Our main location 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 licensed facilities and outdoor space support our early-childhood preschool and kindergarten classrooms for ages 3-6.
Children waving to a drone camera from the natural playground on the Springhill campus
Our Foothills classroom shares space within the Foothills Fellowship church, one mile north of the Springhill campus.
The little log cabin boats a large classroom, a spacious kitchen, and huge, open fields for our children to play. The facility is space for our licensed toddler program, ages 2-3.
The Foothills campus with the Bridgers in the background
Children working in the Sunshine Room at the Springhill campus
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 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.