do sometimes have structured and adult-lead games and activities outside, we want the majority of the time spent outdoors to be lead by the children. As in the classroom, we observe their social interactions and intervene where necessary, but we want the children to champion their own games and play. If we notice that an imaginative game is rooted in superheroes/bad guys/TV show characters, we will help the children arrive at a more appropriate level of play. We show the children how to hop on a hopscotch, bounce a ball, plant and care for seedlings, or comfort a peer with a skinned knee just as we would show them how to interact with their indoor environment.
If you're looking for ways to encourage a positive interaction with the outdoors, the best way to do it is to allow the children to be outside independently! Take them to the park, to soccer practice, release them into the wild backyard, and watch from afar. It's amazing what the children can do when they are provided with some play clothes that can get dirty and a little bit of freedom. Of course, you will observe them and keep them safe, but if they are given the opportunity to really interact with their outdoor space (wherever they are in the world) without adults leading their play, it will help shape independent, strong, self-confident, and self-assured human beings.
Thank you for all that you do for our community! We are grateful to have your support. — Ms. Boyle
The Elementary Campus is a magical environment for students in the Second Plane as it offers students the warm, welcoming, family-style environment of a home (with the kitchen and couch being very popular places to work), as well as access to an outdoor classroom space and the community beyond.
As our adult social experience becomes more entwined with technology (driving, texting, tracking, summoning Skip-the-Dishes while wearing pyjamas), children may be unwittingly drawn into an experience of nature deficit. Many children do not engage in enough outdoor time each day, whether at rest, free play, or athletic pastimes. Even the children who do make it outdoors regularly often have to do it according to an external schedule of when soccer practice is on or when an adult is available to join them for a bike ride. While these structured opportunities are valuable, children also thirst for the freedom to follow their natural impulses to be attuned to their own psychological or physical needs for restorative or strenuous time outdoors, and go outside when they feel like it.
Dr. Montessori emphasized in her writings the connection between movement and learning, as well as the physical work of the hand to develop the mind. Within the Elementary environment, it is essential that students be offered structured periods of physical and restorative engagement to develop self-regulation skills, be introduced to novel activities, or guided to connect more deeply with their environment. These type of structured connections to the outdoors may be practical (the walking school bus, trips to the grocery store), playful (the daily recess), or in academic pursuit (botanical sketching).
It is also critical that students in the Second Plane have the opportunity for outdoor experiences with purpose, but according to their internal timing: to take their yoga mats outdoors in the sunshine, to spend time preparing a garden bed for planting, or even salting an icy walkway. As the spring skies become bluer and the breezes blow more warmly, the classroom begins to empty as children take their notebooks and materials outside to work.
Perhaps the most important benefit of having outdoor spaces available for the students is the restorative joy of simply being in nature, alone and together — of laying in the grass, feeling the soft blades of tickling their skin and pulling off socks to squish the mud with their toes, to quiet their mind and focus on their senses, or giggling with friends as they canoe along a waterway, chatting about their adventures and letting their imaginations roam wherever the clouds and birds may lead them.
Each of these connections to the nature are vital to raising happy, healthy, active children who are passionate stewards of the world around them, and in our Montessori environment we want the children to have them all. — Marissa
Next week is the Easter long weekend. There is no school on Good Friday, April 19, or on Easter Monday, April 22.