One of the central tenants of Montessori philosophy is the connection of children with nature. Maria Montessori placed a great emphasis on nature and nature education.
"Children are inherently connected to nature and fascinated by living things; there is a significant body of research discussing the benefits of children interacting with nature on a regular basis. Due to a variety of factors, including increased academic pressures in schools, over-scheduling of extracurricular activities, increased reliance on technology for entertainment, and fear of children being left alone outdoors, children are spending more time indoors than ever before in our history. Connection to nature and inspiring wonder are an integral part of the Montessori Philosophy and Method. The Montessori Method also stresses that immersion in nature is imperative for proper physical and psychological development. …The research suggests that increasing children’s interactions with nature will influence environmentally responsible lifestyles and support children’s development as young naturalists." Connecting Children to Nature in a Montessori Primary Environment, by M.H. Russell.
I grew up in an area where snow covered the ground for straight three months during the winter, and despite cold temperatures (well, if it was too cold (-30C) I would stay indoors, ) I learnt to appreciate snow and outdoor winter play immensely. During the winter months, the majority of my leisure time, I had spent sliding down the hills, making snowmen, and cross-country skiing with my grand-father. I came to love the snow sincerely, and I have passed on my passion for snow to my children.
It can be challenging in the winter to encourage children to go outside and enjoy nature, when the weather is cold, when there are lots of layers to be put on, and when there is no purposeful activity. During snow, however, my children are always eager to go outside. Snow opens up endless possibilities of children-led play. They enjoy making snow-angels, building a snowman, playing snowball fights, and simply running after each other and throwing themselves in snow.
Children-led play is a wonderful way to allow children to create, choose and follow their outdoor adventures in nature, while discovering and satisfying their curiosity. Below are some fun educational outdoor activities, through which the child will learn to appreciate nature and make observations during this special and magical time of the year.
Encourage your child to examine snowflakes up close. (Read a post here.)
Create a pattern or wtire your name with sticks, rocks, and other objects found in nature. (Read here.)
Make a Snow Volcano! (Read post here.)
Learn to identify animals by footprints on snow. (Read a post on it here.)
Go on a winter-themed nature walk. (You can also try a nature scavenger hunt.)
All of the sudden, we heard, and then saw countless geese up in the sky. We knew there had to be a body of water nearby.
Surely, we found a lake nearby, and we could not believe how many geese had just arrived!
Geese were making so much noise! But interestingly, when they saw us approach, they stopped momentarily.
“It is necessary for his psychical development to place the soul of the child in contact with creation, in order that he may lay up for himself treasure from the directly educating forces of living nature.” Maria Montessori