In Villa di Maria’s Primary classrooms, the outdoor prepared environment is often the first place children head as they arrive in the morning. The outdoor prepared environment is available and accessible throughout the morning work cycle. Children are free to move outdoors, as the door is open to an outdoor patio with easels, tables, gardening tools, aprons, brushes and brooms, and other materials. There are several areas in the outdoor environment that are so appealing to little ones. One of these areas is bird-watching.
The bird watching area is situated in a quiet corner of the patio and includes a chair facing out toward the wooded area of Villa’s school grounds, a table with binoculars, and several bird guide books. The laminated booklet of Backyard Birds of North America contains clear photographs of many different birds and is easy for small hands to hold and turn pages.
Bird watching in Montessori is a good example of the importance of identifying everything a child encounters in the world by its true name; a red bird may be a cardinal, a black bird may be a common raven or an American crow, a blue bird may be a blue jay, a scrub jay, or an eastern bluebird. During the sensitive period of language which occurs during the first six years of a child’s life, identifying a thing by its proper name is extremely important to language development.
“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names.” — Confucius