Taking Art Outside

 β€œLet the be children free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.” Dr Maria Montessori 

Process Art is not only important to us as a family and as a trained Montessori teacher, it is the only kind of art advocated for by the majority of those in the childhood social neurological development world for children under the age of 8 years. 

For us, it just makes sense to take Art outside. Art is all about the sensorial world and there’s no better Prepared Environment that plays to the senses than the outdoors. 


At the beach or in the forest, nature can inspire the child and spark their imagination. 


Art also helps us extend what we’ve been exploring as part of our monthly Montessori Nature Study

A little preparation can go along way. Here are some of our favourite things to bring outside:

  1. A thin, easy to carry watercolour palette
  2. mini clipboard to secure paper and provide a writing surface
  3. A large watercolour paper pad cut into quarters for easy transport
  4. This workbook is becoming a fast favourite.
  5. As is this one
  6. Nature Anatomy is our absolute favourite Nature Study book and the one we have been using for our own Nature Study for the past year. 
  7. Lyra pencil crayons are some of the best on the market. Vibrant true tones that spread like butter on the paper and the Ferby is the perfect size for little hands. 
  8. A well made, well fitting child sized backpack to keep all of it in. 

We also love adding audiobooks to our art times. Calm classics quietly read in the background help prepare a space for peaceful art. 

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All this with a healthy homemade snack and water bottle and you are set to make art outside.

Even the youngest toddler will enjoy squishing fingerpaint onto paper while under a big tree or beside a quiet stream.  

If outdoor art is new to you take it slow and prepare in advance. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Think about your own child’s interests/abilities. Do they love crayons over watercolours?
  • Go at a peaceful time of day. Tired and hungry children are not happy artists. 
  • Process art is exactly that. Let the child lead. It’s about the scribbles and sensorial input, not about how much the finished product looks like you wanted it to look.
  • Art can be messy (and that’s a good thing). Prepare in advance with something to clean up spills, wipe fingers and pack wet things home in. 

Now go and enjoy. If you happen to try an outdoor art session we would love you to share it with us on social media either on our Facebook page or on Instagram by tagging us. 

Sunday Book Club Summer Edition Part 1: Books, activities and more

We love Summer and all that it has to offer.

With school over, the boys and I have been spending lots of time outside. We always take a Montessori approach to home learning, which simply means that we “follow the child”. So although there is always an opportunity to foster curiosity we don’t advocate for structured, academic summer home learning. 

However, we do love finding new and interesting activities and books that help spark that curiosity. Quentin has been interested in pond life and so with that in mind here are some of our favourite fiction books for 3-6 about the topic. 


Over and Under the Pond is absolutely excellent for exploring a pond biome and life cycles. It’s perfect for introducing these concepts to children 3 and 4 or opening up larger discussions for the 5’s and 6’s. 
Pool is beautifully drawn, imaginative and above all completely wordless. We love the picture story’s ability to suck a child into the story teller role. It’s so interesting the differences in descriptions and abstract depth that come when you read this book in a mixed age setting and ask them to read it to you. 
Beyond the Pond is such a favourite that we’ve featured it before. Intended for children who are in the Second Plane, we began reading this when Quentin was 4 because of the richness of the text. If you want to introduce words such as “extraordinary” and “raucous” into your child’s vocabulary, sit down with this book. 
In the Red Canoe is the story of a Grandfather and Granddaughter gently paddling around a lake, taking in the wildlife, told through the eyes of the child. It’s gorgeously illustrated and a soothing read at the end of the day. 

The lily pads are in full bloom at our local freshwater pond. We often take art supplies with us in a backpack as well as some snacks and a blanket to make a day of it. 


Watercolours are so easy to bring outside. They dry quickly, clean up easily and are just so pretty and delicate. 

I love having little ideas ready in case Quentin asks for Art, or is looking for a new game, or has an interest in a specific nature theme. Allyson of Tanglewood Hollow produces some of the best Montessori compatible Nature Study themed materials out there. She has recently opened a printables shop here. I’m absolutely thrilled as now I can get her materials and immediately download them to take with us or display in our Montessori workspace.

Last but not least a Giveaway 

Summer Giveaway 
The Summer Curriculum found here, is “a guide of 26 pages filled with summer songs and poems, art exploration, garden activities and games, science exploration, reading, and more! Make a nature weaving, do some garden yoga, race invertebrates, and build a terrarium!” 

Stay tuned Monday July 10th on our Instagram feed found here as we are thrilled to giveaway one professionally printed copy of the Summer Curriculum for you to use to help create all that “awe and wonder” that we as Montessorians are so passionate about. 

We hope that you are having a relaxing, exciting and memory making Summer. 

Sunday Book Club: Outside your window: A first book of nature

We love nature themed books and this one is absolutely stunning. 


Broken down into the four seasons, it’s the artwork that first drew me in. Stunning collages accompany songs, stories, recipes and so much more. 


Each pages collage is beautiful and perfectly captures the mood of th season it describes. 



With so many ideas to try and stories to share it is sure to be a favourite for years to come. 

April Nature Study: Bees and Wildflowers

April’s Nature Study was a favourite of mine. We love to spend time in our gardens and whether your space is a farm or a window box you can enjoy the wonders a packet of wildflower seeds brings. 
Here’s some of the things we covered this month. 


We participated in a gorgeous materials swap that brought us things that look deeper into the life cycle of a honey bee and the role of bees in fruit production. 


We set up a mason bee house to encourage solitary bees to come to our outdoor spaces. Solitary bees don’t sting or swarm but they do pollinate. Perfect for any space. We also enjoyed learning about different bee species from around the world with the beautiful cards from Twig and Moth


We dried flower petals and used our new Botanicum Postcards to explore other plant species. 


And of course we went outside. Spring is ending where we live but there are still some flowers around if you know where to look. 

This is one of the easiest Nature Studies to do. A packet of wildflower seeds is inexpensive and can be found at your local garden centre, some hardware stores and even big box stores. They require little care and will usually grow without any human care if you scatter them in the right place. Try sprinkling them into a window box and leave a small spray bottle near by for eager little hands. 

Our favourite Montessori friendly Spring gifts

March 20th, the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere is a big deal at our house. 

Spring. New leaves, new life and warmer weather. There are also so many beautiful cultural traditions and celebrations around this time of year. 

Like all holidays, we as adults tend to want to give the children in our lives “all the things”. But as we mentioned here, it is the experience a child seeks, not the stuff. 

And so, we as Montessorians (and as aspiring minimalists) try to advocate for spring holiday gifts that facilitate a child’s imagination, curiosity and sense of wonder. 


We love making these adorable Pom Pom rabbits found here. The Montessori side of me loves the fine motor hand movements required. Scissor practice is also great Practical Life activity for toddlers and up. Crafting with a child is a beautiful way to spend a day. 


A beautifully curated “basket” of new kitchen gadgets and baking supplies found here, invites a budding chef into the kitchen for shared baking time with a loved one. 


This sweet little set from Montessori Services with a few packets of seeds tucked in is perfect for toddlers. Spending time in the backyard together and watching your garden grow is such a lovely way to connect with a child. 


A DIY Nature explorer kit (or a purchased kit from here) is one of our absolute favourite gifts to give. The gift of nature is a powerful one to give a child. One whose benefits will last a lifetime. We love these postcards by Playful Learning to tuck into our exploring kits. 


And then, there’s simply the act of giving nothing at all. Of instead being mindful of what has been given to us, and sharing that love of all things new and bright and green with a child. 

Because that’s what they really want. Not our stuff, but our time. 

Sunday Book Club: Nature Journalling


We love being submersed in nature. There are so many beautiful experiences to offer to a child, by simply being out in nature. 

Collecting treasures from our trips as well as memories came naturally and with that came the need for a place to store everything. 


Nature journalling can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like. We chose the simpler side and I enlisted some help. 



This book came highly recommended and I’m so glad we got it. It is gorgeous, takes us through every stage and sets the bar high for our future journalling to strive to. 
The pages are beautiful enough for both Quentin and I to just flip through and discuss. From flowers to animals to landscapes we have poured over its pages. 

My hope is that Quentin may decide to use this independently as he gets older and it will certainly hold out for him if he does.  

Sunday Book Club: Swirl by Swirl – Spirals in Nature

Anyone who knows me can tell you, Maths are a very big love in our house. So, when there is a beautifully illustrated Montessori friendly book that features not only nature, but the Fibonacci sequence; well I just couldn’t resist. 
  
 

Swirl by Swirl, Joyce Sidman

Incredibly detailed pictures set with simple text, this book will capture a child’s interest at any age. 

  
The delicate way Math reveals itself in nature is a beautiful one. There is an excellent information section at the back of this book, explaining Fibonacci and many other interesting bits about nature. Quentin at almost 4 enjoys carefully scanning the pages, looking for all of the details. He happily identifies swirls and this book is a great way to add the extension of some nature exploration. On our nature walks he looks for patterns. Perhaps he doesn’t yet find Fibbonaci in a pinecone or a sunflower. But I do. And I can marvel beauty of it with him. 

  
This book touches on the subtleties of it all from ferns unfolding to a chipmunk curled in its den. There is more there than we realize, we just have to stop and look.