We believe that play in the outdoor environment is one of the most valuable experiences for children to develop skills that will serve them throughout their life. Accordingly, outdoor activity is a fundamental part of the learning environment at Montecito School.
The 2-acre campus is filled with trees, plants, animals and insects. We lovingly care for domestic small mammals and birds in walk-in habitats and aviaries. Children’s natural curiosity is encouraged as they observe, touch, ask questions and build their understanding about how to respect and learn from animals. Montecito’s enthusiastic teachers embed activities such as nature study walks into the outdoor activities, providing children with opportunities to experience the world of science and nature through their senses.
We have carefully designed, constructed, and landscaped play yards, open spaces and habitats that are safe, accessible and inviting to young children. Adjacent to each classroom is a large playground and garden area. A space we call “Open Bike Circle” is a large circular open space available to each class where children build gross motor skills as they make decisions about which bikes to ride, wagons to pull, and whether they want to play on the tree swing, walk a balance beam, look for insects, crawl through a tunnel or water the garden.
As part of the Bike Circle we created dramatic play stations where children engage in role playing and imaginary play, which helps support language development and builds social interaction skills. These areas include: The gas station, playhouse, fire engine, RV and the shop.