The Outdoor Classroom

The trees ask me,

And the sky,

And the sea asks me,

Who am I?

The grass asks me,

And the sand,

And the rocks ask me

Who I am.

The wind tells me

At nightfall

And the rain tells me.

Someone small.

Someone small

Someone small

But a piece of it all.

By Felice Holman


At Humboldt Park Montessori, our outdoor space is simply another classroom where lots of learning takes place! Outdoor play and exploration are essential to a child’s development, so we go outside for at least an hour each day but often much more. 

Research tells us that time in nature refreshes a child’s brain and soul and helps relieve stress. The children use their senses to squish mud, pour water in sand, climb branches, swing, slide, bang, and carry. They release pent up emotions by squealing and screeching in joy. They build their muscles and become aware of their bodies as they run, climb, and jump. 


At HPM, our outdoor experiences are influenced by the work of forest schools around the world. We provide loose parts for the children to use their own creativity in play. They build forts and balance beams with boards. The create kitchens with stumps and mud-filled pans. They pump water into buckets and float bits of bark like boats. They dig in the dirt to discover worms. They mix up potions of leaves, sticks, and flower petals. Nature provides their building materials and art palettes. 

The children also observe the change of seasons, qualities of plants and animals, and the nature of rocks and soil. Their experiences make them curious to learn more about how the world works and spills over into classroom science work and personal research. Children ask lots of questions because of what they see in the natural world, and the teacher provides materials in the classroom to uncover answers to these questions. 


Outdoor play and work is so essential that we go outside even when it’s cold and wet. We bundle up in all the layers to make sure that the weather does not prevent us from all the learning that happens outside. Our friends at Maplewood Outside School have some helpful tips on how to dress for outside play in winter.