“Outdoor Classroom”, One of our most unique areas of Primary III classroom. Maria Montessori was an early advocate of experiential learning and considered the outdoor environment a natural extension of the classroom. Our lead teacher Ms. Rivera has a beautiful vision and passion for this particular section of the classroom where ultimately children are free to flow in and out between the two environments. I too have a strong love for outdoors and nature so we are both eager to have our “Outdoor Classroom” filled with beautiful lessons including a vegetable/ herb garden, a walking path, a labyrinth….the possibilities are endless!!!
Contrary to our excitement of having the outdoor environment, we still are in a learning process of the everyday routine. Currently having 27 children (soon to be 30) with 3 teachers, every energy being brought to our classroom each morning can set a vibe for our day. Some still struggle with transitions and some are still learning to control their emotions…..but all these are the process we need to go through to work in harmony. The most important lesson I learned working with Ms. Rivera is that no matter what, we need to STICK WITH OUR LIMITS!!! This sounds pretty easy….but it requires conscious efforts and countless reminders. Maria Montessori said: “ A child needs freedom within limits.” It really explains it all. We kept the same limits and rules in the outdoor space so that we can keep the rhythmic flow of the two environments.
Having the outdoor space really is magical. It helps us balance the tone of our classroom. No child turns down an invitation to our “Outdoor Classroom”. The outdoor environment is full of rich sensorial experiences that are vital to our human psyche and children are craving the sensorial stimuli. Simply children are happy, alert, and able to work nicely outside. Maria Montessori said: “When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength.” The Outdoor environment can offer endless possibilities for us teachers as well. It motivates us to think outside of our classroom to create new lessons, projects, and tweak ordinary lessons to add extensions. All subjects- science, language arts, music, art, sensorial, manipulatives and practical life can be learned in the outdoor environment. As Maria Montessori strongly valued hands-on learning, we are planning on transforming our “Outdoor Classroom” with our children together. It might take us some time but the outcome will be magical!!
Here are some of the works I created for the environment:
“Recycling”- Collecting and sorting of various recyclable materials.
“Nature scavenger hunt”- Finding items listed on the clipboard. The found objects are later used for math counters and art projects.
“Still life”- Observing a real-life tree and sculpting one with an air dry clay and small branches found outside. Once everyone was done, we made a fall village with all our trees and displayed them inside our class.
Primary III Assistant Teacher