Maria Montessori said it best, “Let the children be free…let them run outside when it is raining…let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water.” The founder of the Montessori method understood the benefits of being outside and enjoying everything this planet has to offer. Children seek out kinesthetic experiences that utilize all their senses, and so every time they are outside, it’s enriching, educational, and gives them everlasting memories.
If you have been utilizing Montessori principles within your home, you should also be thinking about how to use Montessori beyond those four walls. Getting outside is another essential piece of a complete Montessori education.
Why Are Outdoor Activities Important to a Montessori Education?
Have you ever put on your shoes and took a walk for mental clarity? Nature is cleansing. Even a quick jaunt around the block can have a significant impact on your mental wellness and provide a jolt of creativity. Children get the same benefits and much more from playing outside.
Physical Benefits of Outdoor Play
One of the most overlooked benefits of running around outside and exploring the natural world is physical development. Outside, children can walk, run, crawl, dig, jump, climb, roll, dance, swim, and stretch however they wish.
Often, we discourage horseplay inside, where space is limited and things can break easily. But without space to practice these gross motor movements, children rarely get the chance to develop depth perception, balance, stability, and coordination. Plus, outdoor activities promote a healthier body weight, better cardiovascular health, and proprioception.
Cognitive Benefits of Nature
As mentioned earlier, going outside is a way to feed the mind and relax the body. For children, the cognitive benefits are many. Aside from relaxing, they can engage with their senses even further. Homes and classrooms can teach them academic concepts and practical life skills, but those spaces can’t teach how it feels to run your hands down the bark of an ancient tree, the feel of rushing water between the toes, the sound of bird’s wings, or the scent of freshly tilled earth.
If you want children to not only understand but also appreciate the world they live in, you need to take them outside. Fresh air and a touch of endorphins are wonderful teachers!
Emotional and Social Benefits of Outdoor Play
Spending time outside is just as beneficial for social and emotional health as it is for physical development. While engaging and playing games outside, children can communicate, role play, collaborate, and negotiate. Developing these soft skills early will be a boon to children as they grow up.
Plus, there are many opportunities for children to overcome their fears outside. They learn to try new things and to be confident in their decisions. For example, if they are trying to do a cartwheel with their friends, they are going to fall. Getting up to try again is such an underrated skill, but for little ones, it’s a significant milestone in their overall development.
10 Tips For Montessori Outdoor Activities
Now that you know the reasons why going outside is important to a child’s development, it’s time to inspire you. Consider the outdoor activities below. Most of them can be done in your own backyard, while at the local park, or anywhere there is nature to be found.
1. Make Patterns
Nature provides us dozens of chances to unleash our creativity. Have your child pick up a bunch of objects, such as pebbles, sticks, flowers, and pine cones. Create a pattern and have your child try to replicate it. You can mix up this game by making patterns, removing them, and trying to rebuild from memory. Go back and forth, and talk about the materials as you play.
2. Scavenger Hunts for Shapes
Are you teaching your child basic concepts like geometric shapes? Have them go on a scavenger hunt for different triangles, squares, cubes, cones, cylinders, and more. You can also show your child how to make three-dimensional objects out of items they collect, such as using sticks to form a rectangle or stacking stones to make a pyramid.
3. Take a Listening Walk
One of the benefits of going outside is that you don’t have to plan anything. As mentioned earlier, nature is an incredible teacher. Walk around outside and sit down several times. Ask your child to listen to the world then describe what they hear. You can even work on writing and reading skills by noting these observations in a journal. Optionally, have them draw pictures of the things they hear.
As you go from spot to spot, ask your child if they hear the same sounds as before or if anything is different.
4. Discuss the Weather
As the Norwegians say, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” In other words, you should take your children outside when it’s hot, cold, rainy, humid, dry, snowing, rainy, and windy (as long as it’s safe, of course). Let the children stomp through puddles, dig their fingers into the mud, flop in the snow, and dance in the wind.
5. Practice Gardening
Gardening is an underestimated life skill. As the world moves towards a more sustainable future, knowing how to grow your own vegetables and fruits is going to become more important. Set up a garden in your yard. Teach your child how to till soil, weed, water the plants, and more. As children grow older, their responsibilities can increase in difficulty, such as pruning the plants or figuring out which vegetables are ripe enough to pick.
6. Arts and Crafts With Nature
Pick up all kinds of items: leaves, sand, stones, bark, flowers, shells, pine cones. Make pictures. Try flower pounding or pressing. Create sun catchers. Let construction paper fade in the sunlight. Add food coloring to mud and let children paint the leaves. The opportunities are infinite.
7. Picking Up Litter
Teach children how to be global citizens by coming together to clean up litter from the park, beach, or even around the neighborhood.
8. Make a Natural Orchestra
Gather materials that make noise, such as old pots and pans, chimes, aluminum foil, and so on. Concoct a design that will make a variety of noises when it rains, creating a natural symphony.
9. All Kinds of Movement
Dance, run, skip, swim, leap, swing, run, roll, tumble, and trip…just get moving! You can teach children all kinds of exercises, outdoor games, and movement patterns outside.
10. Enjoy the Seasons
Spring, summer, autumn, and winter are all unique. Get outside every season and talk about the way the world changes. Let children witness these changes with their own eyes. Have them note the differences between the seasons, such as changing leaves, various precipitation, and the changes in temperature.
Looking for a Montessori School in Philadelphia?
There is truly no limit to what you can concoct for outdoor activities. The important part is letting your child’s curiosity guide them. Splashing in puddles, feeling the rain, dancing barefoot in the grass, and running around a playground are all ways to teach a child valuable lessons. Now that you have plenty of ideas, it’s time to discover the great outdoors.
Montessori schools like Fishtown Montessori also factor in outdoor time to their programs. If you want your child to be confident, happy, and well-rounded, a Montessori program may be right for you. Why not schedule a tour with us to see what Fishtown Montessori is all about?