Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Montessori Style Vacations: America’s National Parks

NAMC montessori style vacations america's national parks cape lookout lighthouse
Guard it well, for it is far more precious than money… once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price. ~ Ansel Adams

A few years ago, while my family and I were exploring the scenic waterways of the North Carolina coast, we came upon a sign for the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Ready for an adventure, we set off down the road. Maintained by the National Park Service and accessible only by boat, Cape Lookout Lighthouse was one of those hidden gems that made for a great day of exploring not only North Carolina history, but also the flora, fauna, and physical geography of the North Carolina Coast.

The United States has over 400 National Parks. Exploring them together, truly puts Maria Montessori’s idea of Cosmic Education and the interconnectedness of all living and non-living things into perspective. Montessori also believed that the outdoors was the best classroom for children. Living, breathing, and interacting with nature is the best way to help children develop environmental awareness.

Montessori Style Vacations: America’s National Parks

The next year, when we were planning our vacation, my son, remembering the kind rangers at Cape Lookout, asked what other National Parks we might visit. That year we visited The Great Smoky Mountains National Park which borders both North Carolina and Tennessee. We went hiking, fishing, explored an old waterwheel and homestead, picnicked, named known flowers and trees, watched birds, looked for bears, and drove across the ancient mountains of Appalachia. It was amazing, driving across these mountains at sunset, with a thunderstorm on our heels. We began to understand why they were named the Smokies as the clouds and rain settled in.

NAMC montessori style vacations america's national parks great smoky mountains

The U.S. National Park Service has put together a 15-page brochure called “Parks for Play: 35 National Adventures for Kids of All Ages”. This pamphlet is useful for helping you plan your own Montessori eco-friendly vacations. It includes brief descriptions and pictures of 35 national parks. In addition, it provides information on the Junior Ranger and WebRangers programs for kids. The Junior Rangers program helps children explore the parks through hands-on learning activities. The WebRangers allow children to explore the parks interactively at home. In addition, there are electronic field trips (EFTs) available for Montessori teachers and parents to help students explore these beautiful, natural national treasures.

When planning your summer vacation this year, think beyond theme parks and roller coasters. Think of the fun you can have exploring the beauty and wonder of the natural world.
For more information on visiting America’s National Parks, you may like to visit:
NAMCs curriculum manuals in natural sciences provide a full range of activities to help children learn more about our natural world, and the many opportunities we have to live in harmony with all living beings.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, June 1, 2011.


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