Mata Garden

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“The first thing I had was a little seed,

The first thing I had was a little seed,

The first thing I had was a little seed,

The sun’s gonna bless my garden.”

This joyful song can be heard spontaneously throughout the school as the children explore, examine and plant their seedlings in their Mata garden beds. They delight in seeing the daily growth and talking about the future of their garden plots, as well as looking around and appreciating the work that the parent volunteers and the other classrooms have done!

There is much that is connected to working with actual growing materials: our students study the names of parts of plants, the patterns of roots, the shapes of leaves, the types of climbing stems, the arrangement of petals of flowers and so much more — and that is just in the area of botany! As always in Montessori, we begin with the actual plant, leaf, root, flower and vine as we teach the correct botanical terms, or nomenclature. In a addition, there is a connection to geometry, mathematics (“How much has the plant grown this week? Let’s put it on our graph!”), and geography (“In what biome would this plant naturally be found?”)

A wonderful book for parents to read, to bring about the appreciation of how meaningful this gift is to the children, is the book, “The Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder,” by Richard Louv. Louv is a journalist and author of eight books, which have been translated into 13 languages and published in 17 countries, and have helped launch an international movement to connect children and their families to nature. He is co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, an organization helping build the international movement to connect people and communities to the natural world. With artist Robert Bateman, he serves as honorary co-chair of Canada’s Child in Nature Alliance. He appears frequently on national radio and television programs, including the Today Show, CBS Evening News, and NPR’s Fresh Air, and often addresses national and international gatherings. In 2010, he delivered the plenary keynote at the national conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and in 2012 was keynote speaker at the first White House Summit on Environmental Education.

Louv writes that “when a child is out in nature, all the senses get activated. He is immersed in something bigger than himself, rather than focusing narrowly on one thing, such as a computer screen. He’s seeing, hearing, touching, even tasting. Out in nature, a child’s brain has the chance to rejuvenate, so the next time he has to focus and pay attention, perhaps in school, he’ll do better. Kids who don’t get out much lack the sense of wonder that only nature can provide.”

The children and the Mata Montessori guides thank you for all you have done and continue to do to create this wonderful outdoor laboratory for learning, laboratory for life experience!