I can't say enough about the importance of the prepared environment. Having taught in both settings, one with a beautiful, well thought-out and cared for environment and others that were not...I can say with enthusiasm and certainty that the classroom that is thoughtfully prepared is the one I prefer to be in; and the children were more settled and happy also.
The outdoor environment needs to be rich with meaning and purposeful activities of exploration of the natural world. The following is just a short list of some of the types of materials to support a purposeful and fertile playground space:
- A child grown garden with wheel borrows and appropriately sized garden tools available to the children.
- A wood working bench
- A sand box
- A water table,
- Climbing equipment providing not only gross motor exercise but also different view points and perspectives
- Space for indoor work to be taken outdoors as well as art work opportunities for the children to take photographs of and draw the natural world around them.
- Art supplies and outdoor easels
The classroom should represent a living and changing environment and the children need to be offered an opportunity for solitude and expression.
The classroom Beauty and Wonder Table, sometimes called a Nature Shelf, provides the children with items from nature to admire and research.
Montessori said that, “Nothing is better calculated than this (to care for living things within the classroom and home) to awaken an attitude of foresight.” She taught that we need to provide children with the natural world so that they may gain an appreciation of it, feel comfortable in it and learn how best to care for it, our delicate planet earth.
Ways to support this philosophy in your classroom or home:
- Caring for plants
- Caring for the items on the Beauty and Wonder Table
- Caring for pets
- Caring of the environment activities such as:
- composting snack & lunch scraps
- using cloth towels and napkins (and laundering them)
- washing tables, chairs, anything really!