Earth Day Every Day
Thoughts & Reflections
This month we celebrate Earth Day. We bring the natural world into the classroom in various ways, and we thought we’d look at some of those here.
1. There’s mostly natural materials.
Look around a Montessori classroom. You’ll see lots of beautiful objects, boxes, and materials, and, if you’re looking for it, very little plastic. The materials are made mostly of glass, ceramic, metal, wood, wicker, porcelain, fabric, and other natural substances. This is one of the ways we show children we respect them — with natural, breakable, beautiful things. I trust you.
These materials feel and look different. There’s sometimes history behind them, a story to tell about how someone made this basket by hand, a story about how we’ve been embellishing our clothes for generations and perhaps you’d like to work on sewing too, a story about how different metals have different colors, and though they all feel hard, some are softer than others, but they can all be polished
They’re also just more beautiful. They’re part of the reason children can’t keep their hands to themselves when they walk into a Montessori classroom, and it’s just fantastic.
2. We bring plants inside.
We need plants for the oxygen we breathe. Through photosynthesis is typically better understood in an Elementary classroom, children absolutely understand the symbiosis of Plant Care, an important material in the classroom.
We keep plants in the class to make this space beautiful, sometimes because there’s nothing growing outside, and because they clean the air we breathe. To thank the plants, we wash their leaves, dust them, water them, and occasionally even re-pot them.
When we care for plants in our classroom, we’re helping children care for the plants in the outside world, too.
3. We learn about Biology.
Children love to acquire vocabulary. “What’s that?!” is a question parents are quite familiar with. We create vocabulary cards to help identify different aspects of Biology which might be difficult to recreate in the classroom, or might be inaccessible to a child.
Parts of a Seahorse, Types of Penguins, and State Flowers are among the myriad categories of vocabulary a child might have available to him in the classroom. We can create anything a child shows interest in — Parts of a Root, Galapagos Island Animals, Backyard Insects.
In this way, we bring the world to the child. It’s not scary or strange or gross, it’s just unknown, and now it’s accessible.
4. We learn about other cultures.
When we talk about things children eat in different parts of the world, we’re also learning about weather, ecology, history, so many subjects! People have different holidays and festivals, wear different clothing, do different activities, and build different types of dwellings, all reflecting the natural environment — hot or cold, mountainous or beach, wet or dry. Do you take a boat or a bike to school? What do you wear to play outside? What foods do you have at the store?
These questions tell us so much about our natural world.
5. We emphasize Care of the Environment.
There are many ways children help to keep the classroom tidy, and we call these Care of the Environment. Everything from sweeping to recycling to plant care to dusting to washing, we take care of the classroom. This is our space, and we want to keep in beautiful.
This is infusing a sense of ownership and responsibility in the world around you, something we remember particularly this Earth Day.
Written by:Charlotte Wood