Watching the children with their insect companion really clarified the importance of the outside prepared environment. Young children are consummate naturalists; as Montessori noted, they are "sensorial explorers" who absorb every aspect of their environment. Providing children with the opportunity to interact daily with the plants and animals that surround them is an essential part of the child's experience as it affords them with the opportunity to carefully observe natural phenomena (the changing of seasons, the lifecycles of plants and animals, the importance of pollinators, a food chain, and an ecosystem).
The Montessori method of education sees education as a natural, spontaneous process in which children actively construct and refine their understanding of abstract concepts by scaffolding the information around meaningful experiences, rather than treating children as if they were empty vessels to be filled with memorized facts and accumulated wisdom.
It is experiences like these, in the natural environment, with living creatures, that serve to reconnect children with nature, to spark their interest in the natural sciences and the world around them, and to provide children with an authentic Montessori education in the natural sciences.
producing naturalist drawings and watercolour paintings,
and learning to recognize and appreciate different fruits and vegetables.
sorting miniature vegetables,
wrapped and tied by the older children (who practiced their bow tying),
It is such a pleasure to watch young children in the process of investigating the world around them.