CREATING OUTDOOR SPACES THAT SUPPORT LEARNING: IDEAS FROM A MONTESSORI-INSPIRED FARM SCHOOL TEACHER


Homeschool girl learning

Have you ever thought of what you could do to make your backyard a more inviting space for play and learning for your child?


Many people have ample learning experiences just waiting to be unlocked for their child, but just don’t know what kind of spaces to provide.


These are some of my favorite outdoor learning spaces, which I’ve used both at home and at my Montessori-inspired Farm School for ages 3-9. All of these learning spaces work well, even if you have just a small area to work with. Never underestimate the potential of even the smallest of outdoor spaces!


RAMPS


Homeschool kids playing and learning Ramps

Fencing boards make great lightweight ramps for children to move around and adjust with their play.


We’ve used plain scrap wood and also painted some to look like streets since this is an activity often paired with cars. Let children experiment with different heights and angles and how this affects the speed of the item going downward. A verbal explanation from an adult isn’t typically needed. Kids learn all they need to know simply from the sensorial experience of testing it out themselves! You can prop ramps against stumps, fences, hills, swing sets, or trees.


DIRT PIT

Homeschool Kid playing with Dirt Pit

For safety reasons, I don’t allow my students to dig holes just anywhere. Farm animals or running children could easily trip and fall due to unexpected holes, so we focus the digging in specific areas.


This is simply an enclosed wooden area (like a short raised garden bed) filled with soil. We keep this area stocked with a few different sized shovels, pots, and buckets for dumping, digging, dirt castle building and all!


ROCK PIT


Homeschool Kid playing Rock Pit

This space is enclosed with wooden timbers and filled with small pebbles and smooth pond rocks.


Rocks give a different sensory input than dirt, and some children prefer this to any other space!


We keep shovels, dump trucks, and large buckets nearby for filling and dumping.


MUD KITCHEN


Homeschool Kid playing with Mud Kitchen

By far, this is my favorite and most used outdoor area in my outdoor classroom space!


Children bring mud, water, leaves, feathers, and all the nature things here for mixing and experimentation. We keep old kitchen utensils (whisks, tongs, spoons) and bowls or pans here for the children to use. It’s a great outlet for imaginative play, which doesn’t always revolve around food. You can use several things to make a raised mud kitchen spac