Dr. Montessori wrote, “Let us give the children a vision of the universe. The universe is an imposing reality and the answer to all questions.”
In the Willow Room, the elementary students have had a busy start to the year, as developing a vision of the universe is a tall order! They have spent these first few weeks immersed in the tradition of the Great Lessons. These lessons are a series of five highly ritualized stories that Montessori elementary children engage with year after year, which serve as a jumping off point for the rest of the curriculum. Through these stories, children are introduced to the Coming of the Universe and the Earth, the Coming of Life, the Coming of Humans, the Story of Language, and the Story of Numbers.
Each year, children develop a more nuanced understanding of these concepts, as they investigate new questions that interest them. This year, some children have been especially interested in how the life cycle of a star connects to chemistry, while others have been curious about the evolution of life on earth from the Cambrian Period to today.
While the Great Lessons provide an incredible opportunity to think about the scope of the universe from within the classroom, we often take our study beyond the classroom walls as well. Already we have gone on a nature scavenger hunt at the Canfield-Meadow Woods Nature Reserve, experienced a train ride on the Shoreline East, taken a tour of the Acton Public Library, and set up a classroom bank account at Guilford Savings Bank. Through each of these experiences, we see how to apply what we learn in class to our experiences in our own community.