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Little Earth Montessori "Enviro" Preschool in Paraparamu, NZ

Completed in 2009 Little Earth Montessori was designed by Don Jamieson Architecture and was a runner up in the National Sustainability Award by NZ Wood. A green, environmentally and sustainably designed school, it reflects the Montessori philosophy of holistic development creating independent learners.

‘He maungarongo ki runga i te whenua’ 
‘May peace prevail on Earth’ 

With the sun reflecting off these words adorning the peace pole in six languages in the centre of the garden, the Little Earth Montessori preschool is a haven of peace and reflects a growing in harmony with nature.

From their website: "Little Earth Montessori Kapiti is a place where learning and the natural world are connected. We provide children with a setting in which they can grow, develop a sense of belonging, experience the joy of learning and nurture their sense of wonder."

Rammed earth walls, untreated, sustainably harvested cedar, sandstone pavers and use of natural light and ventilation makes for a healthy, naturalised learning environment. An article from Kapiti Independent News describes a visit to the centre, where the children are making 'wild bird cookies' to hang from the because, they explain, "Birds don't get enough food in winter."

Strengthening one's connection with nature and the environment is an integral part of the ECEC.

"Within the child lies the fate of the future" - Maria Montessori

The children are involved in planning and planting the organic winter garden, as well as experimenting with making soil from scratch. In the enclosed garden at the front of the section, free range chickens and guinea pigs "strut and dash among the fruit trees."

The building is designed for passive solar heating with thermal mass in the concrete floor and rammed earth feature walls. High ceilings and opening windows allow for natural ventilation of the internal spaces. Rain water is harvested for use in the toilets and laundry. (Don Jamieson website)

Natural finishes are used where possible for the interior surfaces.

Overall the building design reflects the philosophies and learning methods of the Montessori preschool. The use of natural materials, and the open access to the outdoor environment, which utilises also natural elements for exploration and play - drift wood gardens, sandpits, and differing natural rocks. No brightly coloured plastic play objects are seen here.


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