At La Bella Vita Montessori, we try to provide a peaceful and natural outdoor area for our children to explore and play. There are a variety of ways that our students enjoy, appreciate, and connect with our outdoor play area. They may be collecting a selection of leaves to explore the vein systems, looking for tiny critters that inhabit the soil and shrubbery, or using the beauty of the outside to inspire artwork. The gardens are a hands-on experience for what may be abstractly discussed in class. Our students learn the enjoyment of growing, preparing, and finally eating what they have grown in our little garden. Even our youngest students enjoy snack from the garden. Every year we harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, strawberries and more!
In addition to gardening, we are proud to say that we are one in a little over 500 schools across the country to hold a Certified Nature Explore Classroom Certification. Nature Explore Classrooms are dynamic, nature-based play and learning spaces. Each space in our Nature Explore Classroom is separated by signs that distinguish which area of the classroom it is. These separate activity areas decrease conflicts amongst children and increase their ability to focus on play and learning.
There is a Music & Movement area that provide experiences that are vital to children’s healthy development. Well-equipped outdoor Music and Movement Areas provide an ideal place for children to learn about sound, pitch, rhythm and tonality on their own. Children are given the opportunity to manipulate a variety of nature-based musical instruments; and express musical concepts by moving their bodies to music.
There is a Building Area that provides blocks that children can experiment with outdoors in a setting where space limitations and noise from the blocks falling over are not a concern. As children build with both geometric and organic shapes, they are given the opportunity to strengthen their mathematical, visual-spatial and abstract thinking. Their building materials include wooden blocks, natural tree blocks and cookies, mini bricks, and a wooden discovery table to work on.
The Nature Art Area gives children the freedom to use their creativity and imagination in an artistic way. They are given countless opportunities to explore different artistic techniques with the inspiration of nature surrounding them. As children work with natural materials such as pine cones or seed pods and arrange them into patterns or mosaic-like pictures, they develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty of the natural world, while strengthening skills in classification and close observation.
Our Climbing and Dynamic Equipment Area is used for balance, climbing and crawling to inspire imaginations on the playground as well as better concentration in the classroom. Children develop feelings of better body competence with the log steps, our natural balance beam, climbing wall, tire obstacles, boulders and wooden ramps. Activities involving climbing and crawling help alleviate stress, allowing children to relax and maintain better concentration when they return to class indoors.
La Bella Vita’s Messy Materials Area encourages children to use their imaginations, experiments with a variety of natural objects, practice carrying heavy objects, and feel a sense of accomplishment and personal mastery over their outdoor environment. In our messy area, you will find giant tree cookies for the children to manipulate, an area food wood chips and mulch, and a sand and mud area.
In our Water Area, hands-on activities allow children to experience and change the flow of water, observe water currents, and discover which objects sink or float. They are providing with a unique outdoor water sink so that they can have access to the water whenever they want. During the summer session, we have a designated “water day” every Friday where students from all the age groups can play in different water features that we provide for their fun.
The Gathering Area is a place where teachers can meet with their students for a variety of reasons. Classes can use this area to do their line time outdoors or even eat lunch or snack. You will find that students will meet here to discuss what they would like to do that day in the outdoor classroom or even to just take a break and talk. It provides a sanctuary for them to relax and enjoy being outside.