Combining nature and classroom

Nature-Based Education

“Children indeed love flowers, but they need to do more than remain among them and contemplate their colored blossoms. They find their greatest pleasure in acting, in knowing, in exploring, even apart from the attraction of external beauty.” – Dr. Montessori

We believe the natural environment plays a large part in good health, emotional well-being, and a sense of peace for children. With careful planning, we have a created a variety of areas on our campus where children experience and explore the natural world.

Natural Playground

MCR’s Natural Playground is a re-imagined playground. Nearly a decade ago, our founder dreamt of a nature-based playtime, and using natural materials, the playground was designed and constructed to facilitate the child’s imagination while inspiring gross motor play. Children are free to create, get messy, and take risks as they climb, run, and explore. Through their play, children connect with nature, allowing them to develop self-direction, promote decision making, and master emerging physical skills.

Our beautiful playground is used daily. The custom-designed sky shade, along with a large variety of native trees, provides inspiration for natural exploration and discovery. When weather permits, the children in our after school program spend their entire time outside.

Outdoor Classroom

The Outdoor Classroom at MCR is one of our most celebrated features. With more than 120 different plant species, the garden becomes a wealth of botany study and nature appreciation. Each classroom leads to the garden, giving children the opportunity to interact with nature firsthand. Classroom windows extend from floor to ceiling providing year-round exposure to our outdoor learning environment. With the help of our elementary students, the school harvested more than 800 pounds of product each year to be used for our hot lunch program.


Early childhood is the ideal time to establish healthy eating habits. By introducing a variety of foods grown in our garden, we give our students a hands-on awareness of where the foods they eat come from. Our MCR chef creates nutritious and delicious menu items from scratch with the produce produced from the garden, giving our students the opportunity to see the whole cycle of the growing process to the foods they eat. With our 13 raised beds and a greenhouse for spring planting, the growing possibilities are limitless.

Special Features

MCR’s building and grounds were designed to enable children to move freely in a secure, spacious, prepared environment. Since the school first broke ground, we have added on to the original building four times. As we try to embrace and respect nature as well as ensure for safety, our facility includes:

  • Water pump radiant-heated floors
  • Stained concrete flooring throughout the hallways highlighted by a nature walkway and native animal prints
  • Operable windows from floor to ceiling enabling children to view the outdoor classroom
  • Natural lighting, supplemented by dual-switch, energy-efficient overhead lighting
  • Spacious carpeted classrooms with child-size fixtures
  • A multi-purpose activity area
  • Soothing earth tone finishes
  • Security-coded front entrance
  • Completely fenced outdoor spaces
  • Intercom system throughout the building