If you don’t know what a Montessori Great Lesson is, or what it’s about, I recommend you tootle off to see Miss Barbara. If you’re wondering why you would do that with elementary age children (6 – 12), there’s a wiki page (isn’t there always a wiki page somewhere?) that explains it.
First of all, I checked with all the parents that they had no religious objections to me presenting a lesson that includes the Big Bang and development of the earth after that. None of them did – if they had I could have phrased some of the parts of the lesson differently, as it is I could go for a completely secular approach, although as always we discuss tolerance of ppl’s beliefs and awareness that ppl do have different beliefs.
Then I ran around like a mad thing gathering the materials I needed for the lesson. Tip for the future – gather these things the day before, it takes a lot longer than you think *even* when you know where everything is. While I was doing this the children had their music lessons and read in the library, apart from Small who was up in the elementary classroom with me, writing phonetic words on the board to describe what I was laying out on the rug.
Eventually everything was ready and I brought my 10 children upstairs. They range in age from Small who is just over 5 up to a girl who is 10 in January, so quite a wide age range, and a similarly wide range of background education – Big and Small have been montessori educated for the longest time, going down to the girls who started this term and so have notched up 2 1/2 weeks each 🙂
I pretty much followed Miss Barbara’s script, although I did adapt various parts – removed reference to the US states as meaning nothing to the kids in my room, putting in a section about all the grains of sand on all the beaches in all the world being a 100th of the stars in the skies above us 🙂 That got some gasps, as did discussions of the speed of light and how long it would take to get to the sun. Oddly though, the bit they really appeared to enjoy was watching bits of paper on a bowl of water, and later on, putting their hands into the bowl of water (after they couldn’t put it into the stone 🙂 ). Oh, and they all liked the volcano 🙂
I’m going to let them redo any of the experiments that they want to over the next week or so, but I think overall it went well. I’ve put books out on the earth and volcanoes and I’m going to encourage questions and research – I do love children who educate themselves, and my aim in a montessori classroom is to get them to that point.
Then in the afternoon, they all argued about doing long division – they all wanted to play with the new test tube division kit 😆 In fact, after tea, Big went back upstairs and continued with it all by herself after her friends had gone home! (roflmao, desperately tried to find picture link of testtube division, and google returned me one response – to a page talking about BabyArmadillo on Beadmerrily!)