At last, summer is here! The outside world is in full bloom and the days are longer and warmer, which sets the tone for natural exploration. Here are some fun Montessori-style summer activities to keep your little ones busy, engaged and learning.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that the outdoor environment was an extension of the indoor classroom, because nature provides endless opportunities for experiential learning. Spending time in nature promotes physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development in every child.
Watch the clouds go by
Lay on the grass and look up at the sky to study the clouds. Identify shapes and designs, and don’t forget to integrate a little bit of science with naming the different types of clouds. You can even print out the different types of clouds on cards, and use them to help identify each one.
Gather and collect
Visit the beach, forest, park or any outdoor area to collect shells, rocks, acorns, twigs, and other natural items that you stumble upon. Sort them, identify them, draw them, count them or paint on them – there are endless possibilities!
Marvellous pond life
Explore the ecosystem of a pond by observing the life cycles of little creatures such as dragonflies, snails, beetles and frogs.
Practical life activities
Sometimes the best activities are the most simple, mundane, everyday tasks at home. Children are naturally curious and love to participate in the routines of daily life they see all around them.
Pouring water between two jugs can offer endless entertainment for kids, as well as build their practical life skills. Switch it up by pouring water from a jug to a glass, pouring water through a funnel, and pouring water to a marked line on a cup.
Wash, wash, wash!
A spray bottle and cloth or sponge is all you need for this fun and purposeful activity. From cars and bikes to windows and outdoor toys, washing objects is a wonderful, rewarding activity that teaches children the value of cleaning and taking care of their possessions.
Nurture a green thumb
The Montessori philosophy places a big focus on teaching children to care for our environment, and caring for plants is an ideal way to foster a love and appreciation for nature. If you have a garden, encourage your child to help with planting, watering, and weeding. If you don’t have a garden, simply caring for a small pot plant or herb garden will give them a sense of accountability and purpose.
Visit your local fruit farm to pick some strawberries, cherries or apples, which can be followed by cooking, baking or snack preparation.
Let the creative juices flow
Montessori sensory art activities and projects are an excellent way to help your child develop creativity, strengthen their fine motor skills, and give them the opportunity to explore and use their senses. Try to keep it open-ended (the focus is on the process, not the end result), simple, hands-on, and child-led.
- Give your child a bucket of water, a paintbrush and encourage them to paint on the bricks or wall.
- Go outside and try splatter painting.
- Make some coloured ice cubes by adding food colouring to the water, then paint with them.
- Paint large rocks and pebbles.
- Decorate a pot for a houseplant.
From a young age, we need to teach children not to accept the status quo, and to make their own predictions. Encourage a higher level of thinking and foster an excitement for science and research with these fun activities.
Sink or float
This one is a firm favourite for all ages! Find some small objects around the house and garden, and place them in a bowl of water. Ask your child to make predictions on what will sink and what will float.
Rescue frozen toys
Freeze some small toys and then “rescue” them using a child’s hammer.
Make your own little volcano using clay, and allow it to harden. Add some bicarbonate of soda in the opening, along with some vinegar, and enjoy the eruption!
Make ice melt faster
Try vinegar, sugar, salt, warm/hot water (under supervision) and let your child predict which one will make the ice melt faster.
We hope these ideas inspire you to extend your child’s work outdoors this summer to see, explore and learn about the natural world. Remember to always follow your child’s lead, and enjoy the fun in the sun. (Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen!)