Elementary News, October 2014
Dr. Montessori acknowledged that the world of the Elementary Student is expanding beyond the home and the classroom. In this period of development, she felt, their experiences should take them out of the classroom to many varied travels and often. We have been holding up our end of the deal to great ends.
One of our major themes is The Story of Life on Earth. We study Creation Stories, The Big Bang Theory, and The Time Line of Life. Toward this end, we traveled to The Rocky Shore and handled sea creatures, plants and animals, marveled at the diversity of life in the seas, crawled around the rocks and learned about the tidal region of our own region. Since all life began in the water, this was to give the student the up close and personal relationship of that creation in a way the textbook can't.
The 3rd through 6th graders were invited by UNH to attend their annual Ocean Discovery Day, which besides the demonstrations in categories from mapping the oceans to careers in Oceanography has, as a highlight, the dissection of a squid! It is also a "hands on" day, but I like to call it a "birds eye view" of possibilities!
In biology, we departed from our usual study of Fish, Amphibian Reptile, Bird and Mammal, in evolutionary order and instead focused on Birds. Raptors to be exact – raptors in NH and their migration. We had a raptor specialist come to CVMS from the Audubon Society in Concord with birds, both live and mounted. We thought we had learned all there was to know about the several species he presented until we took a trip to the NH School of Falconry and got to experience first hand what the sport of Falconry was, where it originated, and for what purposed it served. The highlight was having a falcon land on our gloved left arm as it was called to us to take a piece of meat from us.
Our final escape for the Bird unit was to to climb Pack Monadnock at the height of the migration, and we got to see hundreds of birds, catching the thermals on their trip to warmer climes.
Our travels also took us to the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH. Our purposes were many. In October, Country Village Montessori School has, as long as we have had an Elementary class, devoted the month of October to the study of the genera of literature to Biography and autobiography. This year I presented Robert Frost to the students. I had completed a trip to his Franconia farm over the summer and had read a biography of his life. This trip was a fantastic tie-in with our annual Peakemaker Project, in which we study the origins of the Nobel Peace Prize, we share stories of Peacemakers, and then finally the students each choose someone to study of their very own.
In the midst of all these exciting experiences, we were completing shark and bird studies. In true fashion, some children chose to put reports on cards, others chose illustration as the most important part of their report, and still others made impressive posters in 3-D on the Vital Functions of Birds. Here the students showed the support, circulatory, reproductive, protective, and respiratory systems of birds.
We also learned about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, during which we shared apples, pomegranates, and honey. We are moving along in American History, now learning of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We were treated to a presentation from Ms. Monika about Diwali. We tasted a "sweet cheese treat" listened to the story, made Rangoli Art Projects and played Tambola – number game similar to Bingo. We looked at what rocks make up our Earth from Barbara Medlyn from The Quartz Source Shop in Milford, who makes an annual pilgrimage to CVMS carrying her array of rocks and minerals. We handled and explored Sedimentary, Igneous, and Metamorphic rocks and learned how and why the composition differs. And now our children are making rock books, beginning rock collections, and will take their curiosities home as we start our Composition of the Earth unit in January.
As Fall slips effortless in to Winter – we will move from the creation story to studies of solids, liquids and gasses and their behaviors. We will, as custom dictates, present the Creation Story as Mario Montessori envisioned it – God with no Hands – to the class on Friday the 19th of December. We will also explore the traditions of Hanukkah and Christmas soon. As the light grows dimmer for our daylight hours – our festivals grow brighter!