Montessori Moment

Analogies in the Outdoors
by Joan Ratajczak, Middle School Humanities Directress

Within Middle School literature this year, we are studying poetry by American authors to learn about symbolism and analogies.  Compressed analogies are similes and metaphors. Expanded analogies become parables and allegory. To prepare for this, the students did an exercise in analogies which concurrently allowed them to connect with the land around them.

“Life in the open air, in the sunshine, and a diet high in nutritional content coming from the produce of neighboring fields improve the physical health, while the calm surroundings, the silence, the wonders of nature satisfy the need of the adolescent mind for reflection and meditation.” ~ Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence

On a glorious fall day, the children went out to the woods where they found an object from nature.  Using jeweler’s loupes, they then spent time on the hillside looking at the details of the object.  The loupes magnify the object and shut out any peripheral vision so that the intricate details of the object can be appreciated and foster a sense of wonder. The students then generated analogies by asking, “What else does this remind me of?”  After coming up with a list of 10 things, they sketched what they saw in the loupe on paper.   The students shared their objects and analogies in small groups and then wrote poems of their own inspired by their lists. When class time was over, students didn’t want to stop writing their poems!  Afterwards we read and analyzed poems by American authors and searched for the beautiful literary devices that they used to create word pictures.

We are so blessed at GSCM to have our outdoor campus and the gift to incorporate nature into our education through Montessori philosophy.  Examples of student poetry are below:


long and flowing as if it was a river,

strong and mighty as if it was an oak tree

red, yellow, and green acting as it was a stop light;

red as it if was filled with rage

green as if it was ready to blow

then yellow to slow it down;

then at the end, ready to stop.

Flimsy and weak just like a piece of spinach

rolling in the wind just like a caterpillar,

lifting in the wind as if it was a football.

       James Brantley- A Leaf


Little heart shapes blowing through the wind,

Like fire’s flames and grapes on a vine.

Like beans and acorns and little bird eggs.

Like bugs with little hairs,

And Mickey Mouse ears and peanuts.

Finally, last but not least,

little popcorn kernels not all the way popped.

        Mary Gruber- Little Pink Lupine Flower


I spy with crusty eye some spots,

a snake skin in the forest.

Pyramids in a desert of sandstone

and yet, there’s snow.

Craters, pits, fissures,

sandy like the moon,

On a special cliff,

my world can be seen,

every nook and cranny…

       Catherine Stuebbe- Tree Bark