Forest Play for Language Acquisition


It seems that Fall might be everlasting this year in the lovely midwest and if this was not a sign of a serious climate issue, I wouldn’t mind at all. M and I are seizing the day and taking as many trips to the forest as we can before the cold weather descends upon us. We will still head to the forest in the snow, but there’s nothing like walking through a forest as fire-colored leaves float through the air and fall gently at our feet.

During our trip today I was astounded by the fodder for new vocabulary that we found in the woods: log, wood, stick, branch, roots, moss, leaf, oak leaf, beech leaf, acorn, bark, dirt, path, thorns (that was a memorable one), wind, and so many more. Maria Montessori wrote, “The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” Think about learning the word leaf while looking at a photograph of a leaf versus being able to crunch the leaves and pile the leaves and notice that some leaves look different from other leaves.

Montessori understood that the more senses a child engages during learning, the more  neural connections the child will make.  So often we only give children a chance to learn visually or audibly. There are many great ideas out there for sensory bins and while sensory bins are super for imaginative play, the best and easiest thing for sensory stimulation is the great outdoors. The woods present children with the reality of our beautiful world, rather than man-made gooey goop and plastic toys in a sensory bin. Letting children get immersed in the wonders of the forest is truly a gift.