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bike day 2
Bike Day at the Springhill campus. We have Bike Day every Monday as part of our Summer Camp programming!

Open field

Across the street from our Springhill school.

Our Facility

Our building - and the only school in Montana with a classroom yurt!

Our building

Our main school at the Springhill campus includes Montana’s first yurt classroom, two outdoor classrooms, a natural outdoor amphitheater, and a natural playground. The 1.6-acre Great Beginnings Montessori campus is located in Bozeman’s Riverside community suburbs and includes a school building and a yurt. Our facilities and outdoor space support our toddler, early-childhood preschool, and kindergarten classrooms.

For 2017/18, we have additionally rented out space at the Foothill Fellowship church one mile north of the school. The little log cabin boats a large classroom, a spacious kitchen, and huge, open fields for our children to play. This is an interim classroom while we build our new, expanded school.

Kindergartners in Montana's first Yurt Classroom

Our Board of Directors created our yurt classroom deliberately and carefully, because school facilities have a profound impact on their occupants and the functions of the building, namely teaching and learning. Children in various stages of development are stimulated by light, color, the scale of their surroundings, even the navigational aspects of their school. Children can also react negatively to adverse conditions.

What is a yurt?

A yurt is essentially a round shelter, which looks like a cone sitting on a cylinder. Traditionally, yurts were used in central Asia by nomadic herding family groups and tribes. As a classroom, the yurt is the right environment for children in melding with the Montessori philosophy. It is “just their size,” in addition to being comfortable visually, acoustically, and thermally; a yurt has excellent indoor air quality; and the structure of the yurt is safe and secure.

Great Beginnings knows that a yurt is more than just a beautiful classroom. The yurt classroom will be an incredible environment to foster students' sense of unity and individuality. In addition to classroom space, the school plans to utilize the yurt as an open space for community leaders, parents, and educators to foster its strong connection to the community.

Important Design Considerations for the yurt:

Aesthetics: The yurt is unique and creative and attractive, and we want it to continue to build a sense of pride and ownership among students, teachers, and the community.

Functional: A yurt is an incredible environment to foster our students' sense of community and individuality. The yurt provides an additional space for gathering, sitting, and presenting and alcoves for quiet play, reflection, and reading. And, it ensures flexibility and adaptability for Great Beginnings’ changing programs and enrollments. And, the children use it for music, yoga, movement, and art, as well.

Productive Learning Environment:

• The yurt has a skylight to distribute natural daylight. Windows in the side of the yurt provide additional daylight and are protected windows control direct sunlight and glare. Additionally, yurts provide some of the best “daylighting.” Daylighting is the controlled admission of natural light into a space. Glare and hot spots can undermine the learning process.

• The yurt is able to use natural ventilation, because of multiple windows, the open skylight and two doors. The windows have easy-to-access operability and are thermally- insulated to enhance comfort control. The ventilation and daylighting also provide a connection to the outdoors.

• The yurt fosters an environment with acoustical comfort because of the shape and small size. Poor classroom acoustics are more than merely annoying. If young children are unable to hear their teacher, they usually are unable to "fill in the blanks" as adults with life experience are able to do, and this can disrupt learning.

• The yurt also easily connects the indoor environment to the outdoors by providing view windows and easy access from primary classrooms to gardens and other outdoor areas that can be utilized in the curriculum. The yurt incorporates the school’s values of sustainability. The placement of the yurt, in an area of the parking lot that was currently unused, conserves and protects the natural areas of the school’s outdoor classrooms and gardens.


Our Foothills Location 


Our natural playground.



Children at play in the sustainable recycled tire garden. 

Outdoor end program singing

The yurt and natural playground.


Picture of our yurt backing the natural playground.

Yurt front door

Front entrance to our yurt classroom.


The Rainbow Room (2 to 3 year olds) playground.