How do two Montessori infants enjoy the outdoors? A mat and two hats. That’s all we need, nothing special. They feel the grass, taste the leaves, find and smell the flowers, hear the birds, and soak in the sun. It’s all about simplicity. They are completely capable of finding ways to enjoy themselves.

A bit ago, my sister-in-law told me about Forest Schools and loved the idea of children experiencing hands-on learning by way of nature. It seems to go hand-in-hand with Montessori teachings, so I’ve been making it a point to have the girls outside more often.

Since birth, we enjoyed walking them around the property, pointing out trees and animals, complete with descriptions. We still do this. While one of the girls is engrossed in something on the mat, I will take the other around the yard. They touch buds and fresh leaves as we admire the new growth.

During the winter, we didn’t spend nearly as much time outdoors as we would’ve liked. When we did, we went for walks, we pulled them on their sleds, and we would just lay on our backs to feel the coolness of the snow and admire the sky. When it was snowing, we would often go on the back deck to marvel at the snowflakes and the crispness of the air.

Being that we weren’t able to go out as often as we may have liked to, we often brought nature inside for us to experience and enjoy. This often included a container of snow for the girls to feel and, of course, taste. We have indoor plants that they also enjoyed viewing and touching. In my opinion, plants make the best mobiles. Both girls loved to lay underneath and stare-up adoringly at the greenery.

As the weather is starting to become nicer, we are spending much more time outdoors. Now, after their first nap, we bring out their round mat and I just observe them. There are times I will work on the garden, in the front yard, and provide the girls with a basket of some activities, such as balls and a car. They are free to watch me work, work with their items in the basket, and analyze the environment around them.

Lately we’ve been going to the backyard so that our animals can join us if the choose. We lay on the mat and the girls will explore the area as they wish. They’ll often move to the edge of the mat where they will play with the grass and leaves. Being that everything still goes in the mouth, they are closely supervised. It’s against my nature, but I try very hard to resist the urge to snatch whatever, safe, organic matter that moves towards their lips. We don’t use pesticides and they aren’t near anything remotely toxic, so I keep my cool while they realize that leaves don’t taste yummy. They make a face of disgust and I kindly explain that, while they contain fiber, they aren’t something we normally eat. Then, depending on the time, we will then often go inside to enjoy a snack or lunch.

The other day we enjoyed bubbles. I had purchased some from the store during a previous grocery haul, but it’s not too difficult to make your own solution and wand with items you may already have available at home. The girls would sit patiently and watch intently as I blew on the wand, then their gaze would follow the flight of the bubbles. There were a few times, when a bubble would land directly in front of them, that they would reach out to touch it. Just to have it pop before they were able to. They didn’t appear to be upset when it disappeared, but they seemed to become much more interested. Seeing their enjoyment, bubbles are something we plan on enjoying lot more. That being the case, I needed a recipe that would allow me to create more solution with the items I already had at home.

Make a wand from a pipe cleaner and try this bubble solution:

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dish soap 

Stir the warm water and sugar together until the sugar dissolves.  Then combine with the dish soap and let sit for a few hours (or overnight).  Enjoy! 

How do you and your family enjoy the great outdoors?

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