Now that summer seems (however fleetingly) to be here, it’s an ideal time to get out and about, especially as this year is International Year of Forests. If you have woodland near you, it can provide a fun but cheap day out.

I make no apology for drawing on the interesting article by Lucy Watson in the latest issue of Montessori International for some of my ideas this month. The first is to collect as many different varieties of leaves as possible and make ‘leaf rubbings’. But make sure you make two rubbings of each leaf so that when you get back you can glue each one on to a separate small square of card. Then identify the leaves and write their names on the back of each card. You can then do matching exercises with them and also ensure the children can recognise which trees they have come from.

Montessori equipment that can be used in conjunction with a trip to woodland or a forest includes the leaf cabinet, leaf cards and the compartmented box to keep them neat. In addition, both the leaf and tree puzzles are ideal for small hands.

Another idea is to turn your children into little green men and women by showing them how to make leaf crowns. You can do this using fresh leaves and twigs that you pick up on your outing or – for something more long-lasting and easier to handle – try colourful artificial leaves. Simply cut lengths of green corrugated border roll into twice the length you need for each child’s head. Stick your leaves and twigs along half of it and then fold and stick the other half of the border down on top of this so that it holds the stems firmly in place and they do not poke into the child’s hair or scalp. Finally glue each child’s crown into a circlet that fits neatly around their head. And the traditions on which the Green Man is based gives you something new to get them thinking and talking about.

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