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Dr. Montessori believed that the outdoor environment is a natural extension of the classroom. In our outdoor environments, children are able to continue to build their knowledge based on the sensorial experiences of nature and through constant contact with the seasons and the natural world. As a result, mental work and physical exercise are held in balance because of these experiences.
It is through these interactions with the outdoor environment that the Montessori Community School is able to support the whole child. Children become more aware of nature and are better able to understand the needs of the world and how they can make a difference.
At the Toddler Level: Children go on walks around the campus, observing nature, finding frogs, plant life and many exciting things.
At the Primary Level: Children enjoy outdoor learning environments created to inspire imagination and the excitement found in nature. Each classroom has garden areas that the children tend to. Primary teachers regularly take small groups of children out to pot plants, weed and dig, water from the rain barrels and fill birdfeeders. On nice days, students are invited to enjoy working outside on picnic tables and take in fresh air on nature walks around the campus.
At the Elementary Level: Elementary students enjoy outdoor learning from each of the six kingdoms around campus. They use gardens behind their classrooms to classify flowers and study the parts of a flower. They also use the gardens to sketch flowers and study their parts, as a meeting place for discussion groups and as a peaceful place to work. The children utilize the rest of campus for leaf classification and we study different types of stems: herbaceous, woody, tendril climbers, etc.
At the Middle School Level: The Adolescent community of the Middle School uses outdoor environments in a variety of ways to enhance their curriculum. Throughout the year, small groups use outdoor environments with science materials – for example, to measure dissolved oxygen in our wetlands. In their writing studio, they use the environment to inspire poetry about nature. For Humanities, they have done demonstrations of primitive technologies including building bows and arrows.