The Montessori prepared environment is an ever evolving place. Just as the teacher must follow the child’s lead when presenting lessons and activities, so too must the environment change to follow the interests of the child.
The needs of the children are different from the beginning of the year to the end. At the beginning of the year, students come in with eager anticipation of the year ahead. Toward the end of the year, the warmer weather ushers in a playful spirit as minds start to wander towards summer picnics, swimming pools, and vacations. You can address these needs and keep students focused on their work with a few subtle changes to your Montessori environment.
Spring Brings Fresh New Works to the Montessori Environment!
BotanySpring is the perfect time to start planting a garden. Whether you have a large outdoor space or rely on container gardens, children love planting seeds and watching them grow. If the school will be closed for the summer, you may want to think about planting some fast-growing spring vegetables and flowers so the children can harvest and enjoy them before the end of the year. Some suggestions are:
- Leaf lettuce
- Green onions (scallions)
- Morning glories
- Sun flowers (These will not bloom before school is out, but they will yield a lovely surprise when the children return in the fall.)
ZoologyChildren and adults are drawn to the playful antics of baby animals. A springtime trip to a farm is a wonderful going out experience. For shelf work, you can add nomenclature cards for baby and adult animal names (cow/calf; foal/horse). We have created a complimentary printable with some cards for your shelf!
Children are also fascinated by the process of metamorphosis and lifecycles. Nature Pavilion sells some very inexpensive sets of small metamorphosis models of frogs, butterflies, lady bugs, honey bees, and other arthropods. These, coupled with timelines and nomenclature cards make great springtime shelf work. Invite older children to explore the lifecycle of eggs and baby chicks. A word of caution, baby chicks carry salmonella and may not be appropriate in your classroom.
Nature ArtWarm weather and sunshine seem to call us all to go outside. Invite the children to go on a nature walk to gather interesting bits of nature: seeds, flowers, grass, twigs, rocks, feathers. Then, invite them to be creative and work together to create mosaics using what their found treasures. On a clear day, encourage the children to take sketch books outside and paint watercolors of the spring day.
HolidaysBoth Mother’s Day and Father’s Day occur as the school year is coming to an end. Now is the time to start planning by adding gift ideas and supplies to your Practical Life shelves. This gives children the freedom to work on their gifts as they wish, rather than rushing to get them done as the holiday draws near.
The Montessori method allows teachers the freedom to follow the interests of the child. A prepared teacher and environment allows children to develop those interests and explore the world around them.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, April 23, 2013.