Winter at Wise Owls


In this edition of the LINC blog, LINC Graduates Michelle Donohoe and Dorothy Dempsey and the team at Wise Owls Montessori in Coolkenno, Tullow, Co Wicklow, embrace the concept of Hegge in their Montessori preschool.



Embracing the concept of Hygge in our Montessori preschool has been both magical and gratifying. The concept of living in the now and embracing the simple and natural things in life has been wonderful to see first-hand amongst the children. We embrace the sense of togetherness as well as capturing the feeling of nature, warmth and cosiness.

Throughout the year, we love to incorporate materials from our outdoor environment, for example, going on nature walks to collect branches and leaves to make our season tree which is proudly painted and created by the children and displayed in the classroom throughout the year. The children love learning about the different seasons and incorporating nature and hygge into the classroom. Providing natural objects made from wood allow us and the children to feel closer to the simplicity of nature. We have also recently gathered natural materials to make our own Winter Wreaths for our school doors. The children had great fun wrapping straw around some wire and gluing on some dried oranges, pinecones, and flowers from the garden. This creates a lovely natural sensory experience where the children gained more independence and self-confidence to master their abilities and skills. They also got to explore the natural environment and develop their sense of wonder and awe through active learning.

We also get the children bundled up in their cosy wet gear and wellies to explore the icy outdoors every day. Jack Frost arrived in Ireland with a bang over the last couple of weeks and the children were immediately filled with excitement. They were invited to explore the ice that Jack Frost had left and were actively encouraged to use their imaginations to think about where the ice came from and what it felt and looked like. Some of the children told us that the ice “looks like glass and it’s really cold on my hands”, whilst other children told us that it was “really white, and it comes from raindrops”. The children used the various tools from our garden mud kitchen, such as spoons, and wooden spatulas to break and scoop the ice and water from the bowls and to gather some of the ice from the crunchy grass. Our garden provides a natural environment for the children to engage their senses and be in the moment without distractions that may occur within the walls of the classroom. Being present in the moment is at the forefront of our learning here at Wise Owls alongside providing a space that allows the children to work collaboratively with one another on activities such as those named above. This allows for team building skills and building successful relationships and partnerships amongst the peer groups.
As part of our winter activities, we love to make our own homemade soup which we find is a lovely simple Hygge task for the children to engage in. The children enhance their teamwork skills as well as their fine and gross motor skills, by washing, peeling, and chopping all the vegetables themselves. Taking inspiration from Meik Wiking, “the slowness of the process and the feeling of taking care of things”, like vegetables and turning them into a warm, nurturing dish to share together, for us, really captures the essence of Hygge; presence, pleasure, togetherness, and comfort, to name but a few!!
This blog first appeared on www.hyggeintheearlyyears.co.uk
About Wise Owls Montessori

About Wise Owls Montessori

Wise Owls Montessori preschool opened their doors just 6 short years ago. It all started with only 4 children and 2 members of staff. We had a small garden and very few materials. The curriculum being used was Montessori and Aistear based with adaptations depending on what interests/needs the children had each day/year. As time went on, we gradually grew in size now having 4 staff members (Michelle, Dorothy, Melissa and Rachel) and up to 33 children joined the Wise Owls family. We began making the garden much bigger and adding lots of extra areas. We broadened our horizons and began incorporating the outdoors and nature into the setting much more. Thus, we found the Hygge method of learning which is also a way of living life in a calm and relaxed manner while incorporating the natural world into your everyday life enjoying the simplicity of it all and being in the moment, developing upon the wellbeing of oneself. The children loved it and we found they really enjoyed the exploration and different weathers etc. Their inquisitive little minds were stimulated and they had never-ending questions and interests each day as they continue to every day still and hopefully will far into the future.

Wise Owls is located in the countryside boasting the natural scenery which includes farm animals/wildlife and grass fields surrounding the setting itself. The garden is made up of mostly wooden materials such as a treehouse, storytelling area, excavation site and mud kitchen to name a few. We have our very own garden patch where we attempt to grow vegetables throughout each year making soups etc. once they have fully grown and been picked. We also plant seeds, water them each day and watch the flowers grow. We have bird feeders in which we love to place food in regularly and even carry out some bird watching when we can! The sand, mud, water etc available to the children allows them to explore, learn and grow to the best of their ability and gives them the freedom to think, question and build on their knowledge.

A typical day at Wise Owls consists of outdoor play, yoga, meditation, song, dance, art and much more. The children have the freedom to make their own choices as to what activities they would prefer to do at any given moment as long as it is safe to do so we encourage it all.

With staff members who are so dedicated and have such a love of the outdoors it makes it easy to create activities and ideas for the garden. Outdoor learning has a huge impact on the child’s wellbeing and development overall encouraging happiness, a sense of calm and really it feeds each child and adult’s mind, body and soul.

Here at Wise Owls, we are currently undergoing a course to achieve Hygge Accreditation where all staff will be trained in creating a more simple, calm and happy environment for the children working on their wellbeing and contentment with the simple things in life. “Just living isn’t enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” -Hans Christian Anderson”

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