“There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature, to understand
and appreciate the order, harmony and beauty of nature, so that the child may
better understand and participate in the marvelous things which civilization
creates.” Dr Maria Montessori
We spent some sunny mornings turning over logs on the playground for a hands-on experience of the natural world at our feet. We discovered some worms that we gently touched, then watched them wriggle back under the soil.
We experienced nature all around us on our first buggy ride. Maria Montessori based her classroom materials on her observation that young children learn about the world through their senses. On our nature walk we feel the breeze, smell the flowers, see geese and ducks, listen to the birds and touch leaves from a tree.
Buggy rides are also the perfect introduction to the initial experience of geography. The children become familiar with landmarks (Lake Monona, Bernie’s Beach, the railroad tracks, a view of the Capitol), the landmarks’ position in relation to one another and to our starting point at Woodland.
There is a wealth of language opportunities on the journey as we encounter objects in the environment: trains, boats, bikes and (the favorite) trucks. It is a great introduction to the language of prepositions as we go over the train tracks, under the bridge, through the tunnel and around the block.
One highlight of our indoor classroom work this month was our first group cooking project, making playdough. Toddlers love activities that combine concentration (wet and dry pouring, measuring ingredients) and whole-body movement (carrying liquid in a container, stirring, kneading.) Such activities help them develop control of movement as well as large and fine motor skills. We also
practiced lessons in grace and courtesy, like asking for help, taking turns and creating a peaceful and cooperative classroom.
“The child’s nature is to aim directly and energetically at functional independence.”
- Dr. Maria Montessori
Toddlers want to “do it myself” in this sensitive period for language, independence, social development and order.
We have marveled at how quickly the toddlers have absorbed the routines of the day: waving goodbye at the window, washing hands, putting snack dishes in the bin. They run to get the broom and dust pan when snack falls on the floor.
They are already working on flipping their jackets “up and over” and pulling up pants after potty time. Their concentration is astonishing as they hang their lunchboxes in their cubbies and attempt to change their own shoes.
They are choosing the works that interest them indoors and out. They take great satisfaction in returning work to its place when we sing the clean- up song. It is so heartwarming to watch their social interaction. They are learning to say their friends’ names, handing each other paper towels, helping each other find misplaced shoes. One friend coughed a little at lunch, and the child next to him gently patted him on the back.
We are honored to be their guides for all this enthusiastic exploration. Woodland celebrated International Peace Day on Friday, September 20. While the preschoolers formed a circle on their playground to sing Light a Candle for Peace, the toddlers held hands and watched from our playground, swaying and dancing to the beautiful singing. We practiced folding our hands and bowing to one another while saying “Namaste.”
1. Thank you for remembering to send hats, jackets and rain gear as we head into the cooler months of fall. We really enjoy our time outdoors.
2. Parent mailboxes are on the wall next to the exit door; check them regularly for important communication from the Woodland administrative offices.
3. We hope to see everyone at the All School Open House, Wednesday, October 16, 5:30-7. Even if your child’s start date is later in the year we hope to see you there! This will be a chance for you and your child to explore the works and meet other T1 families. A light snack will be provided.
Becky Jones, Carolina Diaz and Tia Thao